Remton Zuasola's making his mark
- Marigold Lebumfacil () - February 10, 2010 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Remton Siega Zuasola’s “Kurtina Nga Pula” emerged as the biggest winner among the short film entries in the recently-concluded SINULOG 2010 Short Film Festival and Video Documentary Competition.

In an awards ceremony held at SM City Cebu, “Kurtina Nga Pula” was named the best short film, and captured the best director award for Zuasola. The film also secured the best story, best in production design, best in editing by Tessa Villegas and Christian Linaban, and best in sound engineering and musical scoring by Engr. Paul Canada, Patok and Jake Gacang.

This short film tells about the story of John (Edmundo Gabas), a widower whose work as a renowned chef was put into jeopardy because of his grief. He is faced with numerous cases filed against him by foreign dignitaries who suffered from food poisoning during a dinner he prepared. He is pushed against the wall with no possible escape. John sees suicide as the only way out, but the Santo Niño made sure that he will have the chance to reconsider his decision.

When The FREEMAN Entertainment had the chance to interview Remton Zuasola, the 26-year-old filmmaker talked about the challenges that he went through, along with his colleagues, to come up with his latest award-winning project. 

Asked how the story came to be, Zuasola said that “Kurtina Nga Pula” was actually based on “a true event but we have changed a lot of elements for it to work as a short film and be cinematic.”

“Gerald Piodos and Marvin Rubio are the key people who sat with me during brainstorming sessions and drafted a story that starts heavy and dark but eventually ends in resolution with a touch of charm and humor. The film actually leaves a lot of questions than answers and leads the audience to ponder things even after they have watched the movie...”

“Kurtina Nga Pula” was just one of several story ideas explored and considered for submission to the competition. Zuasola said, “Kurtina nga Pula is the third story that we have been developing for the Sinulog short film competition. It was chosen over the two other stories because of its simplicity. And it is very doable, considering the time constraints imposed by the deadline.”

“I am blessed to work with people who have been constantly working with me since I started directing, so we have a very harmonious set even under such pressure.”

He revealed that the film was shot in just two and a half days since they were beating a deadline.

“Construction of the set took two and a half days, which was immediately followed by the shoot which lasted for 24 hours straight. Because it was shot in a one continuous shot, we constantly have numerous takes of the same sequence until we perfected the performance and the camera work, thanks to our cinematographer Christian Linaban who made everything look beautiful.”

Zuasola would also like to commend the great work done by their sound engineer, Engr. Paul Cañada, and the original musical score performed in violin by Jake Gacang, which greatly contributed in setting the mood of the movie.

While lack of time was one major challenge they obviously encountered while filming, they also hit some technical and casting related snags.

“We had encountered some problems like the undetected leak of the shower’s plumbing system which caused flood in our electrical wires-filled set. We also have to change cast in the middle of the shoot because the first kid who played as John’s child had to leave early because of his class... as a result the kid of our production design artist (Jelly Mahipos) assumed the daughter part.”

This was the second time Zuasola won the top plum in the Sinulog Film Fest and Video Docu tilt. He also won the grand prize as well as the best editing and best production design awards in 2008 for his docu “Sinug,” which investigated the origins of the Sinulog dance.

In 2009, Zuasola and his group’s short film “Humamai” won 2nd best picture, best story, best production design and best actress awards also in the Sinulog Short Film Festival.

It was also in the year 2009 when he won his biggest filmmaking accolades. His “To Siomai Love” won best short film at the Cinemanila International Film Festival and he was also awarded with the Ishmael Bernal Award for Most Outstanding Young Filipino Filmmaker by Cinemanila.

His Stop-Motion animation film “Mga Damgo” won the Animation Category for the Cine Indie for MDG, a national short film competition aimed at promoting the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations.

“Winning this year’s Sinulog Short Film Festival is a great way to start the year of fruitful filmmaking that will hopefully bring more honor to Cebu,” said Zuasola.

While receiving the latest award makes Zuasola very happy, he is not one to claim all credit. “My happiness extends to my team who has worked so hard and has stayed with me through all the films that we have made.”

He is referring to Tessa Villegas and Christian Linaban, his executive producers, Winston Cabico, his co-associate producer, and the creative team, Gerald Piodos, Arnel and Razsil Zuasola, Jelly Mahipos, Lalaine Paradero, Nathaniel Rubio and Tanjay Tanjusay.

“For me the awards are just confirmation that a dedicated team would go a long way,” he added.

Asked to give advice to aspiring filmmakers, Zuasola echoes the words of inspiration he gleaned from the senior masters. “My message does not come from me, it has come from many other successful filmmakers in the past and these words were also advised to me many times, and have served as my guiding light…”

“Try and try. Never cease trying again until you succeed. Talent is useless if you won’t work hard. I value my failures as much as my success, for it is in our mistakes that we learn the most,” he ended. 

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