The film Panaghoy sa Suba (Call of the River) is Cesar Montano’s directorial debut with an almost entirely Visayan cast, and perhaps the biggest film ever to be shot in its entirety in the Visayas.
Panaghoy sa Suba was shot in Bohol. The scenes showing the beauty and bounty of the river clearly speak of Cesar’s love for his country. The fact that the film was almost entirely spoken in Visayan made it clear that it was a tribute to Cesar’s heritage as a Filipino and a Visayan.
It was given an “A” rating by the Cinema Evaluation Board or CEB of the Film Development Council of the Philippines and was CM Films’ entry to the 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival. The CEB described Cesar Montano’s direction as “meticulous but light-handed.” It turned “a somewhat rambling and slow screenplay into a poetic, sometimes even magical, current of silent struggle and survival.”
The Call of the River is a multiple award-winner. It has bagged Second Best Picture (to Mano Po 3), Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Musical Score, Gatpuno Villegas Cultural Award at the Metro Manila Film Festival, 2004; and Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress at Gawad Suri Awards, Manila, 2005.
Panaghoy sa Suba, which garnered 16 awards and 11 nominations including 5 from the Metro Manila Film Festival, was also given an endorsement by the UNESCO. It was named Best Picture at the “International Festival of Independent Films” held in Brussels, Belgium. Montano was also chosen Best Director. In addition, Montano also won Best Actor in Panaghoy sa Suba in the Golden Screen Awards.
Panaghoy sa Suba was invited as an exhibition in the Tous les Cinemas du Monde (Movies of the World) at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005. It has also been invited for exhibition in other international film festivals in Berlin, Toronto, Tokyo, Korea and in the Czech Republic’s “Karlo Vary Film Festival”. It was shown at the Shanghai International Film Festival on June 11 to 19, 2005 – its second international screening after Cannes (World Cinema category, non-competition). Panaghoy was also shown at the New Delhi’s Asian Festival of Asian Cinema on July 15 to 24, 2005.
He also made the movie Panaghoy sa Suba knowing that it will never make money. His main objective is to show it locally and internationally so as to show them the beauty of our culture and our country.