Filipino filmmakers are making their mark at the 43rd Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF). Aside from acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza who is Chairman of the MIFF Competition Jury, and Lav Diaz in the Masters program, another Filipino has achieved a feat at the prestigious filmfest.
Filipino-Australian director Matthew Victor Pastor’s film on anti-racism “A Pencil to the Jugular,” has been selected for the MIFF’s Lockdown program; this special lineup includes some of the world’s most significant movies made during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Filipino Australian director Matthew Victor Pastor, ‘A Pencil to the Jugular’ poster
“A Pencil to the Jugular,” co-written by Pastor and Lorena Zarate, features a multi-cultural cast from the Philippines, Mexico, Korea and China, including Akira Matsuda, Felise Morales and Maria Cruz. Pastor also plays a role in the film. The 121-minute feature is based on the filmmakers’ shared experience of what international students had to live through during COVID-19. The story revolves around the anxieties of young migrants during the extended lockdown of 2020. Left with no financial support, these youth face an uncertain future.
This latest work is the director-writer’s statement against the hate crimes towards Asians. Pastor says, “Violence towards Asians has grown since the global pandemic. In Australia, in particular, we’ve seen waves of racism based on fear and ignorance.” Through his film, Pastor hopes that “multicultural communities can stand in solidarity… and allow us (Asians) to write ourselves into history.”
The 32-year-old director traces his roots to Luzon. “My maternal Lola is originally from Nueva Ecija and my Lolo is from Ilocos Norte. They moved to Manila where my mum was born. My father, who also has Filipino-Brunei heritage, migrated to Australia in 1966. He travelled from Australia to the Philippines to marry my mother.” Pastor was born in Melbourne in 1989.
Pastor keeps close ties to the Philippines where is also part of the local film community. In fact, his film “Melodrama/Random/Melbourne” won Best Musical Score at the 2018 Sinag Maynila Film Festival and was nominated for a FAMAS Best Musical Score award. His heart goes out to his brothers and sisters in the Philippines who are in the midst of a long ongoing battle against COVID-19. To his fellow Filipinos and Filipino filmmakers, he shares this message: “This is the time to write and tell stories about the times we live in. I hope that ‘A Pencil to the Jugular’ will inspire others to write their own pandemic story. My thoughts and prayers for everyone back home. Please take care and stay safe.”
Pastor currently has another pandemic themed film screening “The Neon Across the Ocean” as part of Cinema Rehiyon, staring newcomer Waiyee Rivera and a Filipino Australian cast.
The 43rd Moscow International Film Festival (MIFF) is one of the first international filmfests to run as a physical event this 2021. It takes place from April 22 to 29; and runs on site for the Russian moviegoers and virtually for international delegates. For information about “A Pencil to the Jugular” in the MIFF, visit http://www.moscowfilmfestival.ru/miff43/eng/films/?id=43141. To watch the trailer, visit https://vimeo.com/533867251.