The second leg of the Southern Voices Film Lab (SOVOLAB) has kicked off in Davao City this month, continuing the tradition of Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) of boosting regional cinema by creating an exclusive platform for filmmakers from Mindanao. SOVOLAB is an intensive script and development lab for Mindanaoan filmmakers that aims to discover indigenous stories from the South and empower the voices of Mindanao.
Two mentors, Yeonu Choi and Eduardo “Dodo” Dayao, are part of the SOVOLAB 2 Scriptwriting Session, which runs from February 19 to 22, at Malagos Garden Resort. Choi is the Chief Producer and Head of International Productions at South Korean company CJ Entertainment, which is the distributor of 2020 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture “Parasite” by Bong Joon Ho. Dayao is a Filipino writer, producer, and director whose latest work in progress, “Dear Wormwood,” was hailed as Best Project at the 2019 International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM) Project Market. The third mentor, Swedish screenwriter Marietta von Hausswolff von Baumgarten, has been an international script consultant for the past 11 years for various foreign films such as “The Babadook” (2014), “Le Quattro Volte” (2010), and “Children of Sarajevo” (2012). She is set to work on the SOVOLAB projects through Skype sessions.
SOVOLAB 2 began with a presentation of projects followed by the one-on-one consultations which happened for two days. The mentors’ feedback greatly helped the delegates in improving on their treatments. A roundtable discussion with mentors and delegates was held before the closing ceremony.
Delegates register for SOVOLAB 2.
Yeonu Choi, Zurich Chan ("Cangrejos"), and Dodo Dayao
Yeonu Choi and Dodo Dayao with Cenon Homer Novicio and Jarell Serencio ("Diwalwal")
Seven projects are part of SOVOLAB, including Zurich Chan’s “Cangrejos” produced by Gale Osorio, which recently made it to the prestigious selection of Southeast Asia Fiction Film Lab (SEAFIC). FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño rallied the film project from Zamboanga together with the other SOVOLAB projects, “It’s very humbling to know that FDCP’s initiatives to create exclusive platforms to support our regional filmmakers in the development phase are actually paying off. I can’t wait to see the development of the rest of the projects in our lab.”
The other SOVOLAB projects are “Diwalwal” by Jarell Serencio, “Mga Yawa sa Paraiso” (Devils in Paradise) by Joe Bacus, “The Widow” by Ryanne Murcia, “Virgins of the River” by Julienne Joy Ilagan, “Misery Mountain” by Orvil Bantayan, and “Dancing the Tides” by Xeph Suarez. Each SOVOLAB project received a development fund worth PHP 100,000. Proponents of the SOVOLAB projects have been working with international and local consultants and mentors for eight months to fine-tune their works.
Yeonu Choi with Xeph Suarez and Cenon Palamores ("Dancing the Tides")
Yeonu Choi and Ryanne Murcia ("The Widow")
The SOVOLAB delegates gained comprehensive feedback from their esteemed mentors who shared their vast experiences in film development. Choi, who is also the Managing Director of CJ Major Entertainment, has more than 10 years of experience in the film industry. She is at the helm of expanding CJ Entertainment’s global production business. She also supervises the company’s international production business, with primary focus on Turkey and Southeast Asia.
Among Choi’s international production credits are the United States-South Korean projects “Make Your Move” (2014) starring Derek Hough and BoA and “Final Recipe” (2014) starring Henry Lau, Chin Han, and Michelle Yeoh, the Indonesian movies “DreadOut” (2019), “Bebas” (2019), and “Impetigore” (2019) which was invited to the Sundance Film Festival, and the Thai films “Suddenly Twenty” (2016), “Love Battle” (2019), “Dew” (2019), and “Classic Again” (2020).
Eduardo “Dodo” Dayao
Dodo Dayao with Orpheus Nery, Julienne Ilagan, and Rodiell Veloso ("Virgins of the River")
Dodo Dayao with Rodiell Veloso, Orpheus Nery, and Joe Bacus ("Mga Yawa sa Paraiso")
Meanwhile, Dayao is the writer, producer, and director of “Violator” (2014), the Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival 2014 Best Picture. “Violator,” starring Joel Lamangan, Victor Neri, and RK Bagatsing, was nominated at the 2015 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, 2015 Mumbai Film Festival, and 2015 Osaka Asian Film Festival. Dayao is also the writer and director of short film “If You Leave” (2016), which was a nominee for the Pylon Award Best Picture at the QCShorts Competition of QCinema International Film Festival. His other works as a writer are “Lukas Nino” (2013), “The End is Bigger Than Love” (2014 short film), and “Ma” (2018).
His third directorial project is “Dear Wormwood” which won the highest award at the IFFAM Project Market with a cash prize worth $15,000. The supernatural horror film project produced by Patti Lapus and Bradley Liew revolves around the story of five women who live together in a forest where a mystery illness emerges and catastrophes happen. Aside from preparing for the filming of “Dear Wormwood,” Dayao is also finishing his first book of essays on Philippine independent cinema.
SOVOLAB 2 mentors Yeonu Choi and Dodo Dayao with delegates, and FDCP's Ji Lacerna, Kaye Raymundo, Allyza Marie del Pilar, and Maiza Ilustrisimo
SOVOLAB was established in 2019 to help develop the projects and advance the scripts of Mindanaoan filmmakers in order to strengthen the quality of their feature-length films. It is open to budding filmmakers who are residents of Mindanao and are developing their first, second, or third feature film. The first leg of SOVOLAB held individual script consultations and talks by industry experts in Tagum City, Davao del Norte from June 7 to 9, 2019 . The SOVOLAB 1 mentors were SEAFIC Executive Director Raymond Phathanavirangoon, Variety’s Chief Asia Film Critic Maggie Lee, award-winning producer Bianca Balbuena-Liew, and awarded Mindanaoan filmmaker Sheron Dayoc.
Delegates are expected to present a seven-minute pitch of their project to the jury during the final SOVOLAB session, where one or two projects will be chosen to receive the SOVOLAB co-production grant worth PHP 1 million. After the SOVOLAB 2 Scriptwriting Session in February, the SOVOLAB 3 Producing and Pitching Session is slated to take place on the first week of June 2020.
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