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Cinemalaya Comes to Naga and Legazpi

Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is a pioneering film concourse or festival of independent films. And, it is coming to Naga for the first time and, Legaspi City for the second time.

The festival is a project of the Cinemalaya Foundation, a non-stock, not-for-profit, non-government foundation, committed to the development and promotion of Philippine Independent film.

In its website, the Cinemalaya Foundation is described as “established for the following purposes: to help develop and support the production of cinematic works of Filipino independent filmmakers that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity; to discover, encourage, support, train and recognize gifted Filipino independent filmmakers; to promote Filipino independent films locally and internationally; and to establish a network for exchange, communication, and cooperation among members of the independent film sector.”

At the core of this program is the film competition, which begins with a competitive grant. Out of the many applicants, ten finalists are selected. From these finalists and winners, many filmmakers have gone on to fame and celebrity. Some names are Jerrold Tarog (who directed “Heneral Luna”), Lawrence Fajardo, Aureaus Solito, the late Francis Pasion, Mike Sandejas, and Jay Altarejos, the pride of San Fernando, Ticao Island whose film “Kasal” was 2014 Cinemalaya Grand winner. Women directors like Hanna Espia, Rica Arevalo, Tara Illenbarger and Veronica Velasco are some of the Cinemalaya alumnae.

New voices in cinema were alumni winners in Cinemalaya, like Sheron Dayoc, Lawrence Fajardo, Treb Monteras, Carlo Enciso Catu, and Petersen Vargas, to name a few.

Outstanding films, which introduced the “indie” feel to the audience, came out of competitions in Cinemalaya. To name some of them: “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros,” “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” “Respeto,” and “Pamilya Ordinaryo.”

For the 2015th edition, Cinemalaya is extending the festivals to three regions: Davao, Western Visayas, and Bikol. To make an even more compelling presence in the said areas, Cinemalaya is sponsoring a 1-minute Short Shorts Film Competition. A what? You heard it, a film that would run for 60 seconds.

What can one say in one minute? A lot really if one thinks of the camera as the eyes, and cinema as the vision, working under the mind and arms (and heart) of a filmmaker.

Is it easy to make a short short film that would last a minute? There are varied responses to this seemingly facile question.

As the designated Regional Manager for the 15th Cinemalaya Campus program, which will undertake the Short Shorts Film Competition, I learn a lot from the responses from the student filmmakers. One tells me it is the easiest thing to do. A Senior High class of budding cineastes poses this great query: what can one include in a minute. A teacher wants to clarify something: can we use many characters, like ten actors? I tell her, no problem. I, of course – and this I tell her – do not know what you will do with ten human beings within a frame of sixty seconds. A common problem is whether they could do away with dialogues. There are no fast answers to these fast questions.

When the results are announced on the 16th of July, then we will find out what young Bikolano filmmakers can express with words or without words, with images or even with no images (believe me, a film can be blank although I hope no one takes his cue from this view of mine), when they are given the gift of a minute. Outside the short films, there are ten competing films. The subject matters are varied and not the usual themes tackled by mainstream cinema. For us Bikolanos, it might interest us to know that one entry was shot in Catanduanes, directed and produced by artists from that island-province. My source of information is Marc Felix, a graduate of Ateneo de Naga and a homegrown talent. He is part of the cast of this film, “Ani, which is a Main Competition Finalist.

Set in 2050 Federal State of Bicol, the synopsis states: “A newly orphaned boy moves to a farm to live with his estranged grandfather. When Mauricio falls ill and as the crops in their farm seem to fall ill with him, Mithi embarks on a quest with his malfunctioning robot to search for magical grains that he believes will save the old man’s life.”

There are many things going for the film, one of which is the idea that its narrative incorporates science-fiction in the story and crisis of an agrarian society. “Ani” is directed by Kim Zuñiga and Sandro del Rosario. My wish: that the film will have its Bikol premiere in Naga when Cinemalaya opens in Vista Mall on August 7. Cinemalaya will have a film workshop on July 22, 2019, from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. The participants will come from schools with entries to the Short Shorts Film Competition. Depending on the space, film students and cineastes will be accommodated. To be held in Vista Cinema 4, the workshop will be conducted by Raymond Red, a multi-awarded pioneering independent filmmaker with no less than a recognition from the Cannes Film Festival. The workshop will be for free. The film festival itself will run from Aug. 7 to 13, 2019.

ANi (The Harvest) by Kim Zuñiga and Sandro Del Rosario Belle Douleur (Beautiful Pain) by Joji V. Alonso Children of the River by Maricel Cariaga Edward by Thop Nazareno Fuccbois by Eduardo Roy, Jr. Iska by Theodore Boborol John Denver Trending by Arden Rod Condez Malamaya (The Color of Ash) by Danica Sta. Lucia and Leilani Chavez Pandanggo sa Hukay by Shéryl Rose Andes Tabon by Xian Lim #Cinemalaya2019

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