Country’s longest-running student film festival makes way for CASA’s filmmakers

Photo courtesy of Sine Reel

FILM FESTIVALS are a chance for filmmakers, critics, and other key creatives in the filmmaking community to celebrate the art of storytelling through moving pictures. For young filmmakers, it is a platform to showcase their talent and skill in the craft and engage in the world of independent cinema. 

This year, the University of Santo tomas’ Communication Arts Students’ Association (UST-CASA) commenced its longest-running collegiate film competition, Sine Reel, bringing together 21 student-produced short films of fourth-year communication arts students. 

The previous year had been a challenge due to constraints brought upon by the first wave of COVID-19. Sine Reel 2021 co-project head Caryl Sanchez commended the outputs of this year’s participants, saying their efforts have proven how they have gone beyond the limits of the pandemic. 

 “They all had to deal with a fair share of circumstances brought by the online setup, so kudos to all production houses because their efforts to make a film, not only for the sake of passing but also for people to enjoy, were reflected through their submissions,” Sanchez told the Flame via Messenger. 

Diverse line-up 

Twenty-one production houses showcase their works through Sine Reel’s platform. Directors explore animation, drama, mystery, and horror to develop their interpersonal communication skills. 

From slices of life to thrillers, Sine Reel continues its tradition of immersing CASA seniors in producing stories that not only touch the minds and hearts of audiences but also leave well-communicated morals. 

For one, Director Ponprom Punpinij of Panorama Films chose the horror genre for a 15-minute short. Aside from the fact that it was the Halloween season when they came up with the concept, they wanted to tackle the fear of imminent danger. 

“We were sharing the experiences we’ve had as children or just the past experiences we’ve had. ‘Yung looming danger that we feel when we’re alone […] All that, we got the idea behind this concept,” Punpinij said. 

Kalawakan Studios and Ebb & Flow are some production houses that center their films around themes of life. Both films are set in the current condition of the pandemic, with protagonists who will come to blows with the demands of isolation. 

Meanwhile, Kuneho Productions centers their film around a rabbit to stray from having a dog as a lead character. Director Jelliza Punzalan explained that aside from wanting their film to be different, they wanted to highlight the daily life of pets. 

“Like a Toy Story peg. Like, you never know what’s going on [in] their mind, so, you get to see what happens in their daily life, with a twist, of course,” Punzalan said.

Reacting to the number of trailers and synopsis of the participating films, Sanchez said all the offerings “seem to be the kind of films that would make the viewers formulate their own interpretations.” 

Celebrating online

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, film festivals have hybridized and migrated online to celebrate. Sine Reel was no exception, for it is in its second time holding the event online. 

Sanchez said the set-up has its advantages and disadvantages, describing the mode of communication as both “a struggle and a blessing.” 

Moreover, difficulties of the online setup were not the only issues the organizers faced. Sanchez has seen how this year has given directors more than one obstacle to overcome. She understood the sentiments of the directors about giving up some of the parts of the scripts to accommodate the geographical gaps. 

“Again, either way, their works are worthy of being released and viewed by the public because they did that. They outdid themselves, despite the problems they were facing, and I am so proud of them for nailing that,” she said. 

Sine Reel 2021 started its film viewing on December 4 and will end with an awarding ceremony on December 20. F

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