Jun Lana’s historic win in Russian fest

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - At the recently-concluded 13th Pacific Meridian Film Festival, Jun Robles Lana’s film Anino Sa Likod Ng Buwan (Shadow Behind The Moon) won four major awards, a first in the history of the festival.

Anino Sa Likod Ng Buwan received the NETPAC Jury Best Asian Film, the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize, the Best Director Award for Lana and the Best Actress Award for LJ Reyes.

At the closing ceremony, the Best Director award was presented by jury member and Oscar Award-winning director Regis Wargnier and Julia Ormond. According to Wargnier, the jury chose Lana for “the ambition he had to make the film in one shot, in which he has succeeded, and the exceptional direction of the actors in the film which explores challenging issues that are both specific to his country and universal to the world we live now.”

“Winning the Best Director award was very unexpected,” says Lana, “I was up against internationally-acclaimed directors whose films have already won recognition at the Venice, Berlin and Cannes film festivals, among many others.”

The award for Best Actress was presented by jury member and Cannes-winning director of Ilo Ilo Anthony Chen. According to the citation, the jury unanimously selected LJ Reyes for her “brave and fearless performance in depicting a very complex character that has enabled the director to fulfill a most ambitious vision.”

Reyes was unable to attend the festival because of work commitments.

With Reyes’ Best Actress win, Lana has consistently proven himself to be an actor’s director. His two previous films Bwakaw and Barber’s Tales have also won international acting awards for Eddie Garcia (2012 Asian Film Awards) and Eugene Domingo (2013 Tokyo International Film Festival).

Anino Sa Likod ng Buwan is a one-shot, three-character political thriller starring Reyes, Luis Alandy and newcomer Anthony Falcon. It is based on Lana’s research and field experiences in Marag Valley, which was declared a No Man’s Land during the height of the government’s anti-insurgency campaign in the ’90s. In an attempt to crush the rebel forces, Marag Valley was heavily bombed and hundreds of residents were killed or wounded.

Lana recalls that during the first screening of Anino in Russia, he immediately left the cinema after introducing the film. “Watching your film with a foreign audience can be quite nerve-wracking. Especially with Anino, the story is very specific to our history and I wasn’t sure how it would resonate with them. Plus I had just attended a screening for another film where an audience member told the director during a Q&A that his film was meaningless. I didn’t want to stress myself so I just left the cinema.”

At the end of the screening, Lana went back to meet the audience for a Q&A session. “When the translator called me to the front of the cinema, the audience suddenly erupted in applause and shouts of bravo,” Lana remembers.

One of the most praised scenes in the film is the 10-minute love scene between Reyes and Alandy. Since the film is one long uninterrupted shot, even the love scene itself has no cuts.

“It had to be choreographed really carefully, like a dance,” Lana says, “The camera itself is a character, and my cinematographer Carlo Mendoza worked tirelessly with me to make the movie everything it could be.”

Reyes remembers wanting to play the part of Emma badly the moment she read the script. “It’s just so exceptionally well-written. Of course, I was worried about the love scene, this is my most daring role to date, but direk Jun is the first director I have ever worked with after my stint in the reality show StarStruck. So I trust him. The first time we met to talk about the project, sabi ko, direk ikaw na ang bahala sa akin.”

Lana adds: “Even for Luis Alandy and Anthony Falcon, it was not easy for them to bare all for the camera. One of them even had to go full frontal. But they’re intelligent actors, they know it was needed in the story so they did it. My role as a director was to make them feel that they’re in safe hands and in a safe place.”

To date, Anino Sa Likod Ng Buwan has been invited to participate in five more international film festivals. However, Lana is happy to announce that the film will premiere in October at the Quezon City International Film Festival. “All this international recognition is certainly a great honor,” Lana says, “but I make my films primarily for my countrymen, and there is no greater honor than seeing Filipinos go out of their way to watch my film.”












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