By Jeffrey O. Valisno, Sub-Editor

Crossing over

Posted on July 26, 2013

Film Festival 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival July 26 to Aug. 4. Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City July 27 to Aug. 4 Greenbelt 3 Cinemas, Ayala Center, Makati City; Trinoma Cinemas, North Ave., Quezon City; Alabang Town Center Cinemas, Alabang-Zapote Road, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

IN RECENT YEARS, the annual Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival has become one of the more important movie events in the local entertainment scene.

SCENES from Cinemalaya movies (Top to Bottom): Ekstra, Debosyon, The Diplomat Hotel and The Liars
Cinemalaya has paved the way for movies made outside the mainstream studio system to get access to a wider audience, and critical acclaim both here and abroad.

The festival has also allowed mainstream directors and actors to go beyond the demands of major film companies and do projects that they desire.

Occasionally, “indie movies” such as last year’s Bwakaw get shown in commercial cinemas after their Cinemalaya run. Indie actors like Eugene Domingo and Coco Martin get big-budget film projects from major studios, and indie directors like Veronica Velasco -- director of Cinemalaya’s 2005 best picture winner Last Supper No. 3 -- get to direct movies like the recently screened Tuhog, which was distributed by a major film production outfit like Star Cinema.

Meanwhile, “mainstream” actors like Vilma Santos (in this year’s Cinemalaya entry Ekstra) agree to substantially reduce their talent fees to get roles in independent movie projects.

Directors like Ekstra’s Jeffrey Jeturian, who is paid handsomely to helm projects like the hit daytime drama TV series Be Careful with My Heart, still find time despite hectic work schedules to shoot indie movies with much smaller budgets.

Cinemalaya Festival Director Chris B. Millado said the growing influence of Cinemalaya in the local movie industry has paved the way for the crossover between independent and mainstream cinemas.

“Cinemalaya is now on its ninth year. Since 2005, we all have seen how the festival has evolved into the most exciting and influential festival in the country. It has introduced new voices in filmmaking and launches their careers nationally and internationally,” Mr. Millado told reporters at a press conference held earlier this month.

“Cinemalaya has enticed the commercial mainstream to crossover and redefine their art and craft. It has hosted the emergence of an in-between world which some filmmakers… [have been] labeled as ‘maindie’ -- a liminal sphere straddling and invigorating independent and mainstream cinema,” he added.

Encouraged by the growing public acceptance of indie movies, Cinemalaya opens its ninth year this weekend with movies that tackle bolder themes, and daring story lines.

“This year’s Cinemalaya gestures towards a cinema that entertains, elucidates, and educates through the senses,” Mr. Millado said.

“Puzzling, entertaining, compelling, mysterious and cathartic. That is the Cinemalaya experience,” he added.

Twenty-five films are competing in Cinemalaya’s main competition categories including 10 New Breed full-length feature films and 10 short-feature films created by new directors, as well as five movies in the Director’s Showcase category featuring works by established directors.

This year’s finalists in the Director’s Showcase are Ekstra by Mr. Jeturian, Liars by Gil Portes, Amor y Muerte by Ces M. Evangelista, Sana Dati by Jerrold Tarog, and Porno by Adolfo Alix, Jr.

The finalists in the Directors Showcase each received a seed grant of P500,000 from the Cinemalaya Foundation. The Best Film in the Directors Showcase will receive P300,000 and the Balanghai Trophy during the festival’s awards night on Aug. 4.

Meanwhile, the movies that will compete in the New Breed full-length feature category are: The Diplomat Hotel by Christopher Ad. Castillo, Instant Mommy by Leo Abaya, Debosyon by Alvin Yapan, Babagwa (The Spider’s Lair) by Jason Paul Lacsamana, David F. by Emmanuel Palo, Nuwebe by Joseph Israel Laban, Purok 7 by Carlo Obispo, Quick Change by Eduardo Roy, Jr., Rekorder by Mikhail Red, and Transit by Hannah Espia.

The 10 finalists of the full-length feature category each received a seed grant of P500,000 from the Cinemalaya Foundation as investment in the production. They also received P100,000 each as post-production incentive from the Quezon City Film Commission.

The Best Full-Length Feature Film will receive P200,000 and the Balanghai Trophy during the awards rites to be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

The New Breed Full-Length feature category is open to Filipino filmmakers who have directed not more than three full-length feature films.

The 10 finalists in the Short Feature category are: Bakaw by Ron Segismundo, Katapusang Labok (Last Strike) by Aiess Athina E. Alonso, Missing by Zig Dulay, Onang by JE Tiglao, Para Kay Ama by Relyn A. Tan, Pukpok by Joaquin Pantaleon, Sa Wakas by Nica Santiago, Taya by Adi Bontuyan, The Houseband’s Wife by Paolo O’Hara, and Tutob by Kissa Mari Campano.

The winner of the Short Feature Category will receive P100,000 and the Balanghai trophy.


This year’s Cinemalaya will open tonight (July 26) with the 7 p.m. screening of the independent documentary film Jazz In Love at the CCP Main Theater.

Directed by Baby Ruth Villarama, Jazz in Love is based on the true story of a gay Filipino named Jazz who prepares for the visit of his German boyfriend, and taking the qualifying language exam at the Goethe-Institut (German Cultural Institute) for fiancées who plan to apply for a visa to Germany.

The film presents a portrait of a couple very much in love. The German visitor, though, is overwhelmed by Philippine realities that may not end happily for Jazz.

Jazz in Love was the recipient of the Regal Prize during the Manila Film Financing Forum of last year’s Cinemalaya. The project is Ms. Villarama’s first independent documentary film.

Jazz in Love is a deconstruction of love in a country where migration is rampant every day… the film hopes to capture an aspiration to follow the dream of true love and known happy endings,” Ms. Villarama said in a statement.

“An average of 350 Filipinos departs daily overseas as partners of foreign nationals. That would picture an estimate 127,750 documented Filipinos leaving the country every year and getting married to foreign nationals. I hope this little film project will shed wisdom on the truth about the universal language of love and leaving,” she added.

After the opening night, the movies featured in this year’s Cinemalaya will be screened at the CCP, as well as in the Greenbelt 3 Cinemas in Makati, the TriNoma Cinemas in Quezon City, and the Alabang Town Center Cinemas in Muntinlupa City.

Aside from the 25 digital movies in competition, Cinemalaya will also show about 70 other movies in exhibition under a variety of sections, including a retrospective of the best picture winners from the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (Urian) from 2000 to 2009, as well as tributes to directors Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Celso Ad. Castillo, and Eddie Romero.

As in previous years, Cinemalaya will also conduct a forum that consists of a series of presentations and panel discussions that explores the various facets of Pinoy indie filmmaking.

For ticket information and screening schedules, call the CCP Box Office at 832-3704 and CCP Media Arts at 832-1125 local 1704/05 or visit the CCP Web site at www.culturalcenter.gov.ph. For the screenings in Greenbelt 3, call 729-7777. For the screenings in TriNoma, call 901-3693 or 901-3694. For the screenings at the Alabang Town Center, call 850-8931.