Attendees of the Gawad Alternatibo film screening pose with directors Raymond Red and Ricky Orellana (center) after the talkback session on Aug. 10 at the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Blackbox Theater. (Photo by Kenneth Cedric M. Landazabal/ The Varsitarian)

THE works of the late filmmaker Cesar Hernando were honored at the 35th Gawad Alternatibo festival through a special screening of his experimental and documentary films on Aug. 10. 

The screenings of Hernando’s “Botika Bituka” and “Masakit sa Mata” were part of the independent film festival’s retrospective of classic movies at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Blackbox Theatre.

During a talkback session, director Raymond Red underscored the vital role Hernando played in the early years of independent cinema. 

“During the 80s, it was the time of exploration and he became a key figure in the film industry,” Red said.

Released in 1987, Botika Bituka depicts the social, economic, and political context under the Marcos dictatorship through a rapid montage of video clips and images.

In the two-minute film, Hernando visualizes the correlation between a botika (pharmaceutical) and bituka (intestine), matched by the repetitive Filipino tongue twister. 

“Most of us take experimental movies for granted, but Sir Cesar was really great at selecting images that will strike you,” said Mae Caralde, head of CCP’s film, broadcast, and new media division.

“You may think that it is just a wordplay, but you will be surprised that it’s all about hunger, insurgency, and conflict,” she added.

Masakit sa Mata is a 51-minute documentary co-directed by Hernando in 1990, about Filipino children living on the streets. 

Masakit sa mata, masakit sa puso. Because he’s a visual artist, he knows what image is strong and symbolic, and what image carries weight,” Caralde said. 

Hernando graduated from the old UST College of Architecture and Fine Arts in 1967.

Aside from directing, he became known for his art direction in classic films like “Batch ’81” and “Sister Stella L, and Red’s “Bayani.”

Hernando received Gawad Urian awards for his production design in the films “Kisapmata,” “Bayani,” and “Batang West Side.” 

Hernando died on May 8, 2019 at the age of 73. 

“Many of Sir Cesar’s students have already become established filmmakers… He had a great contribution to the industry and to Gawad Alternatibo,” Caralde said. 

“Everyone in the industry loved him because he became a [mentor] and a good friend,” she added.

Gawad Alternatibo, established in 1987, is the longest-running independent film competition of its kind in Asia. 

The festival also held special showings of movies by other veteran filmmakers like National Artist for Film Kidlat Tahimik, Roxlee, Boy Yñiguez, Krip Yuson, Reuben Domingo, Nick Deocampo, and Red. 


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