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Filipino queer film is ASEAN movie fest big winner in Bangkok

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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF VY/AC PRODUCTION Elijah Canlas and Kokoy de Santos.

The queer short film, How to Die Young in Manila, from the Philippines won Best ASEAN Short Film award in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Short Film Competition of the seventh Bangkok ASEAN Film Festival (BAFF) held from 8 to 13 December 2021 at the Paragon Cineplex, Siam Paragon in Bangkok, Thailand.

Directed by Petersen Vargas, the film follows a boy as he braves the streets of nighttime Manila looking for hookups and then trails a pack of young hustlers who then draw him into their strange world of death and desire.

The 12-minute film, written by Vargas, Jade Castro and Kaj Palanca, stars Elijah Canlas, Kokoy de Santos, Migs Almendras, Kych Minemoto and Shu Calleja. How to Die Young in Manila has also competed and was screened in different festivals such as the Busan International Film Festival, Tallin Black Nights Film Festival, SeaShorts Film Festival, and Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC Film Festival.

It was one of 14 entries at the ASEAN Short Film category of BAFF, which presented eight films in the Southeast Asian Project Pitch (SEAPITCH), and selected special films from Southeast Asia plus China, Hong Kong and South Korea, whose three films premiered at the Cannes Film Festival 2021.

Other winners in the short film category were Lemongrass Girl by Pom Bunsermvicha from Thailand, Jury Prize; and February 1st by Momo and Leila Macaire from France and Myanmar, Special Mention. On the other hand, Tremble Like a Flower by Pathompon Tesprateep of Thailand won the SEAPITCH Award, while The River Knows Our Name by Mai Huyen Chi of Vietnam bagged the Runner-Up Prize, and The Beer Girl From Yangon by Sein Lyan Tun of Myanmar, the Special Mention.

Minister of Culture Ittiphol Kunplome presided over the opening and closing ceremonies of the festival, which was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, officials from the National Film and Video Committee, the National Federation of Thai Film Associations and other representatives from film-related agencies.

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