On its eighth installment, the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival bore a bold title that was not only an effective come-on but also an apt description of the over-all quality of this year’s batch of well-received films, the efforts that went into the various productions, and even the event’s general audience, which had undoubtedly grown, filling theaters and selling out tickets in all three venues from July 20 to 29.
From the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) to Greenbelt 3 to Trinoma, it was evident that even the strong rains of the wet season, which usually dampened interest in the festival, was no match for Cinemalaya 8: Full Force.
This year, the event featured 31 films, with 25 as entries in competition and the others in special screenings. Competition films were grouped into the usual Cinemalaya categories: Directors Showcase, New Breed and Short Films.
Veterans and youngbloods
Directors Showcase includes films of seasoned filmmakers who have made at least three films. Among the entries were “Bwakaw” by Jun Robles Lana; “Kalayaan” (Wildlife) by Adolfo Alix Jr.; “Kamera Obskura” by Raymond Red; “Mga Mumunting Lihim” (Those Little Secrets) by Jose Javier Reyes; and “Posas” (Shackled) by Lawrence Fajardo.
New Breed showcases the works of the up-and-coming directors of Philippine independent cinema. Included in this year’s roster were “Aparisyon” by Vincent Sandoval; “Ang Katiwala” (The Caretaker) by Aloy Adlawan; “Ang Nawawala” by Marie Jamora; “Mga Dayo” (Resident Aliens) by Julius Sotomayor Cena; “Diablo” by Mes de Guzman; “Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino” by Lemuel C. Lorca; “Oros” by Paul Sta. Ana; “Requieme!” by Loy Arcenas; “Sta. Niña” by Emmanuel Quindo Palo; and “The Animals” by Gino M. Santos.
Ten short films were divided into two subgroups: Shorts A and Shorts B. Under Shorts A were “As He Sleeps” by Sheron Dayoc; “Balintuna” (Irony) by Emmanuel Escalona Jr.; “Bohe Sons of the Waves” by Nadjoua Bansil; “Pasahero” (Passenger) by Mario “Max” Celada; and “Victor” by Jarell M. Serencio.
Shorts B included “Ang Paghihintay sa Bulong” (Waiting to Whisper) by Sigrid Andrea P. Bernando; “Manenaya” (Waiting) by Richard Legaspi; “Ruweda” (Wheel) by Hannah Espia; “Sarong Aldaw” (One Day) by Marianito Dio Jr.; and “Ulian” (Senility) by Chuck Gutierrez.
As one of the clinchers of Cinemalaya 2012, full-length movies included prominent stars in the industry. This time, more mainstream and TV actors shared the screen with indie-film thespians, which is a promising development for Philippine cinema in general.
Special screenings of retrospective films were also held as tributes to the King of Comedy, Rodolfo Vera Quizon (Dolphy) and prominent director, screenwriter, and actor Mario O’Hara, whose cult movie “Babae sa Breakwater” officially opened the festival. Both cinema greats passed away this year.
Other works shown were CCP’s Ani 2011 Gawad winners in the categories of Animation, Experimental and Documentary, and selected full-length and short films also from Ani.
The exhibition also included the Best of Cinemalaya 2011; Cinemalaya Documentaries; Special Screenings; and Retro films in different genres such as Experimental, Documentary, Animation and Short Film Narrative.
Supplementing the festival’s program were forums such as the Film Animation and Gaming Congress; the 2012 Manila Film Financing Forum; and this year’s Cinemalaya Congress, which explored the theme “Indie and Mainstream: Friends, Enemies, or Allies?” through panel sessions joined by experts and professionals in the field.
Visual exhibits “Alitaptap Kikilap-Kilap” and “Portraits by Wig Tysmans” were also on display throughout the event in CCP.
The former was a collection of movie advertisements in print that showcased films released from 1936 to 1941, which was considered the first Golden Age of Philippine cinema. The latter was a compilation of the portraits of this year’s competing directors who were able to bring in a little bit of everything to the table.
With Cinemalaya 8 an obvious success, all eyes will definitely be peeled to see if next year’s Philippine Independent Film Festival can take even its “Full Force” to the next level.