The Sinag Maynila Festival has less stellar lineup this year but CEO and Founder Wilson Tieng and internationally acclaimed film director Brillante Ma Mendoza assert that the films handpicked for the filmfest’s third edition are more diverse and story-driven .
The local film festival also carries the new tagline “Sine Lokal, Pang-lnternasyonal,” which according to Tieng is reason why they had to upgrade their mechanics. The goal of the film event is not just to provide a venue for filmmakers to showcase their work but also to help them get international exposure.
“The upgraded mechanics for this season may have been a risky move, but we are very happy with the outcome. We are looking forward to the reception of these films here and of course, internationally,” Tieng told the press at a recent media launch.
Unlike the previous editions, only a few names are can easily be recognized. Probably, Jason Orfalas’s Ladyfish, which stars JC Santos and Martin Escudero, will have the easiest recall because of the familiar names headlining the indie production.
In the directing front, Joel Lamangan leads the finalists this year in terms of seniority and experience. He returns to the film fest scene with Bhoy Intsik top billed by RS Francisco, Ronwaldo Martin, Elora Españo, Jim Pebanco, Tony Mabesa, and Jeric Raval.
The film is a story of two small-time felons who crossed paths, starting a petty mutual disdain for a competitor in their illegal business.
“This is not a gay film, it so happens that one of the characters is gay and the other one is an attractive young man. Their relationship toward the end of the film is more of a relationship between a father and son,” Lamangan explained.
Taking their chance in getting a nod to be part of the competing roster as it has been closely associated with the opportunity for international recognition, are: HF Yambao’s Kristo, Ricardo Carranza’s Beyond the Block, and Arnel Barbarona’s Tu Pug Imatuy (The Right to Kill).
In addition to the full-length entries, the organizers also announced the finalists for the short film and documentary categories. The five short film finalists are Matthew Victor Pastor’s I Am Jupiter, I Am the Biggest Planet, Emmanuel Escalona Jr.’s Ang Langit, Burger at ang Universe, Karl Glenn Barit’s Aliens Ata, Jose Maria Javier Manoos’s Ang Hindi Ko Masambit, and Paul Arrenze Dionela’s Tulay Buhay.
For the documentary section, the entries are Avelino Mark Balmes Jr.’s Hango, Jaynus Olaivar’s Kupkop, Noah del Rosario’s The Recycled Spirits of Roel Cabato, Jean Clare Dy and Manuel Domes’ Pagrara Sang Patipuron (Weaving a Circle), and Mirielle de Lara, Angelica Domingo, Dannieleth Julapong, Maria Agnes Malvar, Bea San Juan, and Nathaniel Santiago’s Krudo Boys.
“We know the limitation of indies. So, we don’t focus on what the films will earn during their theatrical run. There are so many platforms that we can exploit to showcase these films. All these films are story-driven as we put a high premium on the script,” Tieng said regarding this year’s lineup.
Furthermore, he said that as early as now, major networks have shown interest in having Sinag Maynila titles to be part of their programming.
“I don’t know if this could be measured by box office or income, but what we are doing here is we are creating awareness. We wanted to introduce our local talents to the world,” Tieng affirmed.
The film fest will be shown in select SM Cinemas, including Glorietta and Gateway cinemas, from March 9 to 14. The awards night is on March 12.