Arts & Leisure

Cinefilipino: ‘a very good festival’

Posted on March 29, 2016

A “VERY GOOD FESTIVAL” was how an executive described the recently concluded Cinefilipino Film Festival, though changes will have to be made as the festival is expected to grow even bigger as it finally “found its niche” among Philippine film festivals.

A SCENE from Cinefilipino’s big winner, Ned’s Project, about a lesbian tattoo artist’s quest to have a baby. -- NED’S PROJECT FACEBOOK PAGE
“[Cinefilipino] is at par with other festivals and I think what has clearly defined us is, one, we’re diverse,” Maria Madonna G. Tarrayo, president and group COO of Unitel Productions Inc. and the film festival director. “Second is our films are audience-friendly -- not necessarily as mainstream as we know mainstream like Metro Manila Film Festival -- but definitely it’s not so alienating. It’s a very good middle-ground,” she told BusinessWorld during the closing dinner on March 22 in Bonifacio Global City.

The biennial festival’s second installment, which ran from March 16 to 22 in select cinemas (Eastwood, Festival Mall, Gateway, Greenhills, Newport, Robinsons Galleria, Robinsons Manila, Robinsons Metro East and Shangri-La Complex cinemas), was described by Ms. Tarrayo as having surpassed its predecessor both in breadth (as it had more categories) and, hopefully, in ticket sales (she said they don’t have the tally yet).

“We want it to be big, we want to build the brand. We want people to have it at the top of their mind that Cinefilipino always gives excellent movies and excellent content,” she said.

But it seemed that the bigger festival took a toll on its organizers as Ms. Tarrayo mulled over having either splitting the festival in two or having to hire more people to manage it.

“I think there should be two categories per festival because this year’s festival [with numerous categories] was difficult [to manage], but if it continues on being one festival, we’d better add more people,” she said.

Aside from feature-length films, this year’s festival had separate categories for documentaries, shorts, mobile video, online video and TV series. “The first one was very manageable -- there were only four cinemas and eight films, there were short films but no documentaries nor TV shows. Now, because of the growing interest, there were nine cinemas and more categories,” she noted.

She foresees being stricter on deadlines next time, as many of the entries this year missed the deadline.

“You need to add more people and be stricter on deadlines... because if something goes wrong, there’s no chance to remedy the situation and it becomes frustrating for the filmmakers as much as it becomes frustrating for us as festival organizers,” she said.

Lemuel Lorca’s Ned’s Project -- about a lesbian tattoo artist who wants to have a child through artificial insemination -- led the winners, taking home six awards including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Production Design and Best Cinematograpy.

Ice Idanan’s Sakaling Hindi Makarating -- a road movie about a heartbroken woman in search of the sender of postcards -- won seven awards including Best Director and Second Best Picture alongside a Best Actor win and technical awards.

Sakaling Hindi Makarating was also the festival’s most popular title, with the festival cinemas adding more screenings up until the last day, and even extending its run for a day after the festival ended.

Trailing behind in terms of popularity was Ang Taba Ko Kasi by Jason Paul Laxamana -- a rom-com about a plus sized girl torn between her hot swimming instructor and her likewise full-figured friend.

“It also tells us the kind of audience that we have... I guess [with Sakali’s success] a lot of our audiences are females to begin with,” Ms. Tarrayo said.

She also noted that while Junakis by Robert Bryant won the best in the TV series category, all five entries were “very good” and are worthy of being produced and presented on TV -- though plans on production and showing of the series are the responsibility of MediaQuest and TV5, which are festival partners.

“It’s a good festival despite all the glitches. It’s a very good festival,” she remarked before adding that post-festival, the films featured in Cinefilipino will be shown in the University of the Philippines from April 18 to 23.

“After that, there’s no set plans yet as requests for screening have just started rolling in... [but] we hope we can bring it to the provinces, especially the key cities because there’s a demand for it there,” she said.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., maintains interest in BusinessWorld, through the Philippine Star group, which it controls. -- Zsarlene B. Chua