by Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau
A short film by a 16-year-old Filipino student has won an award at this year’s Faith Shorts international competition from the Tony Blair Faith Foundation in the UK.
Charles Andrew Flamiano, from General Santos City in the Philippines, attended the awards ceremony at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in London.
His 3-minute short film topped the 14-17 category, taking him to the Top 3 after beating over a hundred entries from around the world including countries like Nepal and Mexico.
“It feels really great to be able to come here to London to showcase my film and to be able to visit and give the voice of the Filipino youth about faith,” said Flamiano, speaking to ABS-CBN News at the event.
Entitled “Letting Go, Letting God”, his film tells a story of finding strength from faith in difficult times, seen through a chance encounter between a woman with cancer and a hospital patient.
“If you let go of yourself, and let God do what he does best - healing of the spirit, mind, and emotions - then you may be able to cope with the problems with your life,” he explained.
“My faith gives me my standards and the path which I would go, like having our values as Filipinos. Faith gives me strength even when I’m weak”.
Shot in just two days with school friends and a borrowed video camera, the film impressed the judging panel which included Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman, who sent a video message for the ceremony, Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, martial arts expert Jet Li, and former British prime minister Tony Blair.
“The winner from the Philippines is a really deserved winner. It’s a very interesting, and very emotionally powerful film. One of the things that we like to do in this is to try and present the notion of faith as something that is positive,” said Blair, founder and patron of the Tony Blair Foundation, organizers of the competition.
He continued: “To be able to do something where we’re showing people of different faiths coming together producing short movies that then say something positive about faith is really important.”
Now in its third year, Faith Shorts aims to promote understanding, unity and tolerance among all types of faiths, from the religious to the secular, using the media as a positive tool.
“So much of the modern media, whether it’s film, art, or social media, is used negatively to promote conflict, extremism and violence. We need to able to use it to see different ways of looking into how there could be peaceful coexistence and harmony between people of different faiths,” Blair explained, whose foundation works across the world including the Philippines.
He also said: “The fact is faith motivates billions of people in our world today. It can motivate them well or badly. We see both faces of faith, if you like, throughout the world today. So what’s important is to establish platforms of understanding I think if people understand each other better, they’re more likely to get on with each other. But when they’re ignorant about each other, and there’s more likely to be fear and from fear can often lead to conflict.”
Winners of this year’s competition include “The Mirror” by Mudit Muraka, 15, from India, a quirky video self-portrait promoting faith in one’s true self, which topped the Face To Faith category.
“Deathbed The Musical” by Liat Har-Gil, 25, from Israel, a heated conversation on the diversity of faith - with a strong warning against intolerance - through musical comedy in clay animation, topped the 18-27 category, and was also announced as the overall winner.
Elsewhere, another young Filipino, 17-year-old Deondre Ng from Manila, was also among the Top 15 shortlist with his film, “Bago Kumain”.
Flamiano and Ng follow in the footsteps of last year’s Philippine entry, “First Steps to Recovery” by film student Paulo Reyes, which won in the family category.
“Making a film is hard, even if it’s just three minutes. But it’s also enjoyable. It’s great to mingle with friends and be able to share ideas,” said Flamiano, who is now planning to study filmmaking at college, but is still in search of his very own video camera.
He wants to “inspire” others through his films and achievements, urging Filipinos of all faiths and background to come together for the sake of the Philippines.
“We should unite and come up with a good idea on how to progress and make our country a better place,” he concluded.
Entries from Faith Shorts 2012 are available on YouTube and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation website.