THE RECENT victory of Jansen Magpusao as Best Actor for the movie “John Denver Trending” gave the center stage of this year’s Cinemalaya to young and child actors.  

Jansen is an unknown and neophyte child actor from a far-flung town in Antique.

In “John Denver Trending”, Jansen portrays a young boy whose life changed after a video of him went viral and he became a victim of cyber-bullying.

The gala screening was Jansen’s first time to watch a movie inside a theater and the movie was his.  

In the movie“Edward”, Louis Abuel plays the lead role. A public hospital serves as a witness to a young boy’s rite of passage when he is stuck to take care of his ailing father.

Caught in a place where life itself is in limbo, the boy treats the hospital grounds as his playground, not knowing that it will be his source of liberation in the end.  

Louis’ love interest in the movie, Ella Cruz, won as Best Supporting Actress. It also took home the Special Jury Prize and Best Production Design.

In the film “Iska”, Pryle Gura successfully portrayed the role of an abandoned autistic kid under the care of her grandmother. Iska was played by Best Actress Ruby Ruiz.

The film focuses on how poor people deal with dismal mental health and sadly gets even more marginalized — those that are undiagnosed in an untrained and uneducated environment. It also won Best Screenplay and Best Sound.

In “Fuccbois”, Royce Cabrera and Kokoy De Santos were two boys desperately wanting to become famous actors but it seems the universe has a different plan for their lives.  It took home two awards. Eduardo Roy Jr. won Best Director while veteran actor Ricky Davao won Best Supporting Actor.

In “Children of the River”, Noel Comia Jr. plays a young boy with three friends who are trying to live a normal life, battling their own demons and taking care of their respective families while their fathers are away.

Comia won as best actor in 2017 for his role in “Kiko Boksingero”.

“John Denver Trending” was the biggest winner of the night, winning Best Film in the full length category and Best Actor for Jansen Magpusao.  

The movie also scored other awards such as Best Original Music Score, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, and the NETPAC Award for the Full-Length Category.

The director of “John Denver Trending” said in an interview that he purposely got non-professional actors to keep the idea of a nobody suddenly becoming infamous because of a viral video.  He also said shooting it in his hometown, Pandan, Antique, using the local language of Kinaray-a gives emphasis  on the experience of the entire town; a sleepy unknown place that would also rise to infamy.

The film underscores that a responsible social media user must never post anything when one’s emotions are high. Most of the time posting online is triggered by the intensity of feelings, whatever emotion it is. Understand the repercussions before posting something on the internet.

The first year of Cinemalaya in 2005gave birth toAng Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” by Aureus Solito.It is coming-of-age film about a gay teen who is torn between his love for a young cop and his loyalty to his family. Although it failed to bag the Best Film award, it was given the Special Jury award. The film was the official entry of the Philippines to the 79th Academy Awards. It is one of the few digital films released in 2005 to do well at the tills. It also made the rounds of international film festivals.

The domination of these young actors is perhaps one of the reasons that embody the vision of Cinemalaya – to encourage the creation of new cinematic works by Filipino filmmakers; works that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity. It also aims to invigoratePhilippine filmmaking by developing a new breed of Filipino filmmakers.

Some of the past winning films in the New Breed category included “Pepot Artista” (2005), “Tulad ng Dati” (2006), “Tribu” (2007), “Jay” (2008), “Last Supper No. 3” (2009), “Halaw” (2010), “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank”  (2011), “Diablo” (2012), “Transit”  (2013), and “Bwaya” (2014).

The winners in the Directors’ Showcase included “Donor” (2010), “Bisperas” (2011), “Posas” (2012), “Sana Dati” (2013), and “Kasal” (2014).

The recent winners in the Main Competition included “Pamilya Ordinaryo” (2016), “Respeto” (2017) and “Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon”.


“Kule” is the moniker of the Philippine Collegian, the official student publication of UP Diliman.


Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, email [email protected], or call 09175025808 or 09088665786)./PN


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