(Press release from DOST-STII) The seventh season of the Indie-Siyensya Film Festival concluded with a celebration of science, technology, and the arts, with films exploring seaweed farming and innovative fish spawning practices claiming top prizes last December 12 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City. The science filmmaking competition, which started in 2016, is an initiative by the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI), in partnership with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).
In 2023, the festival received over 60 entries following the theme “Sustainnovation: Harnessing Science and Technology Towards a Greener Community,” with the goal of communicating science using film as a medium to document research activities and its contribution to science and technology development in the country.
Indie-Syensya winners: Open Category
“Sagbot sa Dagat” by Frankie James Balos took home the coveted Best Film award in the Open Category, immersing viewers in the ambitious journey of Mindanao-based start-up All.g as they explore the potential of seaweed to combat climate change. The film, which features the seaweed farming community in Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte, also won the Viewers’ Choice Award.
“The first intention of All.g is to try to find an alternative for carbon crediting using seaweed, but it turns out that that is not possible. Upon discovering the importance of seaweed farming, they shifted into a different goal, which is to help seaweed farmers produce more seaweed. With that, they developed this technology, which you can see in the film,” said scriptwriter Barby Gwynne Ebardo.
Ebardo, a sophomore Computer Engineering student from Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology, emphasized the film’s aim to educate the public about seaweed farming and its potential to benefit communities and the environment. “Not all people know seaweed farming, and it is very great that we have this opportunity to show people how important it is, especially to Sir Teodulo, Sir Jojit, and the rest of the people who work in the seaweed farming industry, especially that it has a lot of uses in a lot of fields like cosmetics. It is used in soaps and a lot of necessities in human life.”
“Out of Sight, Out of Mind” by Nathan M. Gumba clinched the second spot, shedding light on a company revolutionizing the packaging industry with biodegradable alternatives crafted from cassava starch. Meanwhile, third place went to “KaKaSa Ba?” by Van Allen Eltagonde, a documentary delving into the eco-friendly practices of Villa Socorro Farm, proving that sustainability and entrepreneurship can go hand in hand.
Indie-Syensya winners: Youth Category
The ten-minute film documentary “Semilya” by Marck Palpal-Latoc explored hormone-induced fish spawning and its impact on Filipino fisherfolk. It was named the Best Film in the Youth Category.
“First, we mainly want to focus on agriculture, but since we are from Rizal, mas malapit po sa amin ‘yung Laguna de Bay, so we focused on the aquaculture or fisheries sector. We went to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Tanay, and we asked the experts there for innovations na pwede naming i-feature na ginagamit din ngayon ng mga fisherfolks po namin for entrepreneurship para magamit po siya in line with this year’s theme of Indie-Siyensya,” said Palpal-Latoc, a Grade 12 student from Rizal National Science High School.
Second place went to “Plugged in for Progress: The Power 4 All Mission” by Dominicq Emanuelle Peña, a film that follows the journey of social enterprise “Power 4 All” in uplifting the lives of Filipinos by providing sustainable and innovative solutions to communities without access to power and clean water. Quezon Province students’ comeback film “Anigham” by Jerick Marc Laurence C. Grimaldo, which blends the words ani (harvest) and agham (science), won third place. It features the coffee and salabat farming community in Dolores, Quezon.
All winners from both categories received trophies and cash prizes amounting to Php 200,000 for the Best Film, Php 150,000 for the Second Best Film, and Php 100,000 for the Third Best Film.
Selected films were also recognized through special awards:
- Best Screenplay: “Bagong Bihis” by Michael Joe Gerona
- Best Editing: “Lusaw: Exploring Urban Agriculture” by Miko Buan Acuña
- Best Cinematography: “Daing” by Darryl Villafuerte
- Most Gender-Sensitive Film: “Natatanging Palayok” by Ein Gil Camuñas
- Viewer’s Choice Award (Youth): “3Cs: Coconut Cultivation and Culture” by Carlos Miguel Enriquez
- Viewer’s Choice Award (Open): “Sagbot sa Dagat” by Frankie James Balos
“As the agency dedicated to fostering scientific progress, the Department of Science and Technology takes immense pride in supporting the Indie-Siyensya Filmmaking Competition, a platform that celebrates the convergence of science, technology, innovation, and the arts,” said DOST Secretary Renato Solidum.—MF