Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan's "The Headhunter's Daughter" won the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at the recently concluded 38th Sundance Film Festival held in the United States of America.
The Cordilleran film, which made its world premiere at the festival's Shorts Program 4, is only the second Filipino short film to ever compete in the prestigious festival.
Shot during the pandemic, the movie is about an aspiring country singer from the Cordilleras who ventures into the big, busy city of Baguio on horseback to enter a singing contest. In the process, the central character, Lynn, exposes herself to the post-colonial world of the city, seeing it from the eyes of an indigenous person.
"The Headhunter's Daughter" was shot with a very tight crew of four which, on different occasions, increased to six or eight.
"It was important for us to make this film with the community that we have in our hometown, as well as people who share the same identity as me, to be creating art together," the filmmaker told Sundance. "We managed to make something intimate and very personal to us."
Don Josephus Raphael is an independent filmmaker born of Ifugao and Visayan descent. His works explore themes of trauma, and nature told through the cosmic lens of post-colonial spaces and indigenous identities.
Eblahan's historic win at the Shorts Program 4 completes the country's successful participation in the festival as Martika Escobar's "Leonor Will Never Die" claims the 'Special Jury Award for Innovative Spirit' which is also the country's first-ever win in the festival's World Cinema Dramatic Section.
In 2021, one of Eblahan's films entitled "Hilum" also won the Student prize and received a special mention from the international jury at Clemont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival.
Sundance Film Festival is the largest independent film festival in the United States that brought wider recognition for iconic films such as "Saw," "The Blair Witch Project," "500 Days of Summer," and "Boyhood."
The Igorot community proudly congratulates Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan and his team for bringing honor to the country. Congratulations!