Filipino short film wins big at the 15th Belize International Film Festival

“An Sadit na Planeta” explores how our lost selves still persevere in these times of trial amid a pandemic.

Filipino short film wins big at the 15th Belize International Film Festival
(Images: Cinemalaya; Arjanmar Rebeta)

A global pandemic may have halted cinema and the production of quality projects on screen, but independent filmmakers are still finding ways not only to put out good ideas but flourish in the international scene.

As a testament to that, another Filipino film brought glory to the country, this time with Arjanmar Rebeta’s An Sadit na Planeta (Little Planet) bringing home the Best Short Narrative Film award at the 15th Belize International Film Festival held virtually this November 12 to 15.

In the video package announcing the award’s recipient, actress and juror Maite Bonilla said that the selection of Rebeta’s film was due to several reasons, namely the technique — it was shot in 360 which made it completely interesting and innovative — the “depth of the story” which holds such significance, and the theme of self-discovery.

“It had a very interesting display because we were thinking between ‘Is this an animation or is this a short narrative?’. But to me and to all, it has a really nice unique blend. So it is that questioning, ‘Is it this or is it that?’ And you know what? It worked! So keep doing what you are doing. We loved it,” said Bonilla.

Rebeta, a Bicol native, thanked the festival organizers: “It is a great pleasure for us to receive the Best Short Narrative Film award this edition. [I’m] hoping that someday I could be there in person. I’m also excit’d to touch the special trophy I’ve been dreaming to win, and now it’s happened.”

Rebeta also shared that the film was shot during the pandemic, and represented a shrinking world. “I [felt] that my world is getting smaller while my worries are getting bigger, but this kind of recognition is telling me otherwise. 

“By continuing, we are giving ourselves a whole new world. And I hope, especially these days, we can create [a] compassionate and understanding world for everyone,” he added. “Let us make everyone’s little planet a better and secure place.”

Aside from directing the project, Rebeta also plays the lone character in An Sadit na Planeta who finds himself alone on a barren planet called “Planet I.” Without knowing how or why he ended up there, he spends the next 40 days exploring, eventually finding the truth and meaning he was looking for.

The film premiered at the 17th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival last August, where it won the NETPAC Jury Prize, Audience Choice Award, and Special Jury Prize.

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