Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Story Behind DAGSIN's Awards

As of 2018, DAGSIN has garnered an amazing total of eighteen (18) awards worldwide, despite participating in only a handful (8) of film festivals. The movie's modest budget for both production, distribution and marketing limited our ability to maximise its potential worldwide. But inspite of this, DAGSIN gained traction on its own and attracted a sizeable fan base here and abroad. Here are DAGSIN's laurels...

18 Awards worldwide (the larger laurels), from only 8 film festivals (small laurels on the bottom).
DAGSIN's first award is from Cinemalaya for Tommy Abuel's Performance. It was a historic win, in more ways than one.

Despite his long and illustrious career, in both Stage and Screen working with legendary film directors like Lino Brocka, Mike De Leon, Ishmael Bernal, etc.--he has so far only received Best Supporting Actor trophies. His "Balanghai" for DAGSIN is in fact Tommy Abuel's first BEST ACTOR award.

Atom with Tommy Abuel after winning Best Actor in Cinemalaya 2016.
After Cinemalaya, Anne and I had to regroup, since DAGSIN had no budget left for any type of distribution, nor did it have funds for the sizeable application fees needed to enter the film "In-competition" to other film festivals. Fees were costly, since the application alone cost several hundred dollars (and do not guarantee acceptance), let alone the travel costs we have to incur in order to attend them. It is true that some festivals invite filmmakers to attend and wave fees. Even rarer, some actually provide travel and accommodation for free, but these are only available to established filmmakers that are wooed by the organisers to add cache to the event.

DAGSIN, being our first film, we resigned ourselves to the normal procedures and fees, so Anne and I dug into our own personal funds to begin applying to various festivals around the world around the end of 2016. We thought that the film could benefit from being an "Official Selection" from at least one or two festivals abroad. God answered our prayers and gave us a miracle! Out of the blue, DAGSIN got invited and afforded Anne and I an all expense paid (ticket and accommodation) trip to Kuching Malaysia for the ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards (AIFFA). DAGSIN's first international film festival was truly heaven sent.

Atom and Anne with the Philippine Delegation to AIFFA 2017
Anne and I were a part of a huge Philippine delegation that included local film industry icons, Nora Aunor, Jacklyn Jose, Cherie Gil and Bernardo Bernardo, as well as a contingent of Press and entertainment veterans. Although DAGSIN did not win an award in the festival, we got to bond with these fellow filmmakers and have formed friendships that hopefully will last a lifetime. While we were in Kuching, Anne got an email confirmation of DAGSIN's acceptance to our second international film festival, this time in Madrid.

Atom and Anne at the Madrid International Film Festival 2017 .
DAGSIN was nominated for four categories in the Madrid International Film Festival-- Best International Feature, Best Actress (for Lotlot De Leon), Best Editing and Best Costume. We WON BEST COSTUME!

Around the time we were still traveling in Europe, we again received great news-- DAGSIN received two nominations for the Gawad Urian (the Philippine counterpart of the Golden Globes) and three nominations for the PMPC Star Awards for Movies (Media Press awards). Anne and I arrived on the same night we attended our first Gawad Urian.

Atom and Anne with kids, Ari and Aria, at the 40th Gawad Urian Awards 2017.
Atom with kids, Ari and Aria, beside the Xian Lim (actor) at the PMPC Star Awards for Movies 2017.
Within a few weeks, confirmations of DAGSIN's acceptances to The World's Independent Film Festival (TWIFF) in San Francisco and the Guam International Film Festival (GIFF) arrived. Anne and I again booked tickets using our own funds to go to the U.S., with a stop-over in Guam on the way home. To save money, we stayed with my brother in Las Vegas, then drove to San Francisco with them. To our surprise, DAGSIN won BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE in THE WORLD'S INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL giving us our third trophy!

Benjamin Alves who was nominated for his acting in Dagsin, met us in Guam. Being a native son,  he stayed in his house with his family during the duration of the festival. Although Ben did not win for his performance, DAGSIN was honoured to be named CENTERPIECE FILM OF THE FESTIVAL!

Atom and Anne with the trophy for Best Picture at The World's Independent Film Festival in San Francisco.
Atom and Anne with Actor Benjamin Alves at the Guam International Film Festival 2017.
While Anne and I were still in the U.S., we received an unexpected news from Ms. Lotlot De Leon, who played Mercy in DAGSIN. She ecstatically relayed to our Daughter that DAGSIN had won  FIVE AWARDS from the URDUJA HERITAGE AWARDS, increasing DAGSIN's award tally at this point to nine.

The same day we arrived from Guam, Anne and I drove all the way to Pangasinan to receive our trophies with the other winners in Lingayen. DAGSIN had the largest haul of awards that day! Considering the fact that all the movies from 2016 both features and documentaries were nominated, the Urduja was DAGSIN's greatest triumph. It won BEST HERITAGE FILM, Atom won BEST DIRECTOR, Janine Gutierrez won BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (her first acting award), Marita Zobel won BEST ACTRESS IN A CAMEO ROLE (her first acting award) and Alex Diaz won BEST ACTOR IN A CAMEO ROLE (his first acting award).

Atom and Anne posing with DAGSIN's trophies from the Urduja Heritage Awards.
Within one year DAGSIN's film festival aspirations were more than fulfilled, so we decided to stop applying to other festivals. But our awards story did not end there. While we were in the U.S. we met with Filipino American actor Abe Pagtama and his son Gabe. They are the founders of a filipino film festival in Los Angeles called the Los Angeles Philippine International Film Festival (LAPIFF) and they invited DAGSIN to join. We wanted to attend, but their festival dates required us to go back to L.A. from Guam and we did not have the budget to do that on short notice. Surprisingly, within a few weeks after Urduja, we found out that Tommy Abuel won the BEST ACTOR AWARD in LAPIFF, his second acting award for DAGSIN!

Atom receives DAGSIN's awards from Abe Pagtama since we could not attend LAPIFF.
2017 had one more surprise before the year ended. The Philippine Daily Inquirer held its yearly Indie Bravo Awards, lauding the films that reaped honours for the country internationally, and DAGSIN was the recipient of TWO INDIE BRAVO AWARDS (plus the plush toy Guyito, the Inquirer mascot).

Atom and Anne with all the other awardees of the 2017 Philippine Daily Inquirer Indie Bravo Awards.
At the end of 2017, after garnering a total of twelve awards for DAGSIN, Anne and I decided to shift our attention to getting the movie distributed and shown locally and abroad. As a matter of fact, DAGSIN was originally scheduled to be shown in FDCP's Cine Local program in December 2017, but when SM Cinemas reneged on their contract we decided to retract the movie from their theatres.

Fortunately, 2018 added a few more awards to DAGSIN's laurels. The NCCA recognised our Costume Designer's work in the movie with an ANI NG DANGAL trophy, and the Film Development Council of the Philippines honoured DAGSIN with THREE FILM AMBASSADOR citations-- trophies for DAGSIN the Movie, for Tommy Abuel and for our Costume Designer (Jona Ballaran).

At the FDCP Film Ambassador's Awards night with team DAGSIN.
By chance, DAGSIN got a last minute invitation from the co-founder of the European Philippine International Film Festival (EPIFF), Ruben Soriquez (actor/director). He was so impressed with the movie after watching it in Los Angeles at the LAPIFF, that he strongly encouraged us to submit it for free. We were not able to attend the festival, but enthusiastically sent a copy of our film through the Italian Embassy by diplomatic pouch. DAGSIN won BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY and BEST ACTOR for Tommy Abuel (his third for DAGSIN), rounding our awards to eighteen in total.

Atom and Anne receiving DAGSIN's awards from Ruben Soriquez, co-founder of EPIFF.
--photos are the exclusive property of Atom & Anne Mediaworks.

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