New independent filmfest opens at SM Cinemas | Inquirer Lifestyle
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New independent filmfest opens at SM Cinemas

Sinag Maynila, the country’s newest independent film festival, showcases quality and thought-provoking movies from young, non-mainstream Filipino filmmakers from March 18-24 at selected SM Cinemas.

These include designated theaters at SM Megamall, SM North Edsa, SM Manila, SM Fairview, SM Southmall, SM Mall of Asia and SM Aura Premier, where the red carpet opening ceremonies will be held.

Conceptualized and spearheaded by CEO and founder Wilson Tieng, together with world-renowned and internationally acclaimed film director Brillante Mendoza as festival director, Sinag Maynila gives grants to independent filmmakers so they can develop their individual material into full- length films for public exhibition.

As a festival that seeks to inspire, educate, and enlighten the viewing public, Sinag Maynila will feature films that reflect Filipino culture, while presenting social issues deserving of discussion among audiences here and abroad.

For the inaugural year of Sinag Maynila, both Tieng and Mendoza personally handpicked five of the country’s reputable independent filmmakers with whom they collaborated in producing this year’s selection of definitive films.

“We don’t want just to produce films,” says Mendoza. “We want to produce good films. Gusto naming panoorin ninyo hindi lang isa kundi lahat ng limang pelikula.”

For Tieng, the festival “does not only up the ante. Working with Brillante Mendoza, we hope to give our homegrown filmmakers the chance to tell the stories of Filipinos in the most compelling visual narrative possible.”

This early, Tieng commends the five feature films “for showing great promise of high recognition not just locally, but in international film festivals, as well.”

The lineup

 “Balut Country,” a film by Paul Sta. Ana (“Oros”), follows the journey of Jun, an heir to the duck farm left to him by his late father. He must decide whether to sell the property to secure his future, or spare the land’s loyal caretakers inevitable displacement. Rocco Nacino, Ronnie Quizon, Angela Cortez, Nanette Inventor and Vincent Magbanua star lead the cast.

“Bambanti,” a film by Zig Dulay (“Huling Halik,” “M”), questions the prejudice of the rich toward the poor when a son of a house helper is suspected of having stolen the employer’s gold watch. It stars Alessandra de Rossi, Micko Laurente, Julio Diaz, Shamaine Buencamino  and Lui Manansala.

“Imbisibol,” a film by Lawrence Fajardo (“Amok,” “Posas”), follows the lives of four Filipino migrant workers in Japan who, amid their individual struggles, are suddenly caught together in an even more complex game of hide and seek where staying invisible is the only way to survive. Allen Dizon, Bernardo Bernardo, Ces Quesada  and JM de Guzman topbill this film.

“Ninja Party,” a film by Jim Libiran (“Suntok sa Buwan,” “Happyland,” “Tribu”) is a coming-of-age story of two teenage students in an elite school who find themselves in a compromising situation when they get involved in secret debauchery. The cast includes Annicka Dolonius, Julz Savard, Bea Galvez, Odette Khan, Teresa Loyzaga, and Denise Marasigan.

“Swap,” a film by Remton Zuasola (“To Siomai Love,” “Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria,” “Soap Opera”) takes us to the internal conflict of a young father, torn between solving a crime and committing another crime, when one day his only son is kidnapped and the criminals demand that he steal another kid in exchange for his son’s life. Publio Briones, Ramon Bagatsing, Jesus Mendoza, and Genica Ines Mijares star in this film.

The Sinag Maynila Awards Night will be held on March 21,  at Sky Park of SM Aura Premier. The festival will be recognizing excellence in film, direction, performance, screenplay, cinematography and production design.

Sinag Maynila is a partnership between Solar Entertainment and Centerstage Productions, with support from SM Cinema and SM Aura Premier, and the Film Development Council of the Philippines.