• Coleen Castro

Digging Deeper into Kenny Leoncito's Award-Winning 'Portrait of a Lady'

In case you missed it, Portrait of a Lady (2019), an award-winning animated short film produced by an all-Pinoy crew can now be streamed online.

The film reflects human fear, struggles, and anxieties within a family. The film is accompanied with a stupendous sound-score and the Ili Ili Tulog Anay lullaby that gave life to the film's visuals and actively woke up our senses. The use of basic shapes highly contributed to the characters represented in the film. These shapes were magnified with the use of colors such as black, red, green, yellow, pink, and white in association with the dramatis personae of the film, as these colors are also influenced by the artistic contributions of the late Juan Luna. The play replicating Baroque paintings, the dark dramatic lighting evoking the feeling of fear and terror, the framings, and transitions greatly contributed to the film's story line.

Behind Portrait of a Lady (2019) is a great Filipino production team headed by director Kenny Leoncito who produced the film during his last year of stay in Sheridan College's Bachelor of Animation Program in Ontario, Canada. The art direction by Leoncito had Michael Hanan as the mentor; the composition or score was by Mason Victoria, while behind the vocal talent is Katalina Enverga; the colorists are: Aroona Khiani, Jirah Buiza Patrick Macadat, and Michelle Ramos; and the layout assistants are Mikka Loise, Natividad Jayoung, and Min Lea Clarin.

The film was made to also pay homage to the Filipino artist Juan Luna, a known social activist in the 19th century during the Philippine Revolution.


"I have a deep interest in Asian Media politics and Asian representation in western media. I want to be able to present myself as a Filipino artist by featuring and paying tribute to a classical Filipino artist who was also an immigrant," Leoncito said.


The film features a young boy named Andres Luna, the only child of Juan Luna and Maria de la Paz Pardo de Tavera. Andres is raised in a home fraught with tension, his father being abusive by nature and his mother rumored to be an infidel wife. And with their financial stability at stake, the boy had to constantly face a series of arguments that unfolded before his very young eyes. On the 23rd day of September year 1892, a loud gunshot was heard in their abode in Madrid. Juan was driven by anger at the idea of the Tavera family taking his wife and son away from him. His wife and his son locked themselves up in the room on the second floor of their residence. As Juan kept banging on the door, the two would not budge and surrendered to their fear. Juan, driven impatient by the situation, pulled the trigger and with the bullet passing through the keyhole, shot his wife in front of their son. The last part of the film shows the remaining image of Tavera being painted by Luna who, as historians claim, was haunted by his wife.


In fact, families previously in possession of the painting faced great misfortunes such as accidents, business bankruptcy, miscarriages, and property destruction. Now, the "Portrait of a Lady" is being kept at the National Museum of the Philippines.


True to its being a masterpiece, the film garnered various awards such as: Honorable Mention, Asia South East Short-Film Festival Autumn (2019); Best Animated Short Film (2019) and Best Student Short Film, Asian Cinematography Awards (ACA); Finalist, Short Film Factory (2019), Feel The Reel International Film Festival (2019); Semi-Finalist, Los Angeles Film Fest (2020); Official Selection for the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (2019); Cartoons Underground (2019); Ngilngig Asian Fantastic Film Festival Davao (2019); Animation Studio Festival; and Nominee, Student World Awards (2019).


Watch the short film here:

Read more and see how Leoncito created the animated film here.


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