Nine days of indie movies

by Nickie Wang

THE Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is set to explode in various venues of the Cultural Center of The Philippines as the sixth edition of the annual festival opens its doors from July 9 to 18 featuring a total of 24 independent films in competition.

Nine digital films will compete in the Full Length section, and ten films will compete for the Short Film categories. A new addition to the festival aims to attract more audience featuring five of the prominent names in filmmaking. Established directors like Mario O’ Hara, Mark Meily, Joselito Altarejos, Joel Lamangan, and Gil Portes will add luster to the festival through a new category called Directors Showcase.

“Modestly aside, Cinemalaya has accomplished a lot since its inception in 2004. This year, excluding the film entries, we are featuring 55 full-length films and 56 shorts,” says festival director Nestor Jardin.

He adds that one of the significant efforts of The Cinemalaya Foundation is its success on bridging the gap between independently-produced films and mainstream movies.

“The new category we added in the festival called Directors Showcase bridges the gap which used to be a gray line in film production,” he affirms.

For the awarding ceremony, the Best Full Length Feature film will receive a prize of P200,000, and the Best Short Film will walk home with P100,000. On the other hand, the best film in the Directors Showcase will also receive a P300,000 prize and the iconic Balanghai trophy.

The world is watching

Over the years the festival has grown in popularity, and today attracts film enthusiasts from different walks of life. The last year’s edition dubbed Cinemalaya Cinco attracted 38,000 people. It is about 10,000 more audience compared to the number of attendees in 2008. The Cinemalaya Foundation is positive that the annual indie film fest will attract more audience.

“We are targeting 50,000 audiences this year alone. Will be bringing the festival to the University of the Philippines the next day of the festival and hopefully to Robinson’s Galleria,” Jardin announces

To strengthen its mission, the foundation launches the 6th Cinemalaya ad campaign, which carries the tagline, The World will be Watching. The campaign also honors the previous Cinemalaya entries and winners that brought home numerous awards from different film festival across the globe like 100, Engkwentro, and Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, to name a few.

New breed of filmmakers

As an all-digital competitive film festival, Cinemalaya has been discovering, encouraging and honoring the cinematic works filmmakers that boldly articulate and freely interpret Filipino fresh insight and artistic integrity.

Supporting the growth of this industry, each year the Econolink Investments, Inc., grants P500,00 to each full-length feature category finalist.

The finalists that received an initial seed investment for film production this year are: Halaw by Sheron Dayoc, Limbunan by Gutierrez Mangansakan II, Mayohan by Dan Villegas and Paul Sta. Ana, Magkakapatid by Kim Homer C. Garcia, Sampaguita by Francis Xavier Pasion, Sheika by Arnel Mardoquio, Si Techie, Si Teknoboy at si JuanaB by Art Katipunan, and Vox Populi by Dennis N. Marasigan.

According to first-time feature film director Danny Añonuevo, who directed the Full Length finalist Rekrut that stars Dominic Roco, Manuel Chua, Joem Bascon, and Alwyn Uytingco, the initial production grant is practically not sufficient to come up with a good quality film.

“Apart from the budget given to us, we also had to solicit money from our friends and other people that we know to finish the entire project. With Rekrut for example, we needed more than twice of the amount given to us. It’s not that easy to compensate the actors and the people who work behind the film because we all know that they are doing indie film for the love of entertaining the audience,” says the director of the military-inspired film.

Most actors also had to waive their talent fees for the sake of the projects they are part of. To paraphrase the words of Gil Portes, whose film Two Funerals encountered numerous situations before it finally finishes production, “Cinemalaya is a venue where we can freely express our artistic side, and we are able to make films that no mainstream production outfit would allow us to make. Thus, it’s worth the trials and the hardships (and the meager budget).”

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