Friday, February 15, 2008

The First Quisumbing-Escandor Film Festival for Health

*UPDATE: Click here to find out the winners in the 1st Quisumbing - Escandor Film Festival for Health*

Be it to Victorian England, or Times Square in New York, or a parallel world of wizards on broomsticks- the movie house is that proverbial transportation hub that ships us out to worlds other than our own. For many, movies are an unwitting means by which we get to be transported to a place so distant we temporarily escape the harsh realities of the milieu we are in, if only for two glorious hours or so. Vicarious victories are enjoyed, onscreen riches are savored, and communal catharsis is reached just as the end credits begin to roll.

Then there is another role of film- to force the spotlight from things mundane to things that ought to REALLY matter. Film has the ability- and responsibility, actually- to attract attention to things that have been rendered unimportant, voiceless, faceless by society too distracted by frivolities. Film can- and must- act as that magnifying lens that helps dissect issues, clarify details, and stimulate discussion that will lead to appropriate action.


Film takes seriously that responsibility as the plight of health is placed front and center with The First Quisumbing-Escandor Film Festival for Health (QEFF). The QEFF is a nationwide competition for amateur filmmakers whose main challenge is to capture on film that delicate interplay among the socioeconomic, political, cultural, and environmental factors affecting health and wellbeing.

The film festival is named after two alumni of the UP College of Medicine- Dr. Honorato Quisumbing (Class of 1945) and Dr. Johnny Escandor (Class of 1969). Dr. Quisumbing was a medical intern at the Philippine General Hospital as World War II was drawing to a close. He was killed while in the service of the sick and needy Filipinos housed in the PGH. Dr. Escandor was a prominent student activist who eventually gave up a promising medical career to fight the Marcos dictatorship, resulting to his death said to be carried out by Marcos’s henchmen. True to the nature of its namesake, the filmfest promises to be a bold expression of the dismal state of healthcare delivery in the Philippines while at the same time it aims to be a medium for inspiring and spurring people to action.

Some 60 entries and guest presentations from Filipino and foreign filmmakers will be shown for free from February 18-20, 2008 in the following venues:

at the Cine Adarna – UP Film Center in Diliman from 5-9pm;

Rm 222 of Calderon Hall and the Center for Community-Oriented Medical Education at the Paz Mendoza Bldg, both in the UP College of Medicine, Pedro Gil Street, Manila from 6pm onwards.

Competition winners will be announced at awarding ceremonies at the PhilAm Life Auditorium along UN Avenue on February 21, 2008 at 6pm.

The First Quisumbing-Escandor Film Festival for Health is a collaboration among the Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity of the UP College of Medicine, Health Futures, Inc, and the Department of Health, with the participation of other partners companies and institutions.

If we can support films that showcase senseless gore and violence or TV medical dramas that tug at our hearts with their endless love triangles and “insider’s view of the real life of doctors”, surely we can rally behind the QEFF. It’s time to see the real state of health in the Philippines, minus the spin and whitewash.

It’s time life takes its cue from art taking cue from life.

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