My Experience of Mounting a Film Festival During a Pandemic

By Jaime Guimbao

Last trimester, I enlisted in FILM 10 – Sining Sine, which is one of the concentration courses of the Associate in Arts (AA) program of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU).  Browsing through the course guide, I was thrilled and became more curious upon learning that the subject was not only about film appreciation, but it also involved film creation, production, and promotion, along with the other tasks and outputs.  Among the many course requirements, I found the promotion aspect most interesting as well as nerve-wracking for it required the class to host a film festival, complete with plenary and keynote speakers.

What started as a mere course requirement has unexpectedly transformed and evolved into a productive and meaningful collaboration and interaction among my classmates in the FILM 10 class.  I got selected to be the Festival Director and had the opportunity to lead the class in mounting the film festival along with Daizy Estrada and Arlene Mendiola-Acol as Deputy Directors.

On 13 August 2021, we had our very first weekly Zoom meeting for our film festival, which was aptly called Sineng Sining Sine Festival by our FILM 10 Faculty-in-Charge (FIC) Asst. Prof. Gian Carlo de Jesus.  With most, if not all, of the class members having no actual experience in organizing a film festival, we shared snippets of our experiences and observations that were helpful and relevant to the event.  From that small discussion, we were able to create different committees, identified the specific tasks and responsibilities needed in the festival, and assigned the tasks and responsibilities to the committees.  

During the next succeeding meetings, timelines had been set to ensure that the deliverables from each committee were met as scheduled.  Also, those who have relevant expertise and skills were identified and delegated the applicable tasks.  Since we were situated in different locations and haven’t met personally, we created a chat room in Messenger where we posted updates and discussed urgent issues and concerns regarding the festival.  We also adhered to our scheduled weekly meetings, which were held via Zoom every Wednesday and attended by the committee heads and group representatives who in turn will cascade the updates to their respective committees and groups.

Exactly one month after our first meeting, we opened Sineng Sining Sine Festival with a virtual Opening Program and Plenary on 13 September 2021.  Our guests and speakers comprised of prominent and established filmmakers and educators in the film industry.  The virtual event showcased 10 five-minute short films of different genres, which we all produced and acted in. We invited distinguished jurors from the academe and the film industry to judge our films and select the winners of the competition.  We closed the online gathering with an Awards Ceremony on 17 September 2021.  UPOU featured an article regarding the Sineng Sining Sine Festival on its website.

Looking back, I am still in awe of how we achieved such a feat.  Who would have thought that we’re all capable of organizing and hosting a film festival, especially with the limited time and amidst a pandemic.  In less than a month, all committees were able to complete their assigned tasks such as branding, publicity, inviting speakers, hosting a plenary, gathering jurors, creating a website, staging an awards night, and many more.  Through our hard work, dedication, and collaboration, we were able to host the very first Sineng Sining Sine Festival.  

I must admit that it was not easy, but we succeeded.  The key is constant collaboration among the groups and committees and effective delegation of tasks among the members.  Identifying the expertise of the groups and the committees allowed us to complete our tasks as scheduled  and to produce quality outputs.  We also need to understand our differences and learn to negotiate and collaborate.

I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to all my FILM 10 classmates! I hope that the succeeding Film 10 classes will continue to host the Sineng Sining Sine Festival and turn it into an annual event.

To learn more about the Sineng Sining Sine Festival, you may visit our website and various social media pages:

Website: https://sinengsiningsinefe.wixsite.com/filmfestival

FB: https://www.facebook.com/sinengsiningsinefestival

IG: https://www.instagram.com/sinengsining/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sinengsining 

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