Cinematografo Originals Contest Announces Grand Winners

CINEMATOGRAFO Originals Contest, the new film competition launched this year by ABS-CBN International that provides seed grants for full-length features, either documentary or narrative, has announced its winners.

The contest proudly unveiled the two filmmakers and their works which topped the search that started in January: “Bitter Melon” by H.P. Mendoza, a dark story about how a Filipino American family spends its Christmas holiday conspiring to kill the black sheep of the family, and “Yellow Rose” by Diane Paragas, a story about a 15-year-old Filipino girl who dreams of being a country music star despite the ridicule of everyone around her.

Mendoza is a San Francisco-based filmmaker most known for his work as writer-actor-composer for “Colma: The Musical” (2006) and director-writer for his follow-up queer musical film, “Fruit Fly” (2009). After writing and performing music for David Lewis’s “Longhorns” (2011) and writing Richard Wong’s sex comedy, “Yes, We’re Open” (2012), Mendoza returned to writing-directing via the psychological horror film, “I Am A Ghost” (2014). In 2016, the music, movies and 3D digital art of Mendoza were celebrated at the San Francisco Art Musuem as part of “Takeover” Mendoza’s own “indoor block party.” He recently finished work on “Next Week,” a multimedia experience based on his time with IDEO.org and JPMorgan Chase focusing on poverty alleviation and low-income Americans.

Paragas is an award-winning documentary film director and commercial director. Her works have appeared on SHOWTIME, BET, Discovery, MTV, Bravo and PBS. Paragas started her career in advertising then went on to work at MTV and for Discovery Asia. She is also the founder and owner of New York City-based Civilian Studios. She has directed award-winning commercials for Fortune 500 companies and is repped by the prestigious Rascal Films. In 2012, she produced and directed the feature documentary, “Brooklyn Boheme”, which premiered in February on SHOWTIME networks. The documentary, which was co-directed and co-produced with Nelson George, celebrates the post-Civil Rights artistic movement of Fort Greene Brooklyn and features Spike Lee, Chris Rock, Rosie Perez and Saul Williams, to name a few.

CINEMATOGRAFO was made open to all U.S. citizens and/or U.S. permanent residents of Filipino descent, 18 years or older. The contest awards a $100,000 production grant. This is a path to have stories realized on the big screen. CINEMATOGRAFO Originals Contest winners will highlight the CINEMATOGRAFO International Film Festival to be held this November in San Francisco.

The contest criteria are 40% Story and Premise, 20% Presentation, 20% Plot and Pacing and 10% Theme.

“The Selection Committee had a tough time reviewing all the entries as these are excellent works. We congratulate H.P., Diane and also everyone who made the contest possible. We are committed to providing a platform for a new generation of U.S.-based Filipino or Filipino American filmmakers to bring their uniquely Filipino films to the world stage. CINEMATOGRAFO International Film Festival this November will be the premier event for that purpose,” said Film Festival Executive Director John-D Lazatin, also the Global Head of Theatricals of ABS-CBN International.

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