(LEFT) Award-winning Filipino American filmmaker Stephen Dypiangco has submitted his documentary work, “Home Unknown” (RIGHT), his cinematic attempt to reconnect with his roots by travelling with his parents to their homeland, the Philippines. (Photos from and )


When ABS-CBN’s Cinematografo Originals Contest – a U.S.-based competition which aims to foster and nurture new filmmaking talent from the Filipino diaspora — launched earlier this month, not many knew the reason for the contest’s choice of name.

According to the Philippine National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the first films shown in the Philippines were four French titled movies shown by Spaniards at the Salon Pertierra at no. 12 Escolta in Manila on January 1, 1897. Another Spaniard named Antonio Ramos became the first motion picture producer in the Philippines in 1898. The first hall exclusively for movie viewing was opened in 1900 by a British named Walgraph who naturally called it Cine Walgraph in Calle Santa Rosa in Intramuros. It wasn’t until 1903 that a Filipino stage backdrop painter named Jose Jimenez set up the first Filipino-owned movie theater in Azcarraga Street, in front of Tutuban Train Station.

The name of the theater? Cinematograpo Rizal. By 1909, just six years later, even premier zarzuela, opera and vaudeville venues were showing films.  Likewise, provinces in the Philippines which had electricity saw the mushrooming of movie houses.

“This is the same enthusiastic acceptance among filmmakers and movie-going audience that we’re looking for Cinematografo Originals Contest,” said ABS-CBN Global Head of Theatricals John-D Lazatin who is also director for the Cinematografo Film Festival in October this year, the debut platform for the winning entries of the contest.  “We’re very honored to have received the attention and early participation of highly respected Filipino filmmakers in this contest.  This augurs very well for our culminating activity this year which is the film festival.”

Stephen Dypiangco: Awesome Asian Bad Guy Searches for “Home Unknown”

Speaking of highly respected entries, one of those who submitted early entries to the Cinematografo Originals Contest co-produced the 2010 Academy Award-winning American live action short film, “God of Love”.  This producer, director and digital executive also produced the action comedy film, “Awesome Asian Bad Guys”, distributed by FilmBuff, which was shown in CAAMFest, LA Asian Pacific Film Festival and is available on iTunes and Amazon.

Stephen Dypiangco, the youngest son of Filipino immigrants who grew up in the multicultural suburbs of east Los Angeles, is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and New York University’s Graduate Film Program.

After serving with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Camden – the most violent city in New Jersey – and also working with migrant farmworkers in Pennsylvania, Dypiangco was motivated to make socially conscious films. His 2006 short documentary, “Made in the Bronx”, which is about a group of inner-city teenagers learning how to succeed by working together to create something extraordinary, was a Regional Finalist for the Student Academy Awards and won the Best Documentary prize at the Starz First Look Student Film Festival.

Dypiangco co-founded the National Film Society, a media studio that produced over 100 YouTube videos in partnership with PBS Digital Studios.  His brainy and offbeat work has been featured by PBS, The Wall Street Journal, Filmmaker Magazine and Mashable.

Currently, Dypiangco is the Vice President of Digital at cable network Ovation TV, where he oversees digital programming initiatives.  He previously served as Channel Manager of YouTube Nation (YouTube/Dreamworks Animation joint venture), where he established the publishing analytics and audience development processes to help it reach over 2 million subscribers and 54 million views.  He also worked at Netflix as an Enhanced Content Specialist.

For Cinematografo Originals Contest, Dypiangco is submitting a very personal work: a documentary called, “Home Unknown”.

“My project ‘Home Unknown’ focuses on a trip I took to the Philippines to explore my roots with a pair of uncooperative sidekicks…my parents,” said Dypiangco. “I’m driven to tell this story about Filipino identity and family ties because I strongly believe Filipinos all over the world (as well as anyone with quirky parents) will relate to and enjoy it.”  The film is currently in post-production.

Dypiangco is very positive about joining Cinematografo Originals Contest. “I’m very excited about Cinematografo Originals because it provides Filipino filmmakers like me with a serious opportunity to fund their projects,” he said. “I have not seen a Filipino-focused initiative of this scope before, and I look forward to seeing it help bring untold Filipino stories to life.  I do not know of any groups outside of the Philippines who are financially backing Filipino filmmakers specifically, so this project has a real opportunity to foster the development of fresh voices and launch exciting new works.”

For those interested, Cinematografo Originals Contest has three deadlines for submission to allow ample time for filmmakers, including students, to submit the best versions of their entries: January 31, 2017, Early Bird; February 15, 2017, Regular; and February 28, 2017, Late Deadline.  For more information, please visit .


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