Related film: ABOVE THE CLOUDS
Jose Lorenzo "Pepe" Diokno (born August 13, 1987) is a Filipino motion picture director, producer and screenwriter. His debut film, Engkwentro premiered at the 2009 Venice Film Festival and received the Lion of the Future - "Luigi de Laurentiis" Award for Best Debut Film, as well as the Orizzonti Prize for new trends in cinema.
Diokno was born in Manila, the first of six children of Jose Manuel Diokno, a lawyer, and Divina Aromin, a writer. He was named after his grandfather, the late Philippine senator and freedom fighter, Jose W. Diokno, who died six months before he was born.
Diokno attended La Salle Green Hills for grade school and high school, and the University of the Philippines to take up a bachelor's degree in film.
In 2006, at 17 years old, Diokno made his first short film, an eight-minute dark comedy entitled No Passport Needed. The film was a finalist at the second Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. This was followed in 2008, by a short documentary entitled Dancing For Discipline, which tells the story of the dancing inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center. The documentary was produced by Rock Ed Philippines and The Asia Foundation and enabled Diokno to visit detention facilities around the Philippines. It was at one such facility, in Davao City, that he met two brothers that would inspire his first feature film.
In 2009, at 21-years-old and still a student at the University of the Philippines, Diokno made his debut feature, Engkwentro. Produced on a meager budget, it tells the story of two teenage brothers on the run from a vigilante death squad, while throughout the film, the omnipresent voice of an iron-fisted mayor blasts on. The film premiered at the 2009 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, and was then selected to the 2009 Venice Film Festival, where it received the Lion of the Future - "Luigi de Laurentiis" Award for Best Debut Film, as well as the Orizzonti Prize for new trends in cinema. It also received the NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film at the 2010 Jeonju International Film Festival, and the Gawad Urian for Best Editing.
Diokno's second film, Above the Clouds premiered at the 2014 Tokyo International Film Festival and was nominated Best Film at the 2014 Singapore International Film Festival. The family drama tells the story of an orphaned teenage boy and his estranged grandfather embarking on a journey to overcome their grief. The Filipino-French co-production took three years to make, and was produced with the support of France's Aide aux cinémas du monde, South Korea's Asian Cinema Fund, Switzerland's Visions Sud Est and the Arte Prize from the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival.
In 2015, Diokno produced his third feature, Kapatiran, an experimental film cum cinematic essay on fraternities and Filipino society’s tribal nature. It was an Official Selection at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, and was a grantee of the QCinema Film Festival. In some ways, the film was a return to Diokno's roots — a low-budget, realist work of social commentary. Critics described the film as “absolutely brave", “exceptionally personal and powerful", “Harsh, heartening, dizzying, and deadly", and “a fascinating experiment".
In 2015, Diokno, along with frequent collaborators Bianca Balbuena and Lilit Reyes, embarked into television with Single/Single, a romantic comedy miniseries about the lives of Filipino millennials. He also began working in advertising, and has worked with brands such as Safeguard, BPI, Jollibee, Knorr, Sun Life, Avida, San Miguel, and Metrobank to craft films that tell Filipino stories.
Diokno is chairman of Epicmedia, the independent production company behind Lav Diaz’s Berlin Silver Bear winner, Hele Sa Hiwaga Ng Hapis, and the box office hit That Thing Called Tadhana. He is also the editor-in-chief and a columnist of The Philippine STAR’s Saturday pop culture section, Supreme.