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Film based on street game

OLIVIA SHIVAS
Last updated 05:00 16/07/2014
Joey De Guzman
FESTIVAL FINALIST: Joey De Guzman is a finalist in the Uni Shorts film festival for a documentary he made about a childhood game.

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A freelance filmmaker and director has been announced as a finalist in this year's Uni Shorts International Student Film Festival.

Joey De Guzman, who moved to New Zealand from the Philippines 14 years ago, began making films while at school.

He always wanted to make a film about a Filipino street game he used to play as a child called tumbang preso, which translates to jailbreak. An opportunity to make it presented itself by coincidence.

He was in the Philippines and about to film a music video, but the rest of the crew were four hours late.

While waiting, he met a young boy and asked him to make a kite. He followed the boy around, filming, while the boy gathered his friends and resources to make the kite.

A year later, De Guzman went back to the Philippines to find the boy. When he did, he followed the boy and his friends and filmed their lives, which included playing tumbang preso, the children's favourite game.

"And then he started talking about his dreams."

"What he wanted to be when we grows up and his friends did the same thing. His dream is to be a policeman . . . and I saw a link between the game and their dreams."

Not only were the children's stories meaningful, but it is important to De Guzman to tell stories that reflect his own experiences.

"In the Philippines a lot of people are into popular culture and I think it's important to keep your roots alive.

"I'm [in New Zealand], I'm growing up here, I miss so much about home," De Guzman says.

The short film Tumbang Preso (Jailbreak) has won best documentary in a student film competition in Canada and he hopes this festival, run by Unitec, will be just as successful.

"I felt really good when I found out I got in because I've entered this particular competition twice before with my other films and I didn't get in. I was like ‘Yes finally, I got one!'."

De Guzman hopes becoming a finalist will help his career as a director.

"It shows that you have international recognition . . . you're competing on an international stage and it brings you up a different level," he says.

"And it's good to have your filmed screened in different countries to tell your story."

The film festival runs from September 12 to 14 and includes panel sessions and guest speakers. The cost is $45 for the general public and $25 for students, which covers screenings, discussion forums and meals.

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Go to unishorts.unitec.ac.nz for information or to buy tickets.

- Central Leader

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