The first international full-length film shot on the mangrove island of Suyac, Brgy. Tabaao in Sagay City has recently wrapped up production and is set to premier in 2023.
The film “Amon Banwa sa Lawod” or “Our Island of the Mangrove Moon” in English directed by Anton Juan was produced by the US-based Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Erehwon Center for the Arts, the Performance Laboratory, Negros Cultural Foundation, The Negros Museum and the City Government of Sagay.
This is the first feature film ever shot on Suyac Island, with the community’s permission and participation. Fisherfolk, children, and island people served as spot and supporting actors during the 10-day shoot during the third week of April and second week of May, a press release from Sagay City said.
The film revolves around the memories of the island centered on the life, love, and passing of the people. It was devised from the play “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder and was written by Juan and Mark L. Garcia, a Sagaynon filmmaker, who also served as an assistant director of the film.
Juan is an internationally acclaimed theater and film director, whose film “Winged Fragments of our Children” premiered at the Busan International Film Festival in 2017, and won the best film at Chandler International Film Festival and Toronto International Diversity Film Festival.
In his director’s statement, Juan said that the film would articulate the mangrove community, resurrect the lives of the people living and dead, their struggles and simple joys, their resilience, and connection with the environment, and their relationship with the sea and their protection of their mangrove island which, in turn, protects and sustains the community as a source of food, economic survival, and protection from huge flooding in the typhoon and monsoon seasons.
The central dramatic line grows from the everyday resilience of fisherfolk, living by hope, work, and faith, confronting a global problem: the erasure of a people’s historical existence by power structures and neo-colonial moves on the high seas, he added.
Amon Banwa sa Lawod starred local actors from Sagay and Bacolod, and most of them acted for the first time in the film.
Meanwhile, Juan thanked the city government of Sagay and Mayor Alfredo Marañon III for helping to create a film that will speak of our people’s beauty “in these crucial times we need to consolidate creative forces”.
The Sagay City Information and Tourism Office was the lead office tasked to support the film production. CITO Head Helen Cutillar said that the office would like to also thank City Mayor’s Office, City Administrator’s Office, Vice Mayor’s Office, Barangay Officials, DepEd Sagay, Philippine Coast Guard, Sagay Marine Reserve, DRRMO, Balay Kauswagan, the Balhasahanay Filmmaking Movement, PNP, and other agencies for their support.
The film is expected to have its international premiere next year and will have a scheduled screening in the island, Sagay City, and the Negros Museum.*