The 36th Interfilm Berlin-Brandenburg Film Festival gave the Best Film Award to “Tarang” (Life’s Pedal) from the Philippines in a virtual ceremony on December 5, 2020. Winning a 6000 euro ($7373) cash prize, the 17-minute film was directed by Arvin “Kadiboy” Belarmino, who co-wrote the screenplay with Khalil Bañares.
Bañares and Jomz Ramirez were the film’s assistant directors while Jan Norman and Jhae Verceles were the production designers, Dan Masinsin and Augustus Amalejo were the editors and Tristian Cua was the cinematographer. Carlo Valenzona and Patsy Ferrer were the producers and Nette Muescan was the line producer.
Produced by Belarmino’s Halikon Films, “Tarang” was one of the 69 competing entries selected from almost 6,000 films from all over the world submitted to the film festival. The film also won the International Jury citation.
“The most striking quality of this film is its candid, blunt and sincere storytelling in which all film departments are equally important,” the citation read. “From the first scene on, it captures the audience: inviting us into the character’s realities instead of judging them. You seem to forget you are watching a short film and think you are watching a documentary, the reality of the film makes you feel like a fly on the wall but there is no wall to hide behind.”
“Tarang” tells the story of Rodel, a sidecar driver who works alongside his wife Aya, a prostitute, in a place where they can hopefully earn enough to survive. They will one day face an unexpected incident in the streets that will test their faith and lives.
The short film stars Soliman Cruz, Nikko Delos Santos, Nats Sitoy, Sunshine Teodoro and Mac Mendoza. Also in the cast are Sure Manuel, Sonny Samonte, Kay Peralta, Micheal Odoño, Reine Cate Guanlao, August Espino, Coleen Conwi, Shy Anne Delos Santos, Frank Ferguson Jr. , Shieka Aljunaibi, Mina Cruz and French Aram.
Belarmino describes “Tarang” as a film that depicts poverty from an unexplored perspective. Its story reaches out to the viewers’ emotional core and leads to empathy as it ultimately implies and hopefully prompts social change, the Filipino filmmaker explained.
Hailing from Cavite, Philippines, Belarmino is an alumnus of De La Salle University Dasmariñas. For him, the year 2020 is a dismal year because of his grandmother’s death and his friends who have died during the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.