Aswang is the big winner at the 2021 Gawad Urian

The documentary on the war on drugs, Aswang directed by Alyx Arumpac was the night’s big winner at the 44th Gawad Urian awards night, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Documentary, and Best Cinematography.

The ceremony was held on Oct. 21 and streamed via TVUP YouTube and Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP)’s Facebook.

“It’s a recognition from the Philippines and the [Gawad] Urian and that’s probably the most precious thing a documentary filmmaker can have,” Ms. Arumpac said in her acceptance speech for Best Picture. “This is a great push towards working and moving forward to this next project and this next season.”

Aswang follows a group of people whose lives have been caught up by the Duterte administration’s ongoing war on drugs which targets drug dealers, users, and criminals. Among them, Brother Jun Santiago, a photojournalist and missionary brother who comforts bereaved families

The film was screened at the 74th Annual Locarno Film Festival in August. It also won the Coup de coeur du Jury award at the 20th edition of the Festival International du Film Insulaire de l’ile de Groix (FIFIG) France in August. It also qualified in the Documentary Feature category at the 93rd Academy Awards in April.

Aswang is currently streaming on kTxt, Upstream, and Ticket2Me until Nov. 7. Tickets are priced at P15. Ms. Arumpac also partnered with Active Vista ( for free on ground community screening.

Other winners of the evening include: Micko Laurente who won the Best Supporting Actor award for Watch List; while Dexter Doria and Hazel Orencio shared the Best Supporting Actress for their work in Memories of Forgetting and Lahi, Hayop, respectively. Nanding Josef was awarded Best actor for Lahi, Hayop; while Alessandra de Rossi won Best Actress for Watch List.

The ceremony also paid tribute to National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, who passed away at the age of 89 in September. Mr. Lumbera was a co-founder of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino.

“Salamat, Bien, sa iyong buhay na nagpayaman sa kahulugan ng pagiging Pilipino nating lahat (Thank you, Bien, for your life that deepened our understanding of what it means to be a Filipino),” professor, critic, creative writer and MPP co-founder Nicanor Tiongson said.

Meanwhile, the Natatanging Gawad Urian was awarded to director Lav Diaz.

A portion of his citation reads: “para sa pagsustina ng kapangyarihan ng pelikula bilang sining din ng pagmulat at pagbabago, para sa pagbibigay-inspirasyon sa mga nakababatang direktor at filmmaker sa pagtindig laban sa awtoritarianismo at para sa tunay na pagbabago, para sa pagbibigay ng malikhaing tanglaw sa madidilim na yugto na ating pinagdaanan na at patuloy na pagdadaanan pa.”

(For sustaining the power of cinema for awakening and change, giving inspiration to young filmmakers in standing up to authoritarianism and for real change, and for providing creative enlightenment to the darkest chapter of our lives and will continue to encounter.) (

Mr. Diaz’s film Lahi, Hayop also bagged Best Screenplay, alongside its recognition for acting awards.

The Manunuri also honored the Natatanging Pelikula ng Dekada, or best movies of the decade, 2010 to 2019. It also named John Lloyd Cruz as the best actor of the decade, while three actresses – Nora Aunor, Angeli Bayani, and Alessandra de Rossi – share the honor of best actress of the decade.

The Gawad Urian is an annual awards ceremony which has been held since 1977 and is given by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (Filipino Film Critics). It is often regarded as the equivalent of the US’ New York Film Critics Circle. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

Below is the full list of winners:

Best Picture

Aswang by AlyxArumpac

Best Documentary

Aswang by AlyxArumpac

Best Short Film

Ola by Mijan Jumalon

Best Animation

HayopKa: The Nimfa Dimaano Story by Avid Liongoren

Best Director

AlyxArumpac for Aswang

Best Actor

Nanding Josef for Lahi,Hayop

Best Actress

Alessandra de Rossi for Watch List

Best Supporting Actor

Micko Laurente for Watch List

Best Supporting Actress

DexterDoria for Memories of Forgetting
Hazel Orencio for Lahi,Hayop

Best Screenplay

Lahi,Hayop by Lav Diaz

Best Production Design

Darrel Manuel for Memories of Forgetting

Best Cinematography

AlyxArumpac and Tanya Haurylchyk for Aswang

Best Editing

JoselitoAltarejos for Memories of Forgetting

Best Sound

Corrine De San Jose forMidnight in a Perfect World

Best Music

JhayeCura and Paulo Protacio for The Boy Foretold by the Stars

Gawad Para sa mga Natatanging Pelikula ng Dekada (2010-2019): Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria (2010); Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (2012); Ang Paglalakbay ng mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim (2013); Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan (2014); Women of the Weeping River (2017); Tu Pug Imatoy (2017); Baboy Halas (2016); Respeto (2017); Balangiga (2017); Buy Bust (2019); and Ang Babae at Baril (2019).

Natatanging Aktor ng Dekada (2010-2019): John Lloyd Cruz

Natatanging Aktres ng Dekada (2010 – 2019): Nora Aunor, Angeli Bayani, and Alessandra de Rossi

Natatanging Gawad Urian: Lav Diaz (director)