#CulturePH - Breakdown Of Awards from #Cinemalaya2023!

Animated film Iti Mapukpukaw made history as it brought home the Balanghai trophy for Best Film in the Full-Length Category of the 19th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.

The film directed by Carl Joseph Papa was cited for “for boldly taking on the challenges of technology in crafting a very engaging narrative of a young man confronting the demons of his past, and for its overall cinematic excellence.”


Meanwhile, Januar Yap’s Sibuyas ni Perfecto won the Best Film in the Short Film Category for its “quiet but coruscating take on social iniquity and how the poor’s exploitation by the rich is driven by their own denigration and self-abasement.”

Best Director Balanghai trophies go to filmmakers Ryan Espinosa Machado and Mike Cabarles. For his film Huling Palabas, director Machado has effectively summoned “the resources of art to come up with a deeply personal film that evokes fond memories of pre-digital cinema while paying homage to one’s small-town roots, and how all of this contributes to fashioning self-respect and self-identity.”


Director Mike Cabarles, on the other hand, employed “the resources of cinema in effectively evoking the loneliness of two brothers missing their mother whom they have lost to the sea” in his film Makoko sa Baybay.

Jopy Arnaldo’s Gitling and Arvin Belarmino’s Hinakdal received the Best Screenplay awards. 

The film Gitling was cited for “its very tender tale of two persons bridging the divide between races and cultures and, through constructed language and through silence and even evasion, coming to a poignant understanding of the heart.”

Hinakdal, co-written by Belarmino and Kyla Romero, won the award for the “very striking narrative that remakes the horror genre while humanizing zombies and endowing them with heart and soul.”

NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asia Pacific) Awards went to Iti Mapupukaw and Hinakdal. 

Citation for the short film Hinakdal mentioned “its pithy, layered and strong social commentary laced with dollops of humor.”

The full-length film by Papa was praised for “its finely nuanced, masterfully crafted, tale of healing, friendships and young love, effectively utilizing state-of-the-art technology that is integral to its storytelling.” 

Actor Mikoy Morales and actress Pat Tingjuy were cited for their Best Performance of An Actor and An Actress, respectively. 

Morales won the jury’s nod for “his compelling performance of a charming but predatory womanizer who gets his just desserts” in the film Tether; 

while Tingjuy won the award for “her refreshing portrayal of a young girl coming to terms with her sexual identity as she comes of age in the exciting world of volleyball.”

Actres Dolly de Leon and actor Bon Andrew Lentejas won the Best Performance of a Supporting Actress and Actor, respectively. 

Dolly de Leon, who starred in the film Iti Mapukpukaw, was recognized for her “pellucid performance of an affectionate mother helping her son confront the demons of his past.” 

Meanwhile, Lentejas got the award for his “engaging portrayal of a young man trying to understand his best friend’s difficult ways as the latter comes of age” in Huling Palabas.

Technical Awards

BEST EDITING – Ilsa Malsi (Rookie), for “effective splicing and intercutting that unravels a girl’s coming-of-age in the exciting world of volleyball.”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – Martika Escobar (When This Is All Over), for her “effective camera work and lighting to depict the world of drugs and the lifestyle that sustains it.”



BEST ORIGINAL MUSICAL SCORE – Kindred, composed of Justin Punzalan, Vince Dalida, Luis Montales, Jaime San Juan, Moses Webb, Fern Tan, Jorge Juan Wieneke V, Othello Intia, (When This Is All Over), for “its original musical soundtrack that helps propel its depiction of the drug subculture obtaining in high condominium living.”

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – KAYE BANAAG (When This Is All Over), “for successfully conjuring the contrasting worlds of affluence and want in condominium living.”

BEST SOUND – Gian Arre (Tether), “for its effective sound design in which both noise and silence are melded well together to heighten psychological realism.”


Special Jury Prize winners were: Dustin Celestino’s Ang Duyan ng Magiting, cited for “its trenchant portrait of the wages of political violence, for its highly discursive and dialectical take on the culture of impunity that seems to have entrenched itself in Philippine politics, and for arousing among audiences awareness on the need to come to grips with the country’s escalating political violence”; 

and Sam Villa-Real and Kim Timan’s Hm Hm Mhm, for “its boldly experimental verve to depict a woman revisiting the darker aspects of her childhood.”


Special Award was given to Ang Duyan ng Magiting for Best Ensemble Acting, for its actors “powerful acting that credibly renders the opposing viewpoints in the history of political violence and culture of impunity that seem to have bedevilled the Philippines since the turn of the new century.”

Hinakdal and Rookie won the hearts of the Cinemalaya theater goers and audiences, receiving the Audience Choice Award for Short Film and Full-Length categories, respectively.

This year's Cinemalaya was a roller coaster ride. We got 10 out of 19 awards right based on the fearless forecast we shared days ago. We also shared our rankings and ratings based on production and  entertainment value. It is personal and subjective so it shouldn't be the ultimate deciding factor whether you will watch the films or not. We have different experiences in life and it brings another level of perspective whether you will connect to the storyline or even to the characters. Thank you to everyone who become part of this year's festival. Thank you for letting us be part of your artistic world and for challenging us. We're excited on the next days to come! 


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