Young filmmakers inspire through stories of love, hope and dignity


Xandrino Mangunay, a former MIFF winner from Asia Pacific, shares that his life was transformed after he first completed his film titled Laum and through his participation in the 2013 MIFF. “I believe that God entrusted us this talent in making films for a purpose. And that is to do something that brings him joy, to deliver the message that we should all work for a world where every human being, young and old, is treated with dignity and respect, and whose rights are protected. And our role is to bring the message to as many audience as possible,” He shares.

Every year, young filmmakers from around the world are selected by a distinguished jury panel for the Manhattan International Film Festival, an annual cultural initiative of World Youth Alliance that seeks to recognize promising young directors committed to promoting human dignity and exploring the depth of the human condition.

Previous films recognized by the festival have examined themes relating to family, community, suffering, empathy, the pursuit of happiness, truth, and the transcendent.

Meet two of our former festival winners and hear their inspiring stories and how the MIFF transformed them.

Love and Dignity

editing_dummies dummies_staff

Dani Alava, from Spain, submitted his winning entry Dummies to the 2013 MIFF. The short film is a 3D animation that tells a love story about two mannequins living in different shopfronts.

According to Dani, the story aims to inspire the audience the power of great love. “At the end of the story, both characters finally end up together, although maybe not in the best conditions, since they finally gather in the bazaar and not in the fancy store. In this case, I think love prevails over superficiality, something we tend to forget nowadays with the massive use of social media and its unavoidable tendency to shallowness,” Dani shares.


“Young people and the promotion of human dignity are two concepts that are undoubtedly linked together to build a better future for all of us. And storytelling is one of the most powerful human abilities to make people empathize and meditate about real life problems,” Dani adds.

His participation to the MIFF has inspired him to create more films that could truly inspire more people around the world. His recent project The Idea Thief, in collaboration with his friend from Colombia, tells a story about the great power of ideas and creativity in shaping the society. The film has been shown and recognized in many international film festivals and will be shown soon in the Short Film Corner of Festival de Cannes in France.

Dani encourages “all young aspiring filmmakers to send their works to the Manhattan International Film Festival, it is a huge opportunity, you get to know awesome creative people from all around the world, giving you more perspective and opening your mind.”

Hope and Family

Production Still 3 Production Still 1

Xandrino Mangunay, a young Filipino film maker, also won the 2013 MIFF with his winning entry Laum (a Visayas word for hope), which tells the story of a six-year old street child named Laum who develops a perception on how to get rich, which eventually becomes her dream. Xandrino shares that the film espouses the value of hard work and thriftiness.

“The protagonist, poor and young as she is, doesn’t resort to begging to attain her goal, instead she works doubly hard and saves for it. The protagonist is also able to draw other people to her because of her positive characteristics, showing kindness and empathy while living a life of dignity and respectability,” Xandrino shares.


He also shares that “his film Laum, tackles the social issues of urban poverty, education, and child labor in the Philippine setting. Many of our folks from the provinces come to Manila to look for greener pastures but they end up even poorer. So, they settle to live as informal settlers. Finding decent jobs also becomes difficult for them, making them live a hand-to-mouth existence.”

“The social issues of urban poverty, education, and child labor make up the problems to be dealt with by my protagonist in the movie. I believe this film will cause awareness to the people and will lead them to do their part in making an impact to these issues,” Xandrino adds.

“I’m currently working as a producer at CBN Asia, a ministry that is committed in proclaiming God’s word through media,” he shared. In the coming months, Xandrino will be producing more spots and segments. And with the new strategies, he hopes to reach out and to inspire more young people.

When asked on what’s the best thing MIFF finalists will experience, Xandrino shares that it’s “the joy in meeting other directors from other countries, seeing their films, sharing techniques and ideas, and learning from their experiences. Through this event, I was able to establish relationships. More than the award or recognition, these memorable experiences stand out.”


WYA invites young people (under age 30) to apply to the 2016 Manhattan International Film Festival. You may click here to complete an application. Deadline of submission is on June 30, 2016.

Winners will receive a certificate and the chance to have their films screened to a public audience at the Festival Screening on November 12, 2016 in New York City and in prominent WYA events in Belgium, Mexico, the Philippines, Kenya and Lebanon. The official list of Festival finalists will be officially announced on August, 2016. You may email the MIFF Secretariat at for inquiries.

It is through your generous contribution that we are able to empower such young people to achieve new heights and discover new potentials. And it is our hope that you continue to help us do the same. Give WYA a gift today or contact our regional offices to make a donation. Your contribution helps us continue to build a better world.

More To Explore