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The fourth edition of the All Asian Independent Film Festival took place in the Philippines on the 6th, 7th, and 8th of October 2023, with many outstanding movies screened across seven different categories of independent cinema. Within the wider festival, six movies are part of the Student movies, yet there are two main categories within this big one. Four of them have been competing to be crowned as “Asia’s Best Filipino Student Film”, while the remaining two have participated to become “Asia’s Best Student Film”… keep reading to find out the winners, which will be announced at the end of this article! 

Tomorrow at Dawn  

Student Film

A girl and her father want to have one last adventure together before destiny takes hold of their lives. The girl has pancreatic cancer and she is perfectly aware of her dying soon, since her hopelessness is seeable in her eyes, she would have never expected to find peace before passing away. The young director Lu Jingshu aims to represent two opposite situations, which are the keys for the main character to find her peace: the terminal illness and the joyful sport coexist together in her life at the same moment. The mix of emotions perceived by watching the movie creates the “we are infinite” kind of feeling: nostalgia, sorrow, and anger. Lu Jingshu managed to discuss an underrated theme: the father-and-daughter relationship becomes richer thanks to this last experience. This bond is usually complicated, especially in modern times, given that fathers are normally the parents who do not show up after breakups.

Blue is the color of the planet from the view above

Student Film

Yuan has always had a dream: being an astronaut. The movie seems to start with him making his life-long dream come true, only to find out that the story behind his success is way more complicated. Due to a difficult relationship with his parents, he develops many insecurities ending with a need to hold himself apart, which is why he tries to disguise himself as a girl in nightclubs. We see him being harassed for his choice and the movie quickly turns out to be really dramatic. Carlo Young is an essential figure for the cinematic industry in China, since he is one of the first Chinese filmmakers who is increasing the awareness of the LGBTQ+ community in his country. The presence of his movie in the festival is really important and it comes as no surprise that this movie has been awarded as Asia’s Best Independent Student Film at the AAIFF 2023. 

Eyesight

Filipino Student Film

Moving on to the Filipino Corner, the first selected movie is Eyesight directed by Monique Chua. Even if the movie only lasts one minute, it is enough time to fully understand Minique’s perception of reality. Her purpose was to portray how she sees her room with asymmetrical eyes, in doing so she is also trying to clarify the importance of looking at the world from different points of view. The same spot can be looked at from different perspectives, that same spot is never boring because it is, indeed, millions of spots.  

A Personal Reminiscence

Filipino Student Film

The movie starts with Virgilio S. Alamrio who reads out loud his poem “May Sabadong Ganito”, an extract from his book “Mga Retrato at Rekwedo”.  The poem is dedicated to his hometown San Miguel in the Philippines; thanks to his writings, the main character is able to recall the Philippines’ historical events and how he personally overcame the darkest moments. Mark Daniel B. De Castro offers a detailed examination of the Philippines’ cultural heritage, a significant movie for humanity since nobody really knows about these stories. As the director himself admitted, cinema is a powerful tool to tell “things that are not being talked about”, his movie is a clear reminder that films are indeed knowledge for us all.

To Be With Ma

Filipino Student Film

​​Aron Abad’s movie focuses on the delicate topic of parents’ break-ups and the consequent traumas in their children’s lives. Two young siblings live with their father and his new wife, but they still have a strong bond with their mother, which is why they desperately try to sneak out whenever they have the chance to. Their father is not helping them overcome their nostalgia, he doesn’t let them visit their mums and he is portrayed as selfish, violent, and arrogant. Unfortunately, many people all over the world can relate to this event, since divorce is becoming more and more common in many countries, both Western and Eastern ones. 

Wails of the Shadows Dancing in the Wind

Filipino Student Film

This story is about a dancer, but it is not the classic ballerina tale where, even if the path is difficult to pursue, the girl finally succeeds in becoming a famous dancer. This is the story of a fallen dream; after enduring too many tortures a young performer cannot believe in dreams anymore. The movie deals with a forgettable side of this world: criticism, patriotism, and misogyny. To sum up, Laurence Joe Rodillsd Llamas had an incredible idea in deciding to talk about this often-ignored aspect of dancers’ careers, and it is a pleasure to say that “Wails of the Shadows Dancing in the Wind” has won the award as Asia’s Best Independent Filipino Student movie! 

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