Black and white film brings color to life with cancer

Director Carl Papa and Erlinda Villalobos winning the Best Film award at the Cinema One Originals Film Festival in November 2015

By Anna Ven Sobrevinas | FilAm Star Correspondent


LOS ANGELES – Attendees of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) were treated to a monochromatic work of art filled with hope and humor amidst living with limited time through Carl Papa’s “Manang Biring.”

Co-presented by LA’s FilAm Arts, FilAm Creative and Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), the 2015 film stars Erlina Villalobos (Magpakailanman, Ekstra) as the feisty Biring – a Quiapo vendor with an off-the-grid house in the heart of Manila. After finding out she has stage four breast cancer, Biring contrives schemes of hilarious and heartwarming proportions to stay alive until Christmas Day for her estranged daughter Nita, portrayed by Cherry Pie Picache (On the Wings of Love, Foster Child).

“At the very core of society is family,” said Papa. “Biring is a story of a strong mother, doing everything for her family. In the Philippines, they say mothers hide their emotions to look okay in front of their families, and that is Biring.”

Biring won the Best Film award at the 2015 Cinema One Originals Film Festival in Manila. Papa was already writing the script prior to the announcement of the festival. He pitched the story in April last year, was funded as a finalist and won in November.

For Papa, Biring is not just a cinematic success – it was his coping mechanism for his mother’s passing in 2012.

“This is my way to move forward and somehow grieve,” he said. “I drew inspiration from my mom, and I wanted to make something that would make her proud of me.”

Under lead animator Eru Petrasanta, almost 50 animators worked on rotoscoping, which is tracing over live footage to come up with an animated footage. According to Papa, production designer Matthew Echague did most of the three-dimensional background, and the former led a separate team of animators in completing the film.

“The reaction of moviegoers was generally positive, and that’s more than I could wish for,” he said. “I want the film to be screened at other locations. As a filmmaker, that is my goal – to spread the story as far as I could.”

The LAAPFF has screened almost 5,000 films since 1983. It showcases films and videos made by Asian and Asian Pacific artists.

Biring’s next venture is going to France – joining the Annecy Festival – one of the biggest animation festivals in the world. Papa entered the festival right after Cinema One, and was chosen as an Official Selection: Out of Competition.