For the very first time, a Filipino filmmaker’s short film has been named a finalist in the International/Global Category of the Nespresso Talents competition. Arjanmar H. Rebata’s “Napamata Ako Sa Sadit Na Kinaban (I Woke Up On A Little Planet)” was selected as a finalist by the international jury for competition, with the winners to be announced on July 9.
Featuring dialogue in Bikolano with English subtitles, Rebata’s short film features a man (Rebata himself) who wakes up on a small planet and, stricken by the situation, tries to escape and make sense of it all. He runs as the planet changes around him, until he discovers that he and the planet are intertwined. You can watch the video on YouTube: youtube.com/watch?v=4KImmGBvsi0&t=2s.
Rebata’s entry and the nine other finalists were chosen from the 993 entries from Mexico, France, Spain, Czech Republic, the Philippines, Romania, Russia, China and Belgium. Each entry had to be two to three minutes long, in vertical or portrait format, such as those used in TikTok or SnapChat, with an aspect ratio of 9/16.
The 2021 theme was “Doing is Everything.” The contest rules defined the theme thus: “There has never been a time when being a force for good has been so needed by the world … As a filmmaker, you know from the films you make that the smallest action can create an extraordinary positive change for an individual, a family, a community or even the whole world.” Screening at Cannes
The three winners chosen will be invited to screen their short film at the Cannes Film Festival and receive mentoring from artistic and industry experts. The top winner will get a cash prize of €5,000 (around P290,000); the second prizewinner €3,000 and the third prizewinner €2,000.
Rebata, a Cabusao, Camarines Sur, native and a philosophy graduate from Holy Trinity College Seminary, is an alumnus of the Ricky Lee scriptwriting workshop and Mindanao Screen Lab. He has worked hard to continue to work on his passions of photography and film.
“Late ko na nakilala ang filmmaking,” he said. “Parang four years na ata akong nagtatrabaho sa mga BPO (business process outsourcing) companies. Noong medyo di ko na makita ang sarili ko sa corporate world, sinubukan ko na mag-iba ng landas (I discovered filmmaking late. I worked for BPO companies for four years and when I couldn’t see myself in the corporate world any more, I tried a different path).”
He remembered that in college, he made videos for presentations and family gatherings, using a borrowed point-and-shoot camera he would “animate” frame by frame, later graduating to Windows Movie Maker.
“I have been making short films since 2014,” he said. “My first short film is ‘Harayo, Harani Man (Right Here/Malayo, Malapit Rin).’ It’s inspired by the Peñafrancia Festival in Naga City, Camarines Sur. I made it specifically for the Peñafrancia Short Film Festival organized by the Archdiocese of Caceres. I am a devotee of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.”
It took him seven days to finish the three-minute film, because he had already shot scenes from Camarines Sur, Rizal, Pampanga and Quezon City. The postproduction proved to be the most difficult part.
He cast himself and did everything out of practicality (“I had no TF [talent fee] to give the cast”) but also as a means to feel like he was somehow “escaping” being locked down during the pandemic. He also felt freed knowing that, by doing the film mostly by himself, there was no limit to storytelling.
There are two other members of the production crew. There’s Rebata’s wife Khaye, who does many production chores, such as driving, but as a nurse, is also safety officer. The other member is pet dog Cassey, officially the cute production assistant.
Rebata says it best: “Inspired ito sa mismong nararamdaman at nararanasan ko nitong mga nakaraang taon na mas pinalala nitong pandemic. Maaaring pangalanang anxiety o depression. Basta, galing ito sa mga moments ng pagkakulong sa lumiliit na mundo habang lumalaki naman ang lungkot at kawalan ng dahilang magpatuloy. (It is inspired by my feelings and experiences these past years made worse by the pandemic. You can call it anxiety or depression. It is from the feeling of being caged by a shrinking world while your sadness is growing, and you’re losing a reason to go on).”
He wants “Napamata …” to remind people that there is indeed a reason to go on, to free yourself and return to the real world.
Rebata’s career is a planetary body with a vertical trajectory. Last year, his Nespresso entry “Selfie” was a Philippine finalist, which was already exciting. He’s ecstatic about making the national shortlist a second time and getting the bonus of being the first to represent Filipino film in the international category.
“Nakakatuwa at nakakakaba. Subalit yung mabigyan ng pagkakataon na maikatawan ang bansa, ay malaki nang karangalan. Sana lang maka-inspire din ng iba pang tulad ko na nangangarap na filmmaker na magpatuloy (It makes me happy and nervous. But to represent the country is a big honor. I hope it inspires others like me who dream of becoming filmmakers to keep going).”
The other Philippine finalists are “Bahay-Bahayan (Playhouse)” by Xyron Parapara, “Ma” by Dexter Paul de Jesus, “Special Delivery” by Sinematika Inc., “Mr. Everything” by Romel Cabuguang, “Saka Na (Someday)” by Cheska Marfori, “PR 3953, Now Boarding” by John Thomas Trinidad, “Para Uma (Farmer)” by John Kenneth Paclibar, “150+ Heads” by Bennel Canlas and “Waves” by Ian Palomar.
There will be three Philippine winners as well, to be announced July 6. All the Philippine finalists can be viewed on YouTube as well: youtube.com/watch?v=4KImmGBvsi0&t=2s.
The local finalists were selected by filmmakers Jose Javier Reyes and Quark Henares, actress Bela Padilla, Novateur Coffee Concepts managing director Patrick Pesengco and Nespresso Asia regional business head Fabio de Gregorio.
The international jury is composed of Chinese actor Mark Chao, adventurer Mike Horn, French actress Zita Hanrot, Mexican writer/director Faride Schroeder and Franco-Rwandan actress/director Sonia Rolland.
Prior to the pandemic, Rebata made a living as a photographer and videographer, shooting portraits, weddings, events and tourist destinations. He is a content creator, documenting his personal adventurers under the guise of AstroNoy. For now, he is working on new stories, waiting for the chance to turn them into films after the pandemic.
As for the short film that may just change his life, Rebata says it is a reminder that the world does not revolve around you—you have choices: “Ikaw ang umiikot sa mundo. Ikaw ang nagpapaliit at nagpapalawak ng mundo mo. Malaya ka sa iyong mundo. Ipaglaban mo ito.” (You are the one who revolves around the earth. You change and expand your world. You’re free, so fight for that.) INQ