The only Filipino movie thus far that has competed in two International Federation of Film Producers Associations-regulated awards is Cinema One Originals’ “Hamog.” FIAPF is an organization of the world’s leading audiovisual production countries and A-list award giving bodies, where Hamog won two major prizes. Finally coming home, the critically acclaimed Ralston Jover film will run as one of the featured movies of the upcoming Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP) festival from August 16 to 22.
Premiering at the Cinema One Originals festival and competition in November 2015, Hamog’s producers fielded the movie to the Shanghai International Film Festival in June of the following year. While in competition, it caught the attention of the Moscow International Film Festival, which in turn invited the team to join them in Russia.
“Our producer [Cinema One’s Ronald Arguelles] said then we had to back out from the Moscow Film Festival offer because the Shanghai Film Fest was our main priority. After all, we approached them and fielded our movie. But Moscow kept following up with us, eager for the film to be included in their competition. Long story short, we ended up joining the two A-list festivals only weeks’ apart,” Jover happily recalled his unbelievable experience.
Jover and the rest of the cast and crew were rewarded indeed for jumping continents, for Hamog earned the Outstanding Artistic Achievement Award for its director at the 19th Shanghai International Film Festival, and the Silver St. George Best Actress Award for Teri Malvar at the 2016 Moscow International Film Festival. The win effectively made Malvar the Philippines’ youngest A-list film festival best actress, with a bonus from the New York Asian Film Festival, which also gave her the Rising Star Award for her performance in the movie.
Hamog is a story of four street children forced to a life of crime to survive poverty in the busy streets of Manila. Two unexpected events disrupt their “daily routine” bringing more tragedy and challenges in their very young lives.
“The episode of Rashid (Zaijan Jaranilla) is about a Muslim boy who spent a day looking for money so he could bury his Christian friend. The urgency comes from his faith, as Muslims believe that once a person dies his body should be buried within 24 hours,” Jover said.
“Jinky (Therese Malvar), meanwhile, is caught by a taxi driver she and her friends had victimized. Although the driver tried to surrender her to the authorities, she wasn’t able to reunite with her family since it is dysfunctional. She then ended up becoming the taxi driver’s helper, hoping life would turn around somehow, only to be disappointed.”
For Jover, the credit of the movie’s awards all go to the stellar performance of his young cast.
“While we were shooting, my actors bonded with the other street children they met on the scene, which became an immersion for them. We only had a month and a half to shoot so with the help of those kids who also became their friends, they imbibed the nuances and behavior of the “batang hamog”—how they moved and talked—making their portrayal believable,” the director explained.
Excited for Hamog’s commercial run, Jover is grateful to the PPP for giving the film a chance to be shown to a wider audience.
“We’re very thankful to the festival because they are one of the few endeavors that provide the opportunity for independent films to be shown to the mainstream audience. Especially at this time where we can see that the Filipino is ready to watch all kinds of films,” he reflected. “Nowadays, it’s no longer about indie versus mainstream anymore. It is the story—a good story—the audience roots for.”
Also part of Hamog’s cast are Sam Quitania, Bor Lentejas, OJ Mariano, Anna Luna, Mike Liwag, Lou Veloso and Kyline Alcantara.