Guest blog post from 2013 Best Feature Winner, JD Beales

This week we are excited to be joined by one of our former festival winners for a guest blog post. JD Beales is a Metro area-based filmmaker and executive producer of last year’s Best Feature Film, Oros (The Coin Bearer). To kick off this year’s call for submissions, JD describes his film and experience at last year’s festival:

One truth I’ve found is filmmakers always seek an audience. There was no better feeling than screening our first feature film to my hometown of Washington, DC. Oros (The Coin Bearer) is an international film, shot in the Philippines with an all-Filipino cast and crew. Specifically set in Baseco, Tondo Manila, Oros tells a story unique to Philippine culture. Though this film could have only have been made in the Philippines, it has caught audiences off-guard globally with its universal message of compassion. I am proud of our film and was thrilled to premiere at the DC Independent Film Festival.

In the Philippines, “sakla” is a traditional form of gambling utilizing a Spanish deck of cards. The games afford impoverished families to generate income to pay for burial expenses. In 1978, Presidential Decree No. 1602 was passed into Philippine law eradicating all forms of gambling. Though “sakla” is now considered illegal, some local authorities turn a blind eye, allowing residents to continue playing “sakla” only during wakes. Oros is the story of a middleman named Makoy and his reluctant brother Abet. Makoy and Abet rent unclaimed cadavers from a morgue to stage fake, profitable wakes, taking advantage of law enforcement complacency.

I had a wonderful experience attending DCIFF and have formed strong, long-lasting friendships with other filmmakers, actors, festival staff and attendees as a result. The theater was large and inviting. The movie screen was enormous. The staff was professional and accommodating. The question and answer sessions were well moderated. I was so happy just to be a part of the festival that when they announced Oros as the winner of the 2013 Best Feature Film, I was completely caught off guard.

We are still fortunate enough to be showing Oros at film festivals around the world but look forward to releasing Oros to the general public in the near future.