By Pia Cabanela
THEY say you are not a filmmaker until you have screened your first film in front of a live audience. And that she did. Maria Diane Ventura, Manila-based Filipino filmmaker/producer/manager, presented her first short film “The Rapist” at the International Film Festival Manhattan (IFFM) in New York this week. An intense film on a suspected rapist and his psychiatrist.
Diane has had her hands on music videos and creative production in the Philippines but this is her directorial debut after just finishing a short filmmaking course in New York. The attention to detail, cinematography and well-directed acting played a huge role in getting noticed in the prestigious festival. The shots were carefully thought of as it pulls you towards its most emotionally-charged scenes.
“I like close up shots when I have certain messages I’d like to highlight and something na relevant sa script in terms of the emotions involved. Iniisip ko talaga what camera angles will most suit the scene, it’s not a random thing.” stated Diane.
Philippines’ iconic actress Cherie Gil played the therapist drawn into the alleged rapist’s story. Filipinos are at most times regarded as conservatives and the topic of rape must be handled sensitively. When asked on the film’s message during our brief phone interview, the first time director spoke in a much firm voice.
“I understand the topic is controversial or may even be misconstrued as condoning rape but it’s quite the opposite, if you watch the entire short makikita mo na it’s about female empowerment; not allowing to put yourself in a vulnerable position or not having the power to say no. It’s about the power of choice. And I thank (IFFM Director) Luis Pedron for giving me this chance to prove myself in front of a New York live audience.”
She further explained that she was elated when actress Gil took the part. “She’s the only Filipina actress whom I have the highest respect for and she took the character as she was in my head nung sinusulat ko siya, I know Ms. Gil, herself connote female empowerment, she gave the part justice and I am grateful and honored.”
The short premiered at the 13th Cinemanila Film Festival in Manila and was chosen 3rd most popular short film at the IFFM. Among hundreds of entries, only 43 films from different countries were officially selected to be screened.
Diane is currently penning her newest film and is preparing herself to do a feature length.
Filipinos this year have adorned the IFFM line up, including “A Second” directed by Aaron Palabyab and Pong Ignacio, a 5-minuter film on love lost. Aaron graduated from the International Academy of Film and Television (IAFT) in Cebu, Philippines which has a branch in Burbank, Ca.