By Ariel C. Sebellino
For almost two hours, they hogged the limelight. NIÑO BONITO, DEBUT, KAPOGS, LUMANG KAHOY, KINULAYANG KITI and SWEET MANDY — truly spoke of the ‘hearts and minds’ of children. But in the end, only one prevailed.
A story about a young rap-mumbling boy from the slums, Boni, who squares off with the reality of drugs, petty crimes and dysfunctional family, won the grand prize in the professional category, beating five others in a festival of movies dedicated for children.
The movie NIÑO BONITO was cited for its honest and gripping depiction of a child’s resistance to an otherwise adverse and cruel environment. “The story and the depiction of characters are so clear and compact that they hit right to the bottom of children’s issues,” reads the citation.
Writer and director Rommel ‘Milo’ Tolentino, who was last year’s winner was quick to defend his choice of a hip-hop rapper as the central figure in this movie whose dialogues were done through rap, saying (it) is both realistic and symbolic. “In real life, the boy’s talent is really rapping but the style, instead of the usual straight speaking lines, tell us of the kind of surrounding he lives in. But we just made good use of his talent plus it’s artistic call too,” Tolentino said.
KAPOGS, which won best screenplay tells the story of two young boys, John Lloyd and Joshua who share the same adventures but whose solid friendship will be tested when they eventually fall for the same 16-year old girl-neighbor who ended up with a teenage boy.
First-time director, fresh communication graduate Maria Angelica Reyes said that her inspiration for the movie is puppy love which kids go through in life. “It is cute and offers kilig but more importantly, it tells us that children need to grow, play and pick up the ways of life themselves