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
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.”