MULAT DocuFest 2024, pops viewers with fresh narratives

MULAT DocuFest 2024, pops viewers with fresh narratives

Jeepneys, radios, crochet and the LGBT community are just some of the many popular cultures that the Philippines has to offer. Today, these topics become more prominent with the issues faced by Filipinos, notably the jeepney phaseout, technological advancements, and awareness towards the LGBT culture. Pop culture influences the country’s global identity, and shapes citizens’ social and political awareness. For the Polytechnic University of the Philippines – College of Communication (PUP-COC) students, they grabbed these aspects of pop culture as subjects for their films.

Last June 8, the MULAT Documentary Guild conducted their first ever MULAT Documentary Festival at the Film Development Council of the Philippines – Cinematheque Centre Manila. With the theme, “What’s Poppin’? Mga Kwentong Pop Culture,” the event showcased five student-led production films as they take unique approaches to feature Philippine pop culture that are rarely discussed in media.

The five directors of each documentary stand at the center of the stage as they represent their production teams. (PHOTO | Kayeth Celine Entoma)

“Makapagpahayag,” says event head, Mary Joy Jalandoni, regarding the festival’s goals and selection of the theme, “Lalong lalo na ang mga kwento na hindi usually nakikita, lalong-lalo na makapagpamulat,” further emphasizing their dedication to stay true to their organization’s name. They made sure that they will not only target students and the youth as their audience, but also those who have little to no awareness about certain topics of pop culture.

The roster of films consist of Biyahe ng Sining by Tambuli Production; Himig ang Paningin by Matamasa Productions; Komic Empress by H2X4 Productions; Sa Muling Pagsulsi (Salinlahi Productions; and Untucked by Alapaap Productions.

For a fair evaluation of the entries, the guild invited well-known media professionals to serve as the panel of judges which included Joseph Conrad Rubio, Program Manager of I-Witness; Adjani Arumpac, documentary filmmaker; Prestoline Suyat, Adviser of the MULAT Documentary Guild; and Harold Nowell Perez, Program Researcher of GMA Public Affairs. 

The hosts present the panel of judges of the MULAT Documentary Festival 2024. (PHOTO | Kayeth Celine Entoma)

Seeing the critical acclaim for their documentaries, some of the production staff members provided insights about their filming experience.

Icon Matthew Monit, director of Biyahe ng Sining, focused their story on the controversial jeepney phaseout yet put emphasis on jeepney painters that were overshadowed by the narratives of drivers and commuters. His most memorable experience during filming is their commitment to complete the project despite the limited time and resources. “Pinakaproduction namin parang 2 days lang,” says Monit, “Treatment ng isang araw then kinabukasan shoot agad,” explaining that they have to adjust for their interviewee. Overall, he was satisfied in shining light on jeepney painters and teased that if they are greatly affected by the phaseout, Monit confidently says, “Doon kami [Tambuli Productions] papasok ulit.

Biyahe ng Sining Director, Icon Matthew Monit, takes the stage to introduce his team and discuss the narrative of their documentary. (PHOTO | Kayeth Celine Entoma)

In the making of Komic Empress, a story about a struggling but determined stand-up comedian, one of the production’s writers, Mary Rose Maligmat learned that people are willing to push through whatever conditions and treatment they are given just to support their families, “Kahit maging subject of ridicule siya [the comedian] sa stage, as long as makapagpasaya siya at masuportahan yung pamilya niya… gagawin niya.” The writer also highlighted visiting comedy bars for the first time as her most unforgettable experience to know deeply about their subject, “Kapag lumubog tayo sa masa, mas makikilala natin yung lipunan.” Maligmat, beyond proud of her team, concludes by letting everyone know to stay tuned on H2X4 Productions’ Facebook page for more of their future projects.

Forming such an impactful lineup, the crowd was in awe of the production houses that poured efforts into crafting their concepts with one who shared her appreciation to the overall shoot that the filmmakers had gone through. “Na-encourage ako,” highlighting her motivation for their own upcoming productions. Additionally, she anticipates and hopes that for the next MULAT DocuFest, the guild will explore and open its entries to more production teams, “Mas i-feature yung ibang productions kasi for sure mas marami silang mapoprovide.

The MULAT DocuFest 2024 was a surprising breath of fresh air to documentary and multimedia enthusiasts alike. Through the efforts of the project organizers, members, their media partners that included Rappler, Philippines Communications Society, Now You Know, Explained PH, UMak Student Multimedia Organization, and Quadro Photography Club, as well as their sponsor, Pastil sa Teresa, the event proved successful in reaching the MULAT Documentary Guild’s goal of bringing original and innovative storytelling to their audience.

#mabuhayangdokumentaryangPilipino #oraspusoutak 

Written by Japhet Christianrei Marquez and Kayeth Celine Entoma