'Tita Cherie, this is for you!': Max Eigenmann dedicates Best Actress Cinemalaya to Cherie Gil

Jan Milo Severo - Philstar.com
'Tita Cherie, this is for you!': Max Eigenmann dedicates Best Actress Cinemalaya to Cherie Gil
Max Eigenmann delivering her speech following her win as Cinemalaya 2022 Best Actress (left). Max with aunt Cherie Gil.
CCP / Released; Max Eigenmann via Instagram

MANILA, Philippines — Actress Max Eigenmann won the Best Actress award at the recently concluded 18th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival for the movie "12 Weeks" held last August 14 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines' Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, days after her aunt Cherie Gil succumbed to cancer.

"Tita Cherie, this is for you!" Max said in her acceptance speech. "Mabuhay ang pelikulang Pilipino!"

Cinemalaya, in a press statement, explained that Max won after rendering a sensitive performance of a middle aged woman riddled with indecision as she is confronted by maternity in the movie by Anna Isabelle Matutina.

Prior to her win, Max paid a tribute to her aunt on Instagram.

"To everyone else, she is Cherie Gil. The OG kontravida, the one who'll tell you you're nothing but a second rate, trying hard copy cat," Max said.

"Not to me. To me, she is my aunt. My Tita Cherie. The one I'd usually call when her brother (my father) pissed me off. Or anything that made me feel bad, for that matter... i called Tita. Cos she always knew what to do to make me feel better," said the daughter of Cherie's brother, Mark Gil, who passed away in 2014.

"It was usually a yoga practice or a glass of wine. And I loved that. It was our thing. We could talk for hours about anything over a good meal. After a sweaty session at our favorite yoga studio. Followed by a drive to her place where we continue on with the day with more stories and little reminders of how much we appreciate and love each other. She was truly one of my best friends. I realize now that I only ever enjoyed drinking wine because of her. SHE was my glass of wine," Max continued.

"She was always the hug I needed when I thought so ill of myself. Assured me that it's only because I was young and that I'd grow out of those feelings in time. And I did. Cos she was right. She was also the one who assured me there was nothing wrong with being the crazy little girl that I was / am... cos she adored every bit of it. And that taught me to appreciate myself too. She was always a call away and no matter how busy she was, she ALWAYS picked up for me."

For Max, "Tita Cherie will always be the most empathic, kind and loving person in my eyes... with the most bad ass swag, class and elegance to match."

"What would life be without you now? I still don't know. but I am comforted by the many many many memories we share. I will surely miss cooking for you. Thank you for loving me the way you did. I love you too so so so much, Tita Cherie. Kiss Daddy for me," Max concluded.

Max was congratulated by her brother and fellow actor, Sid Lucero, who confirmed Cherie's death.

Related: Cherie Gil dies, Sid Lucero confirms

Meanwhile, "The Baseball Player" by Carlo Obispo was named Best Film at this year's Cinemalaya. Obispo’s film was cited for “its sheer poignance and quiet power, for its subtle but trenchant storytelling, and for its penetrating take on the Mindanao conflict and the sad wreckage it has made of young innocent lives.”

The film scooped up the awards for Best Screenplay, which Obispo wrote, and Best Editing for Zig Dulay. Tommy Alejandrino garnered the Best Actor award for his portrayal of a Moro child soldier whose dream was to become a baseball player.

A box office hit at Cinemalaya this year, “Blue Room” by Ma-an Asuncion-Dagñalan romped off with the Special Jury Prize and four major awards — Best Direction for Dagñalan, Best Cinematography for Neil Daza, Best Supporting Actor for Soliman Cruz and Best Production Design for Marxie Maolen Fadul.

“Blue Room” was lauded “for its bravura filmmaking that portrays vibrantly the millennial generation as it squares up to social corruption and abuse of power.”

Ruby Ruiz took the Best Supporting Actress award for her role in “Ginhawa” by Christian Paolo Lat.

Related: 'Very professional': Filipina actress Ruby Ruiz on working with Nicole Kidman

Other awards handed out in the Main Competition include Best Sound for Pepe Manikan in “Bula Sa Langit,” and Best Musical Score for Isha Abubakar for “Retirada.”

In the Short Film Category, four awards were given.

Named Best Short Film, Zig Dulay’s “Black Rainbow” was singled out for its “being a bright jewel of a short film, for being a cross cultural masterpiece that touches the heart and reveals....the determination of children to pursue their bright young dreams.” The film also won for Dulay the Best Screenplay award.

Special Jury Prize and Best Direction went to Gabriella Serrano for “Dikit,” a silent film praised for “pushing the frontiers of feminist cinema and reimagining of Philippine folklore.”

The NETPAC award went to “12 Weeks” for the Full Length Feature category and “Black Rainbow” for the Short film category. The award is given by the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema to promote Asian cinema and discover and recognize exceptional films and talents.

The Audience Choice awards went to “Kargo” by TM Malones in the Full Length category and to “Mga Handum nga Nasulat sa Baras” ("The Dreams That Are Written On The Sand") by Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay and Richard Jeroui Salvadico in the Short Film category.

This year’s Festival marks it return to onsite, In Real Life (IRL) screenings. For the past two years of the pandemic, the festival was streamed online, offering the short films in competition and exhibition films.

Eleven finalists selected from the 2020 and 2021 editions of the Festival competed in the full-length category while 12 films vied for the plum in the short film category. The competing films are being shown in select partner cinemas nationwide until August 16.

Cinemalaya goes to Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte on September 9 to 15. It will have an online run in October via CCP Vimeo account.

Cinemalaya was established in 2005 with the aim to discover, encourage and support the cinematic works of upcoming and veteran Filipino filmmakers who boldly articulate and freely interpret the Philippine experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity.

RELATED: LOOK: A glance at the Eigenmann family tree

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