The posters of Jaime Pacena's "Kono Basho" and Sarge Lacuesta's "The Errand," which are both set to be staged next year, in the 20th edition of the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. (Photos from the Cinemalaya Facebook page)

AN advertising arts alumnus and a UST Publishing House author are set to stage their films in Cinemalaya 2024, as part of the full-length category of the independent film festival. 

Films by Jaime Pacena II, a College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD) graduate, and Sarge Lacuesta, a UST Publishing House author, were listed among 10 full-length finalists of Cinemalaya’s 20th edition next year. 

Pacena’s “Kono Basho (This Place)” and Lacuesta’s “The Errand” were selected from 250 submissions, the highest number in the festival’s history.

“I have never imagined that I would reach Cinemalaya because I look up to that festival…I have a lot of respect for Cinemalaya because it respects the literariness of a work,” Lacuesta told the Varsitarian

Before being named finalists, Pacena and Lacuesta went through a three-month-long mentorship program together with 18 other semifinalists, where they learned scriptwriting, directing, cinematography, and editing, among others. 

The full-length finalists will each receive a P1 million seed grant from the Film Development Council of the Philippines to help in the production and development of their films, the council chairman Tirso Cruz III said in an Aug. 13 award ceremony.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines had also given P1-million grants to full-length filmmakers in the past editions of the festival. 

‘Kono Basho’

Pacena’s “Kono Basho” is about a Filipino son attending the funeral of his estranged father working overseas in Japan.

Set in Rikuzentakata, a city devastated by a tsunami in March 2011, the film depicts the rebuilding and recovery witnessed by Pacena when he was in Japan. 

“[It explores] the idea [that because] of a tsunami, our life can be like that; in a split second it can change,” he said. “You can get swept away and if you survive it, it will basically change your life.” 

Pacena said he began writing the story in 2019, inspired by his relationship with his own son.

“It’s this idea about childcare, it’s the idea of the one being left in this very complex world of Filipino diaspora,” he said.

Kono Basho” is Pacena’s first full-length film, having worked on music videos and paintings for most of his career. 

“I think it’s more of the level of maturity that I would like to take in my practice, that I would do something more difficult [and] a step up from my previous works,” he said. 

‘The Errand’

“The Errand” is an adaptation of Lacuesta’s short story published by the UST Publishing House. 

It tells the story of a driver sent on an errand by his boss and along the way, experiences the “chasms of time, class, and character.”

It will be directed by Dominic Bekaert and produced by Lacuesta. 

“There’s a very real struggle for me as a writer and a producer to help come out with a film that’s unexpected. The challenge is that I want it to be something special, not as a piece of literature anymore,” Lacuesta said.

Like Pacena, Lacuesta said he was both excited and challenged to work on his film for the 20th edition of Cinemalaya. 

“It’s another world for me and I like it that way…I feel lucky because at my age, [I] still have the chance to create something new,” he said. With reports from Janica Kate J. Buan 


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