The Fire That Fueled Kyle Nieva’s Kids On Fire: CINEMALAYA 2021 BEST SHORT FILM DIRECTOR

The young Kyle Nieva must have been elated because his long-time dream of making it to Cinemalaya has finally materialized. Not to mention, a big bonus was sent right in front of his computer screen after being announced Best Director in a virtual awarding of the most anticipated independent film festival in the country.

Kyle Nieva, Director of "Kids On Fire" An Official Entry to the 17th Cinemalaya Film Festival

“When I was young, I had always dreamt of being part of Cinemalaya. Like when I was in high school, I already kind of knew that I wanted to be a filmmaker. And If I was going to be a filmmaker, I knew I had to go to Cinemalaya because I think every starting filmmaker goes through Cinemalaya at some point in their careers. So I think it's a childhood dream for me. I’m really happy for my younger self.”

The Film Dream is fortunate enough to meet this talented director who will soon make waves in the bigger screens.


Growing up, Kyle really wanted to be an architect. He is fascinated in building worlds and he admits that it seems to be a fulfilling creative pursuit. But seeing his dad who used to do background art for animation projects in Disney movies and TV shows enlightened the path he really wanted to pursue—filmmaking.

“I was inspired by my dad. I was really amazed by how he created all these worlds wherein the characters would move around. It’s similar to being an architect, but I think filmmaking has a more global reach.

“Well, little did I know, several years later, I would take up film to make worlds of my own characters.”


Kyle Nieva took up a bachelor’s degree in Film at the University of the Philippines Film Institute. His official entry to this year’s Cinemalaya, “Kids On Fire” was actually his undergraduate thesis film.

But his journey towards completing his film wasn’t as easy as you would think.

“Kids On Fire” started in school. It’s my undergraduate thesis film at UPFI and we’re very fortunate to have shot this before the pandemic, maybe around 2018. It was only last year that I got to premiere this film,” Kyle shared.

“I started my thesis work in 2016 or 2017. I just kept on postponing it because I was still trying to look for the story that I really wanted to tell. And since I was going to use a lot of resources, a lot of people’s time and energy as well as production budget, I really tried to pinpoint that certain story. And this is something that I think would be worthy of all those resources.”

He also shared that he wrote the story in a couple of months and then submitted a version to his university for requirements purposes and took another year to finish.