LPU Prof wins special mention prize at Dreamanila International Filmfestival

A special lecturer at Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila recently bagged a Special Mention award for his screenplay of an epistolary documentary at the 3rd Dreamanila International Film Festival.  

“Maria Leonor,” a short documentary written and directed by Seymour Barros Sanchez in the form of an open letter, delves into the Filipino voter’s psyche as it trains its sight on a government office’s pandemic response efforts. It is an offshoot of his ongoing full-length project “Leading Lady” partially funded by the Centre for Global Business of the Monash Business School, Monash University, Australia.  

Sanchez teaches Film Appreciation, Fundamentals of Film and Video Production, and Production Management this year at LPU Manila. Last year, he handled classes in Editorial and Opinion Writing, Investigative Journalism, and Writing News for Radio and Television, Interactive, Digital and New Media.  

Collaborating with him on “Maria Leonor” are voice talent and producer Eloisa Espino Sanchez, creative consultant Richard Soriano Legaspi, sound designer, graphic artist and editor John Lanbert Rafols, composer Tonton Hernandez and singer Jaycee Belmonte (“Tuloy ang Laban”), sound recordist Darwin Novicio, camerapersons Ariel Alarcon, Charles Cajayon, and production manager Kristin Joy Bactad Jor.  

Founder and Executive Director Archie Del Mundo shared at the Dreamanila awards night a statement he signed with head of festival programming Joselito Altarejos, associate programmer Robert Cerda, and creative director Lemuel Lorca, “Even the age of modern pandemic cannot simply stifle their sustained growth – and films have become, more than ever, a powerful tool to document lived experiences.” 

Only 56 films were selected to compete out of more than 500 submissions to the Dreamanila filmfest, which had International Full Features, International Short Features, Philippine Shorts, and Screenwriting Division as its main categories. Altarejos and Lorca, both award-winning filmmakers, and film scholars Cerda and Jerrick David comprised this year’s jury and board members.  

The festival had 15 competing films during its inaugural run at the Dream Theater of the then Carl Balita Productions in 2019. When the pandemic lockdown happened last year, over 30 finalists were shown via Facebook Live streaming platform on its FB page (https://www.facebook.com/dreamanila). This year, it was streamed via The Dreamanila Network (https://www.youtube.com/c/TheDreamanilaNetwork). 

“Maria Leonor” also competed at the Lift-Off Global Network Sessions. Based at Pinewood Studios, United Kingdom, Lift-Off features a broad range of new and emerging indie content and focuses on “fostering a digital connection with new global audiences, connecting them with a broad range of grassroots indie film talent.” The festival ran online via Vimeo on Demand. The film may also be viewed as part of the digital art exhibition “To Differ Digitally 2: Love and Dissent in the Time of Pandemic.”  

The Bisaya version of the documentary will serve as the closing film of the first Kultura Film Festival co-organized by North Luzon Cinema Guild, Inc. and Movies that Matter from January 22 to February 5.  

Apart from being an advocacy filmmaker and a communication and film lecturer, Sanchez is also a freelance writer, content and creative producer, creative consultant, and a former producer for news and current affairs programs. He is a fellow of the 17th Lopez Jaena Community Journalism Workshop, 21st Iligan National Writers Workshop and 9th Palihang Rogelio Sicat. He is also a graduate of the 3rd Produire au Sud film workshop of the 6th World Film Festival Bangkok, 14th Ricky Lee scriptwriting workshop, and Active Vista film and media for human rights advocacy workshop, among others.