National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera Praises MMFF 2019 Official Entry ‘Culion’

Being part of the Metro Manila Film Festival is one thing, but to get high praises from a National Artist who is also the head of the selection committee is a validation that the people behind a film is doing the right thing. Or maybe even more.

That’s what happened to the most controversial entry to this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, Culion.

Watch this video taken after the announcement of all the entries of the Metro Manila Film Festival 2019 with Culion producer and star Iza Calzado with National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera:

Producer Shandii Bacolod also posted this on her Facebook account with the caption:

“Sharing this video that almost made me cry. Grabe super emotional kami ni Maria Izadora Calzado.

NATIONAL ARTIST – BIENVENIDO LUMBERA (Head of the Selection Committee of MMFF2019) said that 1) It has been a long time since he cried on a film. CULION touched his heart and made him cry! 2) CULION was number one in his list!

He also spoke to me briefly and said: “Pumalakpak ako. Pinaiyak niyo ako. Tell Ricky (Lee) and Alvin why do they keep making films na napakasakit!”

Thank you Sir Bien! Mabuhay kayo!


It was quite an emotional for both parties. It seems the film ‘Culion’ was still fresh in Lumbera’s head and Iza, being the main star and one of the producers is in awe receiving praises from a national artist.

This is not surprising though. A film written by the most awarded writer in the Philippines, sir Ricky Lee and directed by one of the most award-winning directors in the country, Alvin Yapan, who is also an educator, their tandem should produce something epic. Also adding Shandii Bacolod, who have produced critically-acclaimed and controversial films like ‘Oro,’ ‘What Home Feels Like’ and ‘Double Twisting Double Back.’ And if that’s not enough, master cinematographer Neil Daza frames this epic historical drama movie.

Watch the teaser trailer of ‘Culion’ below and watch the movie in cinemas December 25, 2019. An official entry of iOptions Ventures to the Metro Manila Film Festival 2019.

About Culion

This is as much the story of three women as it is the story of Culion.

In the 1940s, Anna, Doris, and Ditas are three patients afflicted with Hansen’s Disease (or widely known as leprosy) who live in Culion at a time when the disease is practically a life sentence. No cure has yet been found, and no one is allowed to leave.

You live and die there. It is why the place is called the “Island of No Return”.

Anna (Iza Calzado) never loses hope that soon a cure will be found, even when her baby is taken away from her. Doris (Jasmine Curtis-Smith) believes in the myth that a beautiful diwata will soon heal the place. Ditas (Meryll Soriano) keeps attempting to kill herself, helpless against the onslaught of memories from the outside world.

Together the three friends try to negotiate a life of stigma that seesaws between hope and despair, redefining their roles as women, mother, friend, and human being. In the end they prove that neither disease nor death can erase their humanity and their capacity to endure.

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