Pangasinan movie wins Paris International Film award
By Yolanda Sotelo
DAGUPAN CITY – An exiled poet returns to his native homeprovince of Pangasinan after many years of absence. Through a mystical soul journey, he reclaims his primal connection to the water (danum), to the land (dalin), and to the people (katooan) where in the end he finds a home to anchor his wandering soul and his art.
This is the synopsis of “Anacbanua (Child of the Sun),” an experimental feature movie on Pangasinan landscape, people and culture written and directed by independent filmmaker Christopher Gozum, 35. The film won this October the Prix des Signes Award from the International Jury in the “Cinema in Transgression” section of the 10th International Festival Signes de Nuit/Paris.
Anacbanua is one of Gozum’s movies written in Pangasinan language, his way of helping the language from getting extinct as the province had been “invaded” by Ilocano-speaking people that only central towns speak the original language of the place.
Gozum, from Bayambang town and who studied film and theater arts at the University of the Philippines, passionately advocates for the preservation and promotion of the language though his films.
“I hope to make young audiences from the province appreciate the beauty, poetry, and importance of the language, thus helping in its revival and revitalization,” he told the Inquirer in an interview through email.
In 2007, Gozum founded his independent film company Sine Caboloan committed to producing cutting edge films about the Pangasinan province and its people in the homeland and in the diaspora.
Gozum has also just completed a new feature-length experimental documentary film called Lawas Kan Pinabli (Forever Loved) between 2011 to 2012, and is preparing for two new independent projects namely Say Kalayan Na Linang Tan Balitok (The River of Silt and Gold), a feature-length experimental documentary film, and Luyag ‘Da’ra’y Anino (A Kingdom of Shadows), a feature-length narrative film.
Gozum decided to focus on making Pangasinan movies because “no one makes Pangasinan films in this country – films that tell the stories of Pangasinenses, either set in the Pangasinan province or beyond, whose dialogues or narration are presented in the Pangasinan language.”
He became passionate about the venture in 2006 when he saw an independent film made in Nueva Vizcaya whose dialogues are in the Ilocano language. “It is a quiet yet powerful film that tells the story of the local Igorot community. The cast in this film comprise mostly of non-actors who also came from the town. Somehow, this experience gave me the idea on making Pangasinan films,” he said.
Gozum said his pride about being a Pangasinanse was because of studies that showed the Pangasinan region was already an independent ethnic state before the Spanish conquest.
“We had a highly civilized community, a well-developed language and culture, and a vibrant economy that had maritime trade links with mainland China and mainland Southeast Asia. In short, I was born in a place that already had a long and proud history,” he said.
He does not believe that Pangasinan language is getting extinct, explaining that he still hears many children in the barrios of my hometown of Bayambang speaking the language.
“It is only in the Poblacion (town proper) of big towns and urban centers like Dagupan where the language is spoken less frequently especially by children, he said, putting the blame on the parents for the deterioration of the native language because they prefer to speak to their children in Tagalog/Filipino and English even inside their own homes,” he said.
While saying he was not a trained linguist, he thinks the Pangasinan language will continue to evolve adding loan words from other languages like English and Tagalog in its arsenal although many native words and native idioms used two decades ago will go out of use in another two decade.
Gozum admits that his venture was not financially viable, with very little or no money at all, although he is able to sustain it through screening fee or royalty fee from groups or organizations. He also used the cash prize for his short films as seed money for his first two films, and a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts for “Lawas kan Pinabli.”
But he said he would continue doing the movies because, “Art which includes the cinema is the language of the soul. If nobody ventures in creating works of art in the Pangasinan province, how can we as a people or as a community express the essence of our soul. A place or a town, or a community without its’ local artists and native intelligentsia is a dead place, it does not have soul. So the community must always support and nurture its homegrown artists and native intelligentsia.”
It may be a lonely road for this film maker, but his love for the language, which he speaks even in his dreams, keeps him going.
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