Filipina director, short film bag historic 1st wins in Sundance film fest

 Leonor Will Never Die  Sundance film fest
Filipino indie films “Leonor Will Never Die” and “The Headhunter’s Daughter” took the spotlight during the 2022 edition of the Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in the United States. Photos from Sundance, winners’ social media pages.

Filipino independent films “Leonor Will Never Die” and “The Headhunter’s Daughter” have bagged historic firsts for the Philippines in this year’s online edition of the Sundance Film Festival, the largest independent film festival in the United States.

The two entries broke barriers for the Philippine filmmaking industry at the prestigious festival which showcased films through its online platform and several satellite screens across the United States.

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“Leonor Will Never Die” by writer-director Martika Ramirez Escobar won the Special Jury Award for Innovative Spirit, making her the first Filipina feature film director to win the award.

Escobar makes her directorial debut through the film which competed in the World Cinema Dramatic section of the festival.

The following is what the festival’s presenting juror La Frances Hui had to say about the film, Leonor Will Never Die:

“Switching in-between genres, this film within a film follows an ailing screenwriter who enters her unfinished screenplay of a gangster film to experience and edit her own creation. Constantly shifting in tone, the film is a playful display of the love of cinema. Its innovative and risk-taking spirit is especially commendable.”

Another Filipino director also received recognition in the prestigious festival this year. Independent filmmaker Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan’s “The Headhunter’s Daughter” made history after becoming the first-ever Filipino short film to bag the Short Film Grand Jury Prize in the competition.

The Cordilleran film follows Lynn, an aspiring country singer, and July, her trusty brown horse who endure an arduous descent along the Cordilleran highlands to make it on time to the city for the audition of her dreams.

Eblahan’s work, the second Filipino entry to this year’s festival, won the praise of the Sundance Short Film Jury for its “poetic and dreamlike” quality.

“We were entranced by this poetic and dreamlike film, which follows its character’s intimate journey with gorgeous cinematography, and direction, and acting, capturing a unique sense of place. The Short Film Grand Jury Prize… goes to The Headhunter’s Daughter, directed by Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan,” said Blackhorse Lowe, on behalf of the Sundance Short Film Jury.

Both films had their world premiere at the second virtual edition of the Sundance Film Festival which ran from January 20 to 30, 2022.

The annual Sundance Film Festival organized by Sundance Institute is the largest independent film festival in the United States. Since 1978, Sundance has brought artists and audiences together from all over the world, championing stories that inspire new ideas, and amplify original voices in support of independent storytelling.

Last year, the Filipino short film “Excuse Me, Miss, Miss, Miss” with its satirical look at labor rights in the Philippines, screened at the 43rd Sundance Film Festival in the United States.

SEND CONGRATULATIONS in the comments below to Filipino independent films “Leonor Will Never Die” and “The Headhunter’s Daughter” for bagging historic firsts for the Philippines in this year’s online edition of the United States-based Sundance Film Festival.

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Margo is a voracious reader - some might even say she reads too much for her own good. She majored in BS Psychology and hopes to become a forensic psychologist one day. She’s also an aspiring writer, mental health advocate, and a staunch believer of equality.