Mount Carmel School announced that “We Drank Our Tears: Rafael Mafnas’s Story” was accepted into the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, or the LAAPFF, and that it has just wrapped up shooting three more films in the series.
LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL
The school learned about the entry of Rafael Mafnas’s Story into the LAAPFF from the festival’s senior film festival programmer and operations director, Eseel Borlasa. In the notification letter, Borlasa wrote, “We congratulate you, and thank you for the opportunity to showcase your production at our 2019 festival.” Borlasa added, “We are excited by the inclusion of your production, and trust that it will find a warm and captive audience here.”
Rafael Mafnas’s story, which also won Best of Festival at the 2018 Guam International Film Festival, was directed by seniors, Angelo Manese and Justin Ocampo. Both filmmakers were were honored by the news.
Manese said, “I am very humbled to have our film accepted into this film festival.” He added, “It’s one thing to have our island of Saipan appreciate our film, but it’s definitely another thing for our story to be shown to a larger audience.”
Ocampo agreed. “It’s a distinct honor to have Rafael’s story be told to others through this platform. I hope that his story inspires others the way his story has inspired us.”
School president and producer for the films, Galvin Deleon Guerrero, was very proud of his students’ accomplishments. He said, “This proves that our students have the talent, the skill, and the passion to tell compelling stories about our islands.” Deleon Guerrero also acknowledged that the entry of the film into the LAAPFF speaks to the resilience of the people of the Marianas, especially in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yutu. “If it’s one thing we’ve learned by telling these stories, it is that with hope and faith and determination, we can survive any tragedy, whether they be world wars or super typhoons. This honor reinforces that underlying message.”
Established in 1983, the LAAPFF is the largest film festival in Southern California dedicated to showcasing films by and about Asians & Pacific Islanders around the world. As Borlasa wrote in the notification, “This year’s Festival will feature an exciting lineup of nearly 150 film productions by Asian Pacific American and Asian international artists, in addition to panels, workshops and artist/audience dialogues.”
THREE MORE FILMS COMING SOON
Mount Carmel School also announced that it had just about wrapped up shooting three more films in the “We Drank Our Tears” series with three new film directors, all veterans of the school’s Theatre Club. AlumKnight and Theatre Club co-adviser, Aysia Adele Duenas Santos, directed Sister Antonieta Cepeda Ada’s Story; Junior, William Blake Deleon Guerrero, directed Carmen Cabrera Acosta’s Story; and Senior, Quincy Chinen, directed Rosa Reyes Agulto’s story.
All three directors were honored to direct the films.
For Santos, the telling Sr. Ada’s story has personal meaning. As she put it, “To have personally met her and now to have her story turned into a film is such an honor. Not many people know about our history and I’m very glad I was chosen to tell such a powerful story.”
Deleon Guerrero feels equally humbled to tell the story of Carmen Acosta. “I felt honored having the opportunity to tell a story, especially one from my island. It was definitely a new experience, but it was one that allowed me to express myself in ways I only dreamed of.” He was also thankful to the cast and crew for their contributions to the film. “I’m glad to have my friends help me accomplish a lifelong dream.”
Likewise, Chinen was honored to tell the story of Rosa Agulto. While normally behind the camera or backstage as a manager, this film is her directorial debut. “Directing was a new experience for me, because I’ve always been behind the scenes, managing cast and crew, doing everything to aid the director.” However, Chinen appreciated the opportunity to step up as a director. “It was a privilege to work with such a talented group of people to tell a story that, I believed, will teach future generations what families went through in the war.”
COLLABORATION AND PARTNERSHIP
The three new films also herald the school’s collaboration with a new creative partner in the series, D&R Visuals and its team of Denton Pangelinan, Rita Indalecio, and Carlo Domingo, all of whom are equally excited about the production. According to Pangelinan, “Working with Galvin and MCS gave us a chance to see our younger generations in action. It was an amazing experience seeing how a full production crew works and we look forward to continue working with them.” He added, “Thank you Galvin for the opportunity to to work with you all!”
An up and coming video and photo production studio on Saipan, D&R Visuals will premiere its first narrative film, “Remember Me”, on Memorial Day this year. “Remember Me” tells the story of two friends who were deployed to combat and return to face the reality of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
The three new films also mark the first time that they will be produced in partnership with Don and Kel Muña, the founders and directors of the Guam International Film Festival. The Muña brothers are established filmmakers who have long been avid supporters of Marianas filmmakers. They recently concluded a film seminar with Pacific Islanders in Communication, in which D&R Visuals participated.
In discussing the films, Don Muña observed, “The maturity in the visual perspective and the historical knowledge that the students from Mount Carmel School have shared through their work is proof we can preserve, restore and perpetuate our culture by bridging the generational gap through visual communications.” Muña went so far as to say, “The film series is sheer genius and what I would define as a digital cultural immersion.”
This immersion is what the school wants to continue with three more installments in the series to coincide with this year’s commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the end of World War II battles on Saipan and Tinian.
Deleon Guerrero noted how the stories are coming full circle. “For the 60th anniversary, the We Drank Our Tears book was published to chronicle the experience of civilians in the war. 15 years later, we are keeping those stories alive by bringing them to life in film.”
The three new films are slated for premieres this summer. More information about local screenings will be announced as the films complete post-production editing.
In addition to collaborating with the Muña brothers and D&R Visuals, the school will continue to produce the films in partnership with TRIBE Marianas, Northern Marianas College, and the Northern Marianas Council for the Humanities.
All films are adapted from “We Drank Our Tears”, a 2004 oral history of the civilian experience of World War II battles on Saipan and Tinian, published by Pacific STAR Young Writers Foundation. In 1944, some of the final battles of World War II were waged on the Pacific islands of Saipan and Tinian. 933 indigenous Chamorro and Refaluwasch civilians did not survive the battles, and the films chronicle some of their stories