Two Mount Carmel School films have been nominated for the Made in the Marianas Award at the 8th Annual Guam International Film Festival, also known as the GIFF.
The films, We Drank Our Tears: Benjamin Abadilla’s Story and We Drank Our Tears: Rafael Mafnas’s Story, continue the series of films started with last year’s We Drank Our Tears: Fransico Babauta’s Story, which was also nominated for the Made in Marianas award at last year’s 7th GIFF.
In his notification letter, Kel Muña, co-founder and program director of the GIFF, congratulated the school and its filmmakers for their selection. “It gives me great pleasure to announce that we are honored to screen your submitted films…as official selections and nominees for the Best Made in the Marianas category.”
Recognizing how competitive and prestigious the festival has become, Muña also noted, “Nearly 82 films out of over 300 submissions from over 50 countries around the world were chosen as official selections for this year’s festival, with only six nominated for the this award category.”
To honor the occasion, some cast and crew members from the films will travel to Guam to attend the GIFF. Underwritten by the CNMI Public School System Federal Programs, 10 members of the cast and crew will attend the screenings of their films and other films at the GIFF. Cast and crew members will also participate in panels at the festival.
Produced by the school’s Theatre Club and TRIBE Marianas, the films are adapted from We Drank Our Tears, a 2004 oral history of the civilian experience of World War II battles on Saipan and Tinian, published by Pacific STAR Young Writers Foundation.
In 1944, some of the final battles of World War II were waged on the Pacific islands of Saipan and Tinian. A total of 933 indigenous Chamorro and Refaluwasch civilians did not survive the battles, and the films chronicle some of their stories.
Abadilla’s story, as written by MCS school president Galvin Deleon Guerrero, it follows Abadilla as he is separated from his family during the battles and hides out in the jungle to find them. Mafnas’ story, which was written and directed by students Angelo Manese and Justin Ocampo, tells of Mafnas’ efforts to escape crossfire between American and Japanese soldiers by hiding in a cave with his friend.
For student directors Manese and Ocampo, they were just excited for their film to be accepted into the festival. Manese said, “To be accepted, let alone chosen as an official selection and nominated for this award, is both exhilarating and humbling.”
Ocampo was equally surprised. “This recognition is also a recognition of the stories we’re telling, which we hope these films honor the lives and the memories of Rafael Mafnas and Benjamin Abadilla.”
Deleon Guerrero is proud of the accomplishment of the students. “This success, for a second year in a row, speaks to the talent, the hard work, and the passion of these amazing students.
“Between cast and crew, pre-production and production, these films were primarily made by students, and are proof of what amazing things they can do,” Deleon Guerrero said.
The films’ cast and crew included a wide range of talent from across the island. Both films were produced by Deleon Guerrero, 2005 AlumKnight Rob Travilla and his company TRIBE Marianas, Frankie Eliptico and the Northern Marianas College, and the Northern Mariana Islands Council for the Humanities.
Mafnas’ story features Derrick Atalig as Rafael, Matt Moran as his friend Juan, Seok Jun Run as Takeda, a Japanese soldier, Eric Kiser as Mike, an American soldier, and Rodrigo Castro as the older Rafael. Abadilla’s story features Dylan Santos as Benjamin, Aysia Adele Duenas Santos as his mother, Martha, Kalea Borja as his aunt, Mariana, and Jeremiah Diaz as his father, Ramon. The cast also includes Mark Toves as the older Benjamin, Joaquin C. Duenas as the older Ramon, and Joyce C. Santos as an older version of Benjamin’s sister.
Both films shared a crew, with Quincy Chinen as the unit production manager, Kelvin Cepeda as the first assistant director, Reica Ramirez as script supervisor, Victoria Deleon Guerrero and Joanie Paraiso as production designers, and Alvin Palacios as lead cameraman. The crew also included Aldwin Batusin and Ivy Leong assisting with production design, Kyle Bautista operating the boom microphone, and Maverick Irang serving as the crew grip.
Screening times for the GIFF are as follow:
• We Drank Our Tears: Rafael Mafnas’ Story
Fri, Oct 5: 6pm, Guam Museum Indoor Theatre
Sat, Oct 27: 1:pm, Guam Museum Indoor Theatre
• We Drank Our Tears: Benjamin Abadilla’s Story
Sat, Oct 6: 2:45pm, Guam Museum Indoor Theatre
Sun, Oct 2: 1pm, Guam Museum Indoor Theatre
All GIFF films will be screened at the Guam Museum.
According to the GIFF website, the festival is the first and only annual U.S. film festival in the Western Pacific. For more information about the GIFF, or to purchase tickets, visit www.guamfilmfestival.org. (MCS)
MD: MCS films nominees for award at Guam filmfest
KW: Mount Carmel School, Made in the Marianas Award, Guam International Film Festival,