Dexter Hemedez and Allan Michael Ibañez’s “1st Sem” won the top prize, the grand jury prize-feature film, at the San Diego International Kids’ Film Festival on Aug. 27 in California.
“It was the final award of the night,” Hemedez recalled. “I was almost in tears while giving the speech because I remembered how difficult it was for us to travel from Manila to San Diego.”
Hemedez and Ibañez almost skipped the event. “But at the last minute, we decided to attend because of the film market and the pitching activities which could help our next project,” Hemedez explained. (They expressed their gratitude to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Film Development Council of the Philippines and their mentor Ricky Lee for the support.)
Ibañez related that jury members had openly expressed their appreciation for the CineFilipino film.
“Jury members, actors Ewart Chin and Xander Bailey, told us how much they loved our movie,” Hemedez recounted. “Xander, who’s also a screenwriter, shared with us that he is planning to shoot his next film in the Philippines.”
This year, the San Diego kiddie fest screened over 150 films. The event aims “to promote positive educational impact on children and the youth.” According to its website, the fest “actively supports innovative films made by filmmakers from all over the world.”
“It was fun to meet the other filmmakers and the viewers,” Ibañez volunteered.
Next stop for “1st Sem,” which topbills Lotlot de Leon, Alan Paule and Darwin Yu, is a special screening in California. The Filipino film will be shown at The Art Theater in Long Beach on Sept. 14.
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