The local institution in film awards, its name patterned after Hollywood’s American Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or AMPAS—its Philippine counterpart is Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences or Famas—has reinvented itself by employing critically acclaimed screenwriter Ricardo Lee, better known in the entertainment industry as Ricky Lee, to head the jury in this year’s awarding, the sixty-sixth year of its existence. In Ricky’s panel, he envisioned Famas not as a competition but a celebration which he thought he had achieved by the warm reception of the local film community at the org’s awards night held recently at The Theater of Solaire Hotel and Casino. The distribution of the awards was fair and square with the harvests of independently produced films in the roster. It was also edgy, in a way as the tension was built along the ceremony.
To clear up things, though, once and for all, Lee isn’t a member or an officer of Famas. He was only engaged as the chair of the board of judges composed of filmmakers Erik Matti, Roy Iglesias, Mac Alejandre and Eduardo Dayao; academician and film practitioner Patrick Campos; film artist Emil Hofileña and actress Jaclyn Jose. Asked if he would still be the head jurist next year, Ricky matter-of-factly said: “Hindi ko alam (I don’t know).”
Lee, from the start, wanted to integrate small (read: indie) and big budget (read: studio) films in the recognition and nomination of the best local yields because he didn’t want to draw a line between small and big moneyed films as long as they’re excellent productions.
“Balangiga: Howling Wilderness” about a young boy who escaped the American massacre of Filipinos in Balangiga, Eastern Samar in 1901 won Best Film while equally small budget projects as “Respeto,” a foray into the hip hop culture among Filipino youth and “Tu Pug Imatuy (The Right to Kill),” a story of two Lumads who were rescued by the military during an encounter between government forces and rebels who later served as instruments against the guerilla warfare as Grand Jury Prizes.
Agot Isidro took home the Best Actress plum for her gender-bender role in “Changing Partners” directed by Dan Villegas while Allen Dizon was proclaimed Best Actor for his convincing role as an old man accused of molesting a young girl in “Bomba” directed by Ralston Jover. Odette Khan bagged the Best Supporting Actress award for her challenging role in “Bar Boys” directed by Kip Oebanda while Mon Confiado brought home the Best Supporting Actor bacon for his transgender role in “Mga Gabing Kasinghaba ng Buhok Ko” directed by Gerardo Calagui.
Meanwhile, Arnel Barbarona took home the Best Director trophy for “Tu Pug Imatuy (The Right to Kill).”
Meanwhile, the jury denied being bought by Isidro to win the award.
The other tension-filled event this week is the current tug-of-war between actresses Azenith Briones and Elizabeth Oropesa.
The tiff started when Elizabeth reacted to Azenith showing a CCTV footage of Oropesa lifting pieces of jewelry from Briones’ bag. El Oro said the video uploading was malicious because she got back the jewelries because she had heard of bad things being said against Zenith who was also badmouthing her other friends. To top it all, Beth said, the jewelries were hers. She commented that what kind of a person Azenith is for doing that. She added that she might just be in need of attention. Elizabeth said she has witnesses and added she would sue Azenith.
In response, Briones said she was telling the truth and nothing but. She also questioned the motive of Oropesa turning the tables around. Azenith said she has a smooth-sailing life so why she is being dragged into trouble by Beth and denied she badly needed attention. Briones also accused Elizabeth of lying. She even revealed that their fellow show biz denizens like Fanny Serrano, Celia Rodriguez, Imelda Ilanan, Annalou Lorenzana, Nirman Bonita, Lito de Guzman and Marissa Delgado knew the real character of Oropesa. She called on her to turn over a new leaf.
Azenith and Elizabeth are both beauty queens, both runners-up in Mutya ng Pilipinas and Miss RP, respectively.