Diverse offerings in Cinemalaya

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NOW ON its 14th year, the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is serving up a diverse menu of films in competition, with genres ranging from comedy to drama to suspense.

“There are very promising films in terms of subject matter and in terms of direction. [They are] also very diverse,” Carmelo “Mel” Chionglo, film director and the head of the monitoring committee of the Cinemalaya film festival, told BusinessWorld shortly after the press launch on July 4 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Unlike in previous years, Mr. Chionglo noted that they didn’t have much difficulty in ensuring that the deadlines were met.

“This shows the fighting spirit of the filmmakers,” he said.

The festival, arguably the largest independent film festival of its kind in the country, runs from Aug. 3 to 12 at various venues at the CCP and in select Ayala Malls Cinemas.

Cinemalaya will present 10 full-length features for its main competition and 10 for the short film competition.

The full-length features are:

Distance, by Percival Intalan, is about a woman who returns after abandoning her family five years before and how everyone tries not to reopen old wounds and reveal the secrets that kept them apart. The film stars Iza Calzado and Nonie Buencamino.

Kuya Wes, by James Robin Mayo, explores the life of the titular character, a timid and earnest remittance clerk who falls in love with a regular customer. The film stars Ogie Alcasid and Ina Raymundo.

Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon (Waiting for Sunset), by Carlo Enciso Catu, is about an old unmarried couple whose monotonous lives are shaken up when the woman’s estranged husband reaches out to them, seeking reconciliation and forgiveness. The film stars Dante Rivero, Menggie Cobarrubias, and Perla Bautista.

Liway, by Kip Oebanda, tells the story of a young mother who uses storytelling to protect her child from the reality of growing up inside prison during the Martial Law years, and the difficult life she endured. The film stars Glaiza de Castro, Dominic Roco, and Kenken Nuyad.

“This is a story full of hope. It’s my story,” said Mr. Oebanda during the launch. In a 2016 Facebook post, Mr. Oebanda related that he was born inside a prison in Iloilo after his mother and father were arrested during Martial Law. His original prison name was “Nadakip” (picked up/arrested) but he changed it to “Kip” after the People Power Revolution.

Ang Mga Bisita ni Mamang, by Denise O’Hara, is about an old woman who struggles against senility to be with her unmarried middle-aged son. It stars Celeste Legaspi and Ketchup Eusebio.

ML, by Benedicto Mique Jr., is another film about Martial Law, but this one looks at how the new generation tries to find the truth behind those tumultuous years by interviewing an old retired soldier. The suspense thriller stars Eddie Garcia, Tony Labrusca, and Liane Valentino.

Musmos na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma (Unless the Water is Safer than the Land), by Iar Lionel Arondaing, tells the story of how children live through the dangers and consequences of war. The film stars Junyka Sigrid Santarin, and JM Salvado.

Pan de Salawal, directed by Che Espiritu, is about a wandering girl who violently hurts the sick to heal them and brings miracles to an ill-stricken neighborhood. It stars Bodjie Pascua and Miel Espinosa.

School Service, by Luisito Lagdameo Ignacio, is a social drama about a young girl taken against her will from the province by a small-time syndicate and who becomes a beggar in Manila. The film stars Aiai delas Alas, Joel Lamangan, and Therese Malvar.

The Lookout, by Afi Africa, is about a gay hired killer who has a score to settle. The film stars Yayo Aguila, Rez Cortez, and Efren Reyes.

In the short film category, Cinemalaya presents Babylon by Keith Deligero, about two young girls who travel through time to assassinate a barangay leader to revise history; Jodilerk dela Cruz, Employee of the Month by Carlo Francisco Manatad, about a gas station attendant on her last day of duty who decides to go out with a bang; Kiko by Jojo Driz is about a blind and aging gay laundress who sees what matters most in life after losing the man he loves; Logro by Kani Villafor, is about a man who decides to take the risk and go for what he wants instead of settling for what people allow him to be; Nangungupahan (Who Rents There Now?) by Glenn Barit is about the lives of different people who occupy a room in an apartment through different points in time; Sa Saiyang Isla (In His Island) by Christian Candelaria is about a young boy struggling with his identity who finds solace in his dream of becoming a mermaid; Si Astri Maka si Tambulah (Astri and Tambulah) by Xeph Suarez in about a Badjao transwoman who is forced to abandon her lover to marry a woman betrothed to her from birth; Siyudad sa Bulawan (City of Gold) by Jarell Serencio is about three brother who take a job in the gold mines amidst a life-threatening reality; Yakap (Embrace) by Mika Fabella and Rafael Froilan is about a woman’s last few moment in life told through dance; and You, Me and Mr. Wiggles by Jav Velasco is about a man and his girlfriend struggling with erectile dysfunction.

Aside from the films in the main and short film competition, Cinemalaya will also have several other sections including Dokyu, the documentary section which will feature Yield (2017) by Toshihiko Uryu and Victor Tagaro and Call Her Ganda (2017) by PJ Raval, among others.

Festival goers will also be able to enjoy films from other countries in Asia in the Visions of Asia section, including Of Love and Law (2017) by Hikaru Toda and Bad Genius (2017) by Nattawut Poonpiriya.

Other sections include Indie Nation, featuring non-Cinemalaya produced independent films; and a section dedicated to the final projects of the Directing and Production Management workshops under the fourth Cinemalaya Institute.

Cinemalaya will pay tribute to director Maryo J. Delos Reyes, who passed away in January, through a special screening of his films Bagets (1984) and Magnifico (2003); and to actor Bernardo Bernardo, who passed away in March, by showing Ishmael Bernal’s Manila by Night.

The Retrospective section will feature the 2017 Cinemalaya Best Film Respeto by Treb Monteras, and Baconaua by Joseph Israel Laban who won Best Director that year.

Now in its 30th edition, the Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video — considered the longest-running independent film competition of its kind in the ASEAN region — will once again showcase the best of the best, with films competing in various categories such as Short Feature/Narrative, Experimental, Documentary and Animation. Pre-selected entries will be screened on Aug. 4 to 6 at the CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theater).

The Cinemalaya Campus is slated on Aug. 7 & 8 at the Silangan Hall. The Cinemalaya Awards Night will be held on Aug. 12, at the CCP Main Theater.

For more information about Cinemalaya, visit www.cinemalaya.org, www.culturalcenter.gov.ph, and the Cinemalaya Facebook page or contact CCP Media Arts at 832-1125 local 1704 and 1712 and the CCP Box Office at 832-3704. — Zsarlene B. Chua