The Brighter Side of Not Winning in Film Festivals


The Brighter Side of Not Winning in Film Festivals

This is not a post about failure and success, nor about not giving up, and learning to stand every time you fall. No, that’s too cheesy and overrated.

This is also not a rationalization or some glorified-self-excuse because Studio Inspiro’s film was screened last night at Binisaya Film Festival but did not win anything.

This post is about poster-making contests.

Way back in elementary and high school if there was a school competition that I am always present in that would be the poster making contests. And for the record, from elementary to high school to college, I only won once! That was when I was already 4th year college, and I just completely didn’t really give a damn about it but I was a society officer and no one else was there to represent our school. So, I was sent to a different university it was like there were only 3 or 4 of us contestants!

“Hanz, overall champion, yoh! (In your face!)”

I guess that was the universe’s small way of saying, “Let’s give Hanz a chance!”

Even before, I already noticed that I was not winning, and it’s kinda frustrating (duh?). There is always someone who is better than me. There is always someone who had a bad drawing but a better idea. There was always someone who has been winning 3 years in a row. So it was a dead-end pursuit for me. So I stopped drawing and painting, and formed a rock band.

However, strange enough, I noticed that it was only in those poster making contest that people get to know that I do art. I would get to hear good remarks from people. (Unfortunately, no autographs) Teachers started to ask me to do more art stuff here and there (Pa-pogi points!) And eventually, got some money in doing art for outside events.

Fast forward to 2014 and me becoming a filmmaker, we submitted our first short film, “Halok” at the Sinulog Film Festival, and learning from my poster making experience and being a neophyte in the film industry in Cebu, I submitted with only one mindset –

for a minimum fee you could get hundreds of people to actually see your film! That’s it!

It wasn’t about the awards, it was pure innocent intention of sharing what you’ve done to people in the big screen. (In that festival, two small projector screens only, hehehe)

But of course, we did not make it. Our film was never screened.

Life goes on, I made more films, and submitted to festivals still with that idea of the “free screening to people”.

With time, I won awards in some festivals here and there even got a scholarship at Film and Media Arts. Even recently got disqualified last Sinulog 2015. And I realized, there was no really secret formula on winning, there will always be someone better than you, someone with a better idea, and someone who is a hall of famer. But still for me the “free screening” principle continues to be strong.

But there was something special at last night Binisaya’s Film Fest – I walked home very happy and fulfilled. Like I said, we did not win, but there I realized the true essence of that “free screening” principle.

Not winning in festivals reminds me WHY did I ever become a filmmaker in the first place.

It is one those “free screening moments” that you connect to people, and that for me is why I became a filmmaker. I wanted to connect; to share one intangible part of me – my being – to people and hopefully in some way or another it resonates to that intangible part of them. Not just from me, but to everyone who was part of the film.

Last night I heard people laugh and giggle at the back and they clap and that’s enough for me.

In Nino Y Nina (2015), yes, still we didn’t win, but people where crying at the back, I could see handkerchiefs all over, and in me that felt good.

I believe this mindset of mine was also deeply rooted in my earlier experiences shooting documentaries for non-profits and NGO’s. I could not remember how many times we teared up in screenings. And mind you those where not really high quality videos, but the stories connect – it moves something inside of them.

Also the best part is when you see other films as well, you learn what connects effectively or not. And there you grow.

Of course, I had films who had blank faces on people but hey, that’s where I learn, I grow, and I become better.

It is only today that I realized why I feel horrible in those poster-making contests – in some way or another, I was programmed to join to win! Make your class proud, your school proud, and your club proud. Those contests was all about winning – not about the sharing of an experience. That’s why it was so frustrating.

Well, all of us have different why’s in making films. There’s nothing wrong also if you’re really giving it all out to win – that’s ones own personal way of growing, and that’s just perfect.

There are also some who make for art, or just for themselves and if they’re contented, that’s perfect.

So the next time you did not win a film festival – or even any type of competition – ask yourself,

“Why am I doing this in the first place?”

So long as you are happy, and the audience is happy, that’s what matters more.


To the best version of you,




About Author

hanzstHanz Florentino is the founder of Studio Inspiro, a filmmaker, a story teller, a lover and a student of life.View all posts by hanzst →

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