Haiyan tale scoops film award

Film award winners at today's closing ceremony in Bangkok for the Sixth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. (Photo: UNISDR)
By Andy McElroy

BANGKOK, 26 June 2014 – “Their houses may fall, their businesses may be lost, but, by God, the men of Guiuan will look good.”

So begins the uplifting story of how Alan Alcantara – the Barber of Guiuan – picks up himself and his small business in the wake of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) in the Philippines last November.

The captivating tale that typifies the resilience and self-reliance of the Philippines and its people was one of the winners of the short film competition which lit up today’s closing ceremony of the 6th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

Patricia Evangelista, who received the award for the film ‘The Barber of Guiuan’, recounted the making of the film: “Alan Alcantara is a barber, has always been a barber, the same as his grandfather and his uncles before him.

“Then Yolanda hit and afterwards it was a desperate time, he said, it was a hopeless time … and then the men started coming to have their haircut and tell their stories. We met him about 10 days after the storm and it was amazing to see him just carrying on amid this scene of terrible tragedy.

“The story is intended to show that people affected by disasters are not just statistics but in fact they are ‘one of us’; in other words they matter as people.”

The competition attracted more than 41 entries from Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The winners of the four categories were as follows: youth category - Suthat Surahta for the film Both Cheewit Likit Fah; professional category - After Yolanda: The Barber of Guiuan team for the film The Barber of Guiuan; NGO category - Mursida Akter for the film Disaster Risk Reduction in Bangladesh; and general public category - Amporn Wapod for the film Changmeo: My Love Village.

The competition was organised by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in cooperation with the Thailand Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) and Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

“Short films are very important to convey serious issues and we have been very pleased to see so much creativity to promote disaster risk reduction issues,” said Ms Brigitte Leoni, from UNISDR, who was part of the jury.

The other four jury members were: Mr. Anothai Udomsilp from Thai PBS, Ms.Chatraporn Kaewyont from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation; Ms Patraporn Sangphuangthong from TV Burabha; and Ms.Meave Nightingale, of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

UNISDR is now calling for entries for a new World TV Documentary competition with the winners being honoured at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, in March next year.

The competition, which is supported by the Asian Broadcasting Union (ABU) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), is open to TV broadcasters only. It seeks entries for documentaries produced between 2005 and 2015 that capture progress in one of the themes of disaster risk reduction.

Entries must be received by 1 December 2014. To know more about the competition: http://www.wcdrr.org/resources/media/tv
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