Filipino animated short sweeps int’l film fest awards

  • By YOU.PH
  • August 10, 2022
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‘Tella’ is a little girl’s magical journey during a good night’s sleep

Tella, a short Filipino animated film on a mysterious girl and a misplaced star, has earned multiple recognitions in film festivals across the globe. 

The 12-minute piece follows the journey of a little girl during a good night’s sleep. She was woken up by a fallen star who wishes to return to the night sky.

The short was written and directed by Filipino animator Zachary Conlu, who trained in the Animation Program of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. He said that the award-winning short was created as a magical world where Tella can play carefree.

Tella leads spectators in an adventure far from the worries of daily life and reminds them of the value of friendship and trust.

“I’ve had Tella in my head since college days. She was always lingering, appearing in the doodles I made during class, finding her way on my notebooks, sketchbooks and different papers I could get my hands on. But strange as it may seem, I never really knew who or what she was,” the artist said.

“The story grew in my head till it became an epic—different characters sprang up and Tella became nothing more than this side character.”

So when it was time finally to put this vision into film, Conlu realized that it was time to turn the spotlight on Tella and give her the back story she deserves.

Tella leads spectators in an adventure far from the worries of daily life and reminds them of the value of friendship and trust.

Filipino animator, ‘Tella’ writer and director, and Benilde Animation Program alumnus Zachary Conlu

“I would like to achieve that sense of escapism in my films—go to new worlds, make new friends, meet some heroes and perhaps fall in love. Then return to the real world, bringing all these new wonders along. In that way, maybe make life a bit more bearable,” Conlu explained. “That’s one of the best feelings I think—to find out that people watched Tella and it helped them forget all of their problems even if it’s only for a little while.”

‘Tella’ sound designer and Benilde Music Production alum Anthony Tobias

With the help of fellow Benildeans Pauline Jan Villanueva, who composed the musical score, and Anthony Tobias, who was tapped for sound design, Conlu’s Tella won the hearts of many viewers across different competitions here and abroad.

‘Tella’ musical scorer and Benilde Architecture alumna Pauline Jan Villanueva

The short bagged Best Soundtrack at the Reale Film Festival Italy. It also won Best Original Score at the Vesuvius International Film Fest Italy, Venezia Shorts Italy.

It was also recognized at the Feel The Reel International Film Festival UK with Best Original Score, Best Animation and Audience Awards.

It garnered the Best Sound Design Award at the International Cosmopolitan Film Festival in Tokyo, Japan.

Musical scorer Villanueva was also hailed as Best Composer at the Toronto Indie Shorts in Canada.

The film was included as an Official Selection at the Tokyo Anime Award Festival, Spark Animation and Around International Barcelona, where it bagged the Best Animation.

“I would like to achieve that sense of escapism in my films—go to new worlds, make new friends, meet some heroes and perhaps fall in love.”

It was recognized with the Best Animation Award in the Kalakari Film Festival in India.

Honorable Mentions for Best Animation were granted by the Long Story Shorts International Film Festival Romania and ARFF Paris Film Festival.

In the Philippines, Tella was nominated for Best Director and Best Editing and won Best Sound Score and Best Sound Design titles at the CineANIMO Film Festival.

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