TOFARM Film Fest’s big winner, Tanabata’s Wife also a win for Philippine Literature

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Tanabata’s Wife is the biggest winner in the recently concluded 3rd TOFARM Film Festival, bagging nine awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay among others. It is inspired by the classic short story of the same title by Baguio-born author Sinai Hamada, which tells a story about the enduring love of a middle-aged Japanese farmer, an immigrant in La Trinidad Valley, to his wife, a young Bontok woman, despite the challenges of the gap in years between them and the differences of the culture they grew up with.

The original script for the film adaptation was written by veteran fictionist and writing fellow of Likhaan: UP Institute of Creative Writing (UP-ICW), Charlson Ong. Aside from developing the screenplay with collaborators, Mao Portus, and Juan Carlo Tarobal, Charlson Ong also co-directed the film with fellow screenwriter Choy Pangilinan and Lito Casaje, an alumnus from the latest batch of the UP National Writers Workshop (UPNWW) fellows. Their effort in showcasing one of the beloved classics by a Filipino author, highlights the richness of Philippine Literature, as a repository of materials that can be adapted on film.

The success of Tanabata’s Wife wouldn’t be possible without the collaborative effort of the team behind the lens, whose efforts helped them bag the awards for Best Editor, Best Cinematography, Best Music, and Best Production Design. It is also notable that because of Charlson Ong’s affiliation with UP-ICW, some of its fellows, especially with some UPNWW alumni, lend their expertise to the production team. On the other side of the lens, the lead actors of the film stood out with Japanese actor Miyuki Kamimura winning the Best Actor award, and with newcomer Mai Fanglayan winning the Best actress award.

Tanabata’s Wife is proof that, like what Dr. J. Neil Garcia said in his review, “the loveliest gems of our literary tradition… …can and do eminently lend themselves to filmization”.

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