The first Kagay-anon full-length film written, produced, and directed by Kagay-anons in decades has garnered multiple awards in a prestigious film festival in the USA.
In an online post dated November 15, 2023, San Francisco, The Filipino Arts & Cinema International (FACINE) which concluded its 30th year last Sunday, November 12, announced its tiered citations – Gold, Silver, Particularly Noteworthy – in different categories including Outstanding Film.
Markado was cited in the following tiered awards:
Markado, The Moon Devourer (Imoortal Productions, Micromedia Digital Video Productions, National Commission on Culture and the Arts)
In Bisaya with English subtitles
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTION
Joe Bacus, Markado, The Moon Devourer
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN WRITING FOR FILM
Joe Bacus, Markado
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEAD ROLE
Jean Stefani Obsiana, Markado, The Moon Devourer
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A SECONDARY ROLE
Roxan Lood, Markado, The Moon Devourer
OUSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN EDITING
Joe Bacus, Markado, The Moon Devourer
OUSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL DESIGN
Production design: Orpheus Nery; Art direction: Clark Cabantan, Michelle Hollanes Lua, Jake Vamenta, Markado, The Moon Devourer
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN AURAL DESIGN
Music: Rotsanjani Mojica, Nuncyspungen, Switch, & Ace P.; Sound design: RodielI Veloso, Markado, The Moon Devourer
Markado: The Moon Devourer is the first full-length film to be made in Cagayan de Oro after Lorenzo M. de la Serna’s Sa Imong Lawas ug Dugo decades ago.
With live action interspersed with stop motion animation, Markado follows the story of Sab, a drug mule (courier) for ant traders (small time drug dealers). Caught in the crossfire between her superiors, Sab drifts to the dark side to fulfill her dying Lola’s wish to have an apo, despite her barrenness.
Bacus brews a heady mix of illicit drugs, poppets (voodoo dolls), and aswang folklore referencing a smorgasbord of influences from his earlier works: Ika-3 Putahi (2014), The End of War (2014), and his seminal short Happy Fiesta (2014), all of which have won awards and programmed in national and international film festivals such as the QCinema International Film Festival 2018, Focus on Asia–Fukuoka International Film Festival 2019, Ngilngig Asian Fantastic Film Festival 2019, Binisaya Film Festival 2019, and Salamindanaw Asian Film Festival 2019.
Bacus recalls the challenges the team faced in completing the film, including the two year production which depleted their budget, on top of the availability of the actors and production crew, that he was at the point of giving up.
“But on our third year, we devised a solution to finish the film. Armed with a collection of toys from home, a script, and cameras, we decided to shoot the remaining sequences through stop-motion animation,” he recalls.
“As artists, we must evolve and complete the film, regardless of the challenges. The most crucial aspect is the story, regardless of the execution. Experimentation is essential. To quote Nicolas Refn, ‘Art needs to move, change. Controlling art is the exact opposite of creativity,” so we let the evolution happen unconsciously.”
“During Tropical Storm Sendong, Kagay-anons shared an experience which left people stunned and uncertain of what to do. Everyone felt like dolls, awaiting someone to animate us, and continue our daily lives. This marked the inception of the stop-motion concept.”
Orpheus Nery, who won a gold citation for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design, helped Bacus come up with their eureka moment to finish the film with stop-motion animation.
“We had to start from scratch because the materials we initially prepared didn’t apply to miniatures. The inspiration was real life. We simulated the live action scenes, the locations, the actors, their wardrobe and props had to be scaled down to 1:16.”
“It was a delicate process to build miniatures and finish them with details such as graffiti and scattered junk food wrappers on the ground. For instance, we had to build a sari-sari store with concrete and wooden slats, a pool table, and a concrete wall plastered with graffiti and campaign posters for the riding-in-tandem scene. These had to be furthered weathered for an authentic look. It was a long and laborious process, like getting only a minute or so of screen time for a full day’s work, but with Bacus’ vision, none of our efforts went to waste.”
Rotsanjani Mojica, who shared a silver citation for Outstanding Achievement in Aural Design withNuncyspungen, Switch, & Ace P. and RodielI Veloso, for Sound Design, said they were inspired by the movie soundtracks from the 1980s in coming up with the score.
Not the least, Jean Stefani Obsiana who garnered a silver citation for Outstanding Achievement in Performance by a Female Actor in a Lead Role as the film’s protagonist Sab, recalls reflecting on her character’s motivations for her words and actions, to gain a better grasp on her character.
“I also remember creating a vivid image of Sab in my head, reading articles about the rampant war on drugs at that time. I took notes from my own close relationship with my lola to further appreciate how Sab’s relationship with her lola moved her. The discussions and exchanges we had about Sab’s character also helped a lot.”
Eight full-length films were in competition which were shown in different venues across San Francisco – Roxie Theater, Yerba Center for the Arts Screening Room and CAST-SF Theater. A special screening of MORAL was shown at the SF Main Library in tribute to the late Marilou Diaz-Abaya, National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts.
A panel of three jury members which includes the legendary critic-academic-filmmaker Julia Lesage, writer-film programmer Irene Soriano, and journalist-media specialist Pavel Vondra saw all films and made their separate evaluations over a period of two months.
FACINE is the longest-running festival of Filipino films, by and/or about the Filipinos in the homeland or the diaspora, held outside of the Philippines.
Mauro Feria Tumbocon Jr, FACINE Founder/Artistic Director, expressed his thanks in a social media post to the core staff led by FACINE Executive Director Neil Torrefiel and his members: Voltaire Gungab, Nikki Vendil, Sheila Alix, Robin Abad Ocubillo, Ma. Isabel Lopez, and Nino Fajardo. “Mabuhay ang Pelikulang Filipino! Long live Filipino cinema!”
Mr. Tumbocon is a 2023 awardee of the Jefferson Awards for Community Service, given to individuals who have devoted their lives to exceptional public service in any arena. For over 50 years, the Jefferson Awards have been the highest and most prestigious honor recognizing public service in the United States. Past recipients include Oprah Winfrey, Former President Jimmy Carter, and Shaquille O’Neal.