First Day at CAAMFest! Filmmaker on a Voyage
by Micaela Gallanosa
2013 Student Delegate
Our first full day as CAAMFest delegates was a whirlwind of screenings. After a meeting with Linsanity producer, Brian Yang, we watched the documentary Marilou Diaz-Abaya: Filmmaker on a Voyage. This film was an intimate portrait of Filipina filmmaker Marilou Diaz-Abaya and her amazing body of work. It was an unbelievable experience as a Filipina-American to celebrate the work of this trailblazing filmmaker. I had never experienced before the feeling of celebrating a female, Filipina filmmaker. I was upset with myself that I had not been more familiar with her work and the fact that so many filmmakers from around the world are not in our society’s consciousness.
Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s philosophy and approach to filmmaking is worthy of discussion around the globe. Her commitment to quality films that did not “take for granted the intelligence of their audiences” is something that I think should be applied to cinema around the world. What moved me the most was the passion that she conveyed when talking about the arts, particularly painting, and how this passion drove her projects. Her works reflected and challenged the social atmosphere of the Philippines at the time. Her movie Brutal, in particular, was the first Filipino film that explored the issue of rape as a social justice issue. This film is strengthened by the time in Marilou’s life in which the film came together. When Marilou’s filmmaker sister-in-law, Mona Lisa Yuchengco, approached her, Diaz-Abaya had already been diagnosed with breast cancer. Marilou accepted this offer because she felt that she had so much left to share with the world. These intimate conversations interspersed with film clips and interviews with other industry members opened my eyes to a wealth of knowledge surrounding film, relationships, and life.
Later in the day we watched another film by Filipino filmmaker, Ron Morales, entitled Graceland. This narrative thriller was quite in contrast with the documentary, yet I couldn’t help but draw connections to Marilou’s life and work. Without giving too much away, this film dealt with poverty, corruption, and child prostitution in the Philippines. As one of the filmmakers noted, these issues are not exclusive to the Philippines; this film is just the way this country navigates these issues. Dealing with these issues is what connected it to Marilou’s work and outlook on life. I think this film was smart and challenged the audience to consider the choices they would make in the characters’ positions. It illustrated how the social issues like corruption and poverty have such a huge effect on what decisions people deem as right and wrong.
One of the most valuable experiences I have gained through the Student Delegate Program is the ability to attend screenings with the filmmakers as well as meetings with just the filmmakers and student delegates. Hearing from the people that brought these films to light brought a richness to the films like I had never experienced before. The passion of these filmmakers is tangible and is a passion that I strive to have with whatever career path I end up on.
Chosen from a large competitive pool of undergraduate and graduate students, the Student Delegates are a small yet diverse group of students who rigorously train at CAAMFest “boot camp.” Under guidance from festival staff, student delegates participate in an intense schedule of music events, cooking events, film screenings, discussions, and exclusive meetings with filmmakers and special guests. The program aims to cultivate the next generation of filmmakers, activists, educators, and community leaders.
Southwest Airlines is a proud sponsor of CAAM’s Student Delegate Program. Selected CAAM Internship Program applicants may qualify for complimentary air travel, courtesy of Southwest Airlines.