March 19 ------ Out of nine major awards given during the recently-concluded 26th Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinemas, Filipino film “John Denver Trending” bagged three plums.
On the Facebook page of the movie, the producers of the film revealed these were the Audience Award for a Fiction Film voted by the people of Vesoul; Special Jury Award voted by Tibetan director Pema Tseden, Filipino producer Joji Alonso, Busan International Film Festival Director Jay Jeon, Paris-based producer Yuliya Kim, and film historian Ariel Schweitzer; and the Film Critics’ Award voted by Paris-based English film critic Rosslyn Hyams, Chinese journalist Shurong Hermine Roumilhac, and Paris-based Chinese critic Wang Muyan.
Other winners were films from India, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, South Korea, and Lebanon. On the official website of the French-based film festival, they said “John Denver Trending” got the Special Jury Award for “the accuracy of the description of the consequences of a teenage victim through social media.” The Film Critics’ Award, on the other hand, was bestowed on them for “the director’s frank, balanced and smooth-flowing approach connects us with the potentially serious and uncontrollable consequences of fake news.” Written and directed by Arden Rod Condez, “John Denver Trending” is about a 14-year-old boy whose life took a terrible turn when a video of him brutally attacking a classmate went viral.
It’s not the first time the film made waves abroad. It also took the Best Project award at the 5th Hanoi Film Festival in Vietnam in 2019, and nominated in the 24th Busan Film Festival in the Best Film category. “John Denver Trending” was an official entry to last year’s Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, where it won as Best Picture in the full-length category along with five other awards — Best Actor for Jansen Magpusao, Best Original Music Score, Best Editing, Best Cinematography, and NETPAC.