Therese Malvar considers jury duties at Tallinn filmfest ‘a learning experience’

Jerry Donato - The Philippine Star
Therese Malvar considers jury duties at Tallinn filmfest âa learning experienceâ
Therese has added the title international film festival jury member to her creative work. She considers it ‘as a learning experience’ and feels it’s a start of something new.

MANILA, Philippines — She has graced international film festivals for her acting work. At the ongoing 26th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia, however, Therese Malvar is wearing the jury member’s hat. It’s her first time to be part of a jury for an international film festival. This thrills the 22-year-old actress.

“This is my second day in Estonia,” said the Sparkle artist in a virtual interview with The STAR held last Friday at 4 p.m., Philippine time, but 10 a.m., Estonian time. “I traveled from the Philippines to Singapore, to Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn (Estonia). I was (traveling) alone, this was my first time to travel without director, producers and even parents around.” But she survived the long flight, replete with stopovers and connecting flights, by asking airport personnel and fellow travelers.

Therese’s jury work started on Nov. 17 and she has already watched some of the filmfest entries. “I will be needing to watch 18 first feature (films),” shared she. “Our category is the first feature films competition.” The category showcases directors, who are making their full-length debut but have done short films.

For their assigned category, Therese and her fellow jury members will hand out three awards. Best First Feature and two special jury prizes, according to the artist.

“There’s also a different kind of pressure… Iba rin po yung saya (The happiness one gets from watching and judging films is also different and) to actually talk about the films that we watch and critique (them) with the other jury (members),” said Therese, who is also a film student. “It’s actually fun for me ‘coz I love watching movies a lot.”

Her experience as part of the jury started in the Philippines, specifically at the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) and 2019 Sine Kabataan, where the award-winning actress sat as Kids’ Choice Awards’ jury chair.

“I feel I will enjoy (it),” said Therese of her jury work at Tallinn. “It’s nice to not only watch Philippine cinema, but (also) world cinema. Right now, we’re attending film screenings. Sa (Nov.) 24 pa yung final decision namin. At sa pagnuod po namin, bawal pa rin kaming mag-usap about our opinions (regarding) films (While we’re watching films, we cannot share our opinions about them). Hindi rin po namin pwedeng ma-meet or mag-attend ng Q&A with the directors para hindi kami ma-influence (We are not allowed to attend question-and-answer sessions with the directors, which might influence our decisions).” She added that she has to find out the details of the selection process. “I feel like this will be a very discussion-type of judging, and maybe ratings din,” said Therese.

Asked what’s her approach to making sense of the films and carrying out her jury work, Therese said, “While watching a film, I’m thinking of my questions like about the symbolism being used, (among many things). And until the very end, I will see to it whether my questions have been answered or naging malinaw sa huli, (and) do I have a realization at the end? I will write my opinions and comments about (the film) in my phone, I’m taking down notes like bullet points lang. Hopefully, I will bring them up in our discussion.”

As you and I know, before she has reached this latest career development, Therese started as an actress in film festival-bound entries.

“(My first film festival was) CineFilipino for Ang Huling Cha-Cha Ni Anita,” she recalled. “The next one was Cinema One Originals for Hamog… But my very first travel (to attend) a film festival was for Hamog in New York and Shanghai, (China).” This was followed by about six more films like Sakaling Hindi Makarating and Broken Blooms screened here and abroad. Her performance in Ang Huling Cha-Cha Ni Anita, directed by Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, won her Best Actress award at the 2013 CineFilipino Film Festival. Then, her work in director’s Ralston Jover’s Hamog gifted her the Best Actress award at the 2015 Cinema One Originals and the Screen International Rising Star Asia award at the 15th New York Asian Film Festival. She and direk Ralston received the Outstanding Artistic Achievement Award at the 19th Shanghai International Film Festival. Therese was named Best Actress at the 38th Moscow International Film Festival for Hamog.

“For the (international) award, it was Hamog that started it all and Hamog was also the reason why I am here, right now,” said she of becoming a Tallinn filmfest jury member, “because I won Best Actress (at the) Moscow International Film Festival for Hamog, which is also part of the A-list roster (of filmfests). When the Tallinn Black Nights (filmfest) knew about it, (the people behind it) invited me to be a jury (member).”

As for adding the title “international film festival jury” to her creative resume, Therese said, “I treat this as a learning experience for me. Every time, ang dami kong talagang firsts dahil sa mga film festivals, ang dami kong firsts na na-e-experience dahil sa pag-pe-pelikula… I feel like this will always be opening a lot of doors for me. (This is) always a start of something new.”

The Kapuso actress is grateful to film producer Ferdinand Lapuz, who encouraged her to give international filmfest jury duties a try, and GMA 7, which supports her in this endeavor.

After her work in Unica Hija, Therese shared that she will be seen in a Wattpad show with director Mark dela Cruz. She would like to essay a character with Dissociative Identity Disorder or a human clone. “I want to be challenged. Hopefully, (it will happen) soon either in a movie or a TV (show),” said she.

According to Therese, she considered her decision to act as “the best, unexpected decision that I have made in my life, hindi ko po inakala na aarte po ako nung bata… Through Ang Unang Cha-Cha ni Anita, I realized na ang sayang umarte dahil ang saya ring maging isang parte ng kuwento ng mga tao, pagiging isang kwentista, so yun po nagtuloy-tuloy po siya (I realized that it’s fun to act because you’re part of a story and becoming a storyteller. So, that’s how I continued on). It’s unexpected but it’s one of the best decisions that I’ve made.”

Whenever she gets invited as an actress or a jury member in a film festival abroad, Therese always finds it an honor and a new experience.

(Watch Unica Hija weekdays after Abot-Kamay Na Pangarap.)


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