THE DI­REC­TOR FROM DAVAO

In­ter­na­tion­ally-ac­claimed film­maker Sherad An­thony Sanchez traces his tra­jec­tory from Davao teen to one of the bril­liant Filipino au­teurs of his gen­er­a­tion

Cebu Living - - Personality - by Cheekie Al­bay

Th­ese days, Sherad An­thony Sanchez has his hands full. For one, the 28-year-old Davao-born film­maker is still bask­ing in the crit­i­cal suc­cess of Jun­gle Love, an erotic opus that has been hailed as one of the best lo­cal films of 2012. When he’s not weav­ing his cel­lu­loid tales, Sherad is a creative con­sul­tant at Cin­ema One Orig­i­nals, for which he has su­per­vised the mak­ing of over 30 fea­ture films. He also sits among Cin­ema One Orig­i­nals’ se­lec­tion com­mit­tee, which chooses screen­plays and projects by bud­ding artists to pro­duce. On top of th­ese, he shares his ex­per­tise with the film com­mu­nity by speak­ing at sem­i­nars, act­ing as con­sul­tant, and pen­ning screen­plays for other in­die film­mak­ers.

A cur­sory glance at Sherad’s CV shows that the young film­maker’s ca­reer couldn’t be bet­ter: four fea­ture-length films, over a dozen in­ter­na­tional hon­ors, and par­tic­i­pa­tion in over 50 fes­ti­vals world­wide—and he hasn’t even hit his 30th birth­day yet. But be­fore all the praises heaped and awards be­stowed, Sherad was once a teen from Davao City who al­most chose an en­tirely dif­fer­ent path.

A POR­TRAIT OF THE FILM­MAKER AS A YOUNG MAN

Sherad still re­calls the ex­act mo­ment his fate took a turn, send­ing him straight into the call­ing he now finds him­self in.

“Films have al­ways con­sumed and drawn me in ever since I can re­mem­ber, but the ac­tual mo­ment I re­al­ized I wanted to make films was while I was tick­ing boxes on col­lege ap­pli­ca­tion tests,” he re­veals. “I come from a fam­ily of doc­tors, and I was brought up to be one. But when the time came that I had to tick that box, I couldn’t. I re­al­ized I re­ally wanted to make films.”

Af­ter tak­ing a year off to re­flect on his de­ci­sion, the Davao na­tive ended up pur­su­ing AB Com­mu­ni­ca­tion at the Ate­neo de Manila Univer­sity. While in col­lege, he made his first short film, Ap­ple, which went on to screen at the In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val Rot­ter­dam in Nether­lands in 2006. That same year, he won a grant

from Cin­ema One Orig­i­nals, al­low­ing him to pro­duce his first fea­ture-length, Hul­ing Balyan ng Buhi: Or the Wo­venS tories of the Other.

Be­sides earn­ing a Best Pic­ture win at the 2006 Cin­ema One Orig­i­nals Film Fes­ti­val as well as nom­i­na­tions at the Gawad Urian Awards, Hul­ing

Balyan ng Buhi took home the Best First Work award at France’s Mar­seille Fes­ti­val of Doc­u­men­tary Film and the One Fu­ture Prize at Ger­many’s Mu­nich Film Fes­ti­val the fol­low­ing year—seal­ing Sherad’s sta­tus as a Filipino film­maker to watch even be­fore he had grad­u­ated from univer­sity.

With th­ese early tri­umphs un­der his belt, Sherad went on schol­ar­ship to the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, where he took up fur­ther stud­ies in film.

WIDER AC­CLAIM, ONE FILM AT A TIME

Some of Sherad's creative works which fea­ture com­pelling vi­su­als

Sherad’s sec­ond fea­ture-length, 2008’s Im­bur­nal, was marred by con­tro­versy: it suf­fered through three re­jec­tions by the Movie and Tele­vi­sion Re­view and Clas­si­fi­ca­tion Board (MTRCB) be­fore fi­nally get­ting the green light. Nev­er­the­less, his avant-garde ap­proach and bold por­trayal of poverty proved ef­fec­tive; Im­bur­nal swept up hon­ors left and right, in­clud­ing Best Pic­ture at the Cin­ema One Orig­i­nals Film Fes­ti­val, the Lino Brocka Award at the Cine­manila In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, and the Woosuk Award (Best Film) and the Net­work for the Pro­mo­tion of Asian Cin­ema (NETPAC) Award at South Korea’s Jeonju In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

Sherad also put up his own pro­duc­tion house, Sal­ida Pro­duc­tions, through which he pro­duced and wrote the screen­play for Ruelo Lozendo’s Kolorete in 2008, a Spe­cial Jury Prize win­ner at the Cin­ema One Orig­i­nals Film Fes­ti­val.

In 2010, the Filipino vi­sion­ary teamed up with Swe­den’s Robin Fardig to co-di­rect Balan­gay, which bagged the Grand Jury Prize at the Cine­manila Film Fes­ti­val and earned a nom­i­na­tion at the Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

BORN, BRED, AND BLESSED IN DAVAO

He may have con­quered dif­fer­ent cor­ners of the world through his craft, but the award-win­ning au­teur re­mains a child of his home­town, Davao City.

“You can never take Davao away from me. My per­spec­tive, rhythm, and dreams have been shaped by Davao,” Sherad pro­claims. “Film­mak­ers sel­dom es­cape their child­hood and its many is­sues and ju­bi­la­tion. I find my in­escapable child­hood in Davao.”

In fact, a num­ber of his works take place in and around Davao, a tes­ta­ment to how strongly rooted his ge­o­graphic iden­tity is: Ap­ple’s tale of a young fu­neral singer un­folds with the Ban­kero­han River as back­drop, Im­bur­nal fol­lows the youth res­i­dents of Barangay Matina Aplaya, while other projects were shot in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions in Min­danao.

Sherad is the first to ad­mit that there are more chal­lenges to his work than all the awards and recog­ni­tion let on. “Film­mak­ing is not some­thing you only do once you have a film in pro­duc­tion,” he ad­mits. “The process con­sumes me 24/7. As they say, it’s like priest­hood—only it’s a vo­ca­tion with less ben­e­fits,” he quips.

But if the au­dac­ity and inquisitiveness that have marked his rise are any in­di­ca­tion, this artist will be mold­ing ground­break­ing vis­ual master­pieces for years to come.

“My short term goal is to make films,” Sherad con­cludes. “And my long-term goal is to con­tinue mak­ing films.”

An award-win­ning fil­maker, Sherad An­thony Sanchez hails from Davao and con­tin­ues to be a proud Davaoeño.

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