It is that time of the year once again when the moribund Philippine cinema manages to come alive for a while. No, I’m not talking about the Metro Manila Film Festival, when the opposite usually happens…but I digress. It is the season of Cinemalaya, the Philippine independent film festival which is now marking its 10th year.
For those who are not familiar with this event, Cinemalaya is an annual film festival organized by the Cinemalaya Foundation (headed by Tony Boy Cojuangco) with the support of the Cultural Center of the Philippines that is meant to showcase contemporary, independent Philippine cinema, as well as to give opportunities for new filmmakers and artists, as well as for veteran filmmakers to show their stuff in the indie setting.
The festival has 3 main categories: Directors’ Showcase which features films made by veteran filmmakers, New Breed which highlights films by newbie filmmakers, and the Shorts or the Short Film category. In addition, there is also the ANI, a special category for exhibition films that are not in competition.
Over the years, the films that belonged to the 3 categories were being shown outside the CCP. This year. this year’s entries for the above categories are being shown at different Ayala Cinemas all over Metro Manila in limited run screenings. Still, CCP is the place to be at for Cinemalaya, especially since the ANI films are exclusively screened there.
That being said, if ever you plan to watch a Cinemalaya film in the CCP, it is best to plan in advance, as soon as the festival passes are released. These festival passes would give you the privilege to watch a number of films a day or throughout the whole festival itself. The other option is to buy tickets for the individual screening. One has to be really early as tickets tend to be sold out quickly.
Even if you won’t catch a film there, it is nice to visit CCP during the festival as the venue comes alive with so much things to see there. Or perhaps an encounter with a director or an actor/actress in one of the corridors.
Cinemalaya has come a long way since it first began and it cannot be overlooked how much it has helped define Philippine cinema today. But, at the same time, if it is intent on continuing its advocacy for Philippine cinema, it has to sort out the issues at hand if it is serious in helping Philippine cinema. More on to that later.
As with most film festivals, the highlight of Cinemalaya would always be the awards ceremony, giving due to the efforts of the filmmakers and artists who have made exceptional efforts in the films they were in. That being said, my congratulations to the winners of CinemalayaX:
It was unfortunate that controversy arose which has marred what would have been an eventful Cinemalaya this year. I won’t dwell on this issue much; I will leave both sides to sort this thing out. I just hope that whatever will be outcome would be something that all sides will be able to benefit from: the filmmakers who have toiled hard for their films and are having difficulties in trying to make their works available, and the audience who want to see them but are unable to. After all, it is for the welfare of Philippine cinema after all. There has to be a better way, without all the unnecessary stuff that is detrimental to what should be a noble endeavor.
On a personal note, this is actually my first Cinemalaya experience ever, in the sense that I’ve gotten to check out the festival at the CCP and watch a film during the festival period itself. My previous exposure to Cinemalaya has been limited only to readings and watching some films after the festival proper like Pisay, Ang Nawawala, Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Oliveros, Kamera Obskura, Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank, and Busong.
I only managed to watch one film entry for this first Cinemalaya experience of mine, but I’m glad it won a couple of awards. So my congratulations to Robert Arevalo and Cris Villonco for their performances in Hari ng Tondo!