A short film about a boy who wants to have his family picture taken by an old and grumpy photographer for his school assignment won the viewer's choice award during the Asian and Middle Eastern Film Night of the fifth Gatffest Film Festival in Kingston, Jamaica last June 24.
"Pipo," which stars Maliksi Morales in the title role, bested films from Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, in the said category of the festival. Chanel Latorre, Ramon Palencia, and Katherine Carel provide support as members of Pipo's family while award-winning actor Lou Veloso plays the role of the photographer.
Director Richard Legaspi was among the filmmakers from 28 countries who showcased their works during the festival and also vied for awards in 14 other categories including best directing, most original screenplay and best international film. Other films which competed in the 10-day event came from Canada, Columbia, Germany, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Tanzania, United States and United Kingdom, among others.
Gatffest, initially introduced in 2013 as the Greater August Town Film Festival and hailed as "the Carribean's premier film festival," was organized by the University of the West Indies (UWI) Centre for Tourism and Policy Research.
UWI CTPR Director and Prof. Ian Boxill pointed out that although there has been an increase in the number of Jamaican-produced films, several filmmakers still find it difficult to show their films in movie theaters and traditional media. Thus, he stressed that Gatffest remains relevant not only to local filmmakers but also to those from other countries who similarly want an outlet for securing an audience and screening their works.
With the theme "From the Streets to the Screen," the film festival featured panel discussions, trainings and workshops in film and video production, and provided a venue for filmmakers to express themselves and to deal with issues in their respective communities.
Through the film, Legaspi raises concerns brought about by poverty and environment-related issues and also pays tribute to manual film cameras as well as all the photographers who people often fail to acknowledge for documenting precious moments in their lives.
"Pipo" previously won the grand prize in the professional section of AnakTV’s Sinebata (children’s films) competition, 8-12 fiction category (based on target audience). The film was produced by Red Room Media Productions through the support of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, ILLY, Università delle Idee and Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto.
Legaspi is a Gawad Cultural Center of the Philippines awardee in 2010 and 2011, a recipient of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in 2012 for his screenplay "Primera Bella" and a Cinemalaya winner and Gawad Urian nominee for his short film "Manenaya." He is a graduate of Ricky Lee’s 14th scriptwriting workshop, a directing fellow at the Asian Film Academy in Busan, South Korea, and a UNESCO Laureate and resident artist of UNIDEE.