Young Kapampangan filmmaker to grace Iraq, Japan film fests

Carlo Enciso Catu, director of the multi-awarded Kapampangan film “Ari: My Life with a King” produced by the Center for Kapampangan Studies, Holy Angel University (HAU) in Pampanga, will be representing the Philippines in two international film festivals in Duhok, Iraq on September 9 to 16 and in Fukuoka, Japan on September 15 to 25.

The 22-year old filmmaker, theater actor, writer and director is a native of Lourdes Sur East in Angeles City. He took Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management at the HAU.

According to Catu, he is set to meet the Philippines’ Charge d’ Affaires in Iraq, Elmer Catu, who is a Kapampangan from Angeles City and happens to be his relative.

In the Fukuoka film fest, ‘Ari” is the lone Philippine film among the 13 films from all over Asia and Pacific which will be screened in the prestigious festival.

“Ulti keng paninap eku sukat isipang mipalaut yang makanini ing Ari. Masaya ku na anggang pakananu atin kung ayambag keng pangasikan ning gulisak ning Kapampangan Cinema kilub at kilual ning bansa,” Catu said.

“Ari”, produced by Ferdinand Lapuz, Myra Lopez and Carlo Mendoza in 2015, revolves on a story of a boy (played by Coco Martin’s brother Ronwaldo Martin) who was influenced by the King of Kapampangan Poets and guardian of the Amanung Sisuan played by real-life Poet Laureate Francisco Guinto.

Among the cast and crew of the locally-produced indie film are Robby Tantingco (scriptwriter), Carlo Francisco Manatad (editor), Jake Abella (music composer), educator and environment advocate Cecile Yumul, Poet Laureate Eufrociña Peña, Josefina Suaso and Chloe Carpio.

The young filmmaker
Catu was once hailed as the Kapampangan Writer of the Year in HAU’s Gawad Digmaang Rosas back in 2010. He was also a fellow in the university’s The Angelite’s Pamiyabe writing workshops on 2010 and an all star guest on 2014.

He worked as a professional theater actor under the direction of Isabelo Bicong del Rosario from year 2012 to year 2014 and eventually wrote and directed children’s theater plays such as Barbie Live in Fairytopia and Atin Cu Pung Singsing.

The first short film that he wrote and directed “Lakbe” (Wander) had immediately given him his first Best Screenplay and Best Director awards from Cinekabalen Kapampangan Film Festival (CKFF) 2012; it was also that year’s 2nd Best Film.

It was then followed by his “Matwang Dalaga” (Old Maid), which competed up to the Cinemanila International Film Festival 2013 after winning Best Cinematography and the Kapampangan Cultural Award at the CKFF of the same year.

However, it was his third short film “Mis Da Ka” (I Miss You), CKFF’s 2014 Best Film, Best Director and Singkuwento International Film Festival’s First Honorable Mention short film award that gave him his ticket to his yet biggest achievement in his film career, “Ari” (My Life with A King); it was his directorial debut film that made him win his first two international best director awards, the Best Debut Film Director award at the All Lights India International Film Festival 2015 and the Best New Talented Director award at the London International Filmmakers Film Festival 2016.

He was also nominated for best director award for this year’s 39th Gawad Urian, the Philippines’ most prestigious film award giving body.

His co-nominees were Ralston Jover, Jerrold Tarog, Brilliante Mendoza, Jun Lana, Erik Matti, Lawrence Fajardo, Zig Dulay, Mario Cornejo and Kidlat Tahimik.

He was by far the youngest director to be nominated in this said category. And just last month, Carlo graduated from Director Jun Lana’s Cinepanulat: Ang Screenwriting Lab ni Jun Lana where he won one of the Best Screenplay awards for his screenplay project Lila Ing Cule Da (Lilac).

At present he is on the post-production of his second full-length film that he wrote and directed, Reinas de Bale Matwa (The Queens of Bale Matua) and is working on his latest children’s theater project with the Nayong Pilipino, the Philippines’ national park. –Larrica Angela Cunanan

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