Photo courtesy of Raymund Ribay Gutierrez
After receiving one prestigious laurel after another in film festivals across the world for his short film Imago, Mapúa Institute of Technology alumnus Raymund Gutierrez is making a name for himself in the liberal arts world.
A graduate of Bachelor of Science in Multimedia Arts and Sciences from the School of Multimedia and Visual Arts, Gutierrez has been bagging numerous awards in various film festivals since his nomination for a Palme d’Or in the Short Film tilt of the 69th Cannes Film Festival in 2016, his badge of honor in the film industry.
In 2017, Gutierrez’s Imago bagged the Edward Snowden Award at the 15th Internationales Festival Zeichen der Nacht held in Berlin. This comes on the heels of acclaims that Gutierrez received in 2016. He won Best Short Film in the Toronto International Film Festival, Best Short Film in the Stockholm International Film Festival, and Best International Short Film in the London Short Film Festival. The short film has also been screened at the Busan International Film Festival and at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
Despite the worldwide recognition that Imago is now enjoying, Gutierrez recalled the humble beginnings of his short film. With a small crew, crowded locations, and limited resources, filming was peppered with many challenges. “I made the film over about three days. Sometimes, my staff would have two roles to perform in the set. Secondly, I had to revise the script after the shoot because the main idea that I thought of was not working. I decided to rewrite and reshoot the film,” said Gutierrez. “Third, we were working with a very limited budget, so every minute during the shoot mattered.”
“I had to rely and collaborate with my team who are more experienced in filmmaking,” he stated.
Gutierrez said that his primary motivation in Imago, and his work in general, are his referents. “The fact that they entrusted me their stories feels like a responsibility to tell it truthfully. Stories that are not sensational but in fact gradable,” he stated.
It is this attachment to real life that makes Imago stand out from others, according to Gutierrez. He shared that Imago revolves around a small Filipino community, a milieu representing the marginalized sectors of the country. Imago tells the story of a middle-aged woman named Inday (Ruby Ruiz), who works a late-night shift as a funeral agent and has a daughter with autism named Inna (Inna Tuason).
“I think my story tackles a strong social issue: the perspective of some Filipinos about life and death and how they live in great desperation to earn a living,” he shared. “It’s about real stories, about real human beings, which can inevitably be depressing.”
Gutierrez acknowledged that Mapúa played a crucial role in his eventual success as a director. He noted that although some things cannot be taught within the four walls of a classroom, his time in Mapúa helped him forge skills and discipline that paid off later.
“As an average college student, I had a really hard time coping with the curriculum, basically with its fast-paced form of teaching,” he stated. “However, I accepted it as a challenge. I was making strategies, developing solutions just to meet my deadlines and perform well. I learned to never give up. Little did I know that the values I developed in my college life would become a strong foundation to face the reality outside.”
To young creative minds who hope for the same success as Gutierrez, he shares some advice: Don’t sweat the small stuff. “Perfection doesn’t and will never exist. It’s just spending too much time on irrelevant details that leads to failure and depression. Always do your best but never expect,” Gutierrez said. “To the young artist, there is no original anymore. It's just how we express ourselves that our stories become unique.”