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‘Breaking through the noise’

THE 2022 CINEMALAYA Independent Film Festival returns with onsite screenings of full-length and short feature films competing for the Balanghai Award and cash prizes.

The 18th edition, which carries the theme “Cinemalaya: Breaking Through the Noise,” will feature 11 full-length films and 12 short features from August 5 to 14.

“One of the saddest things to happen in the festival, which had no options other than going online, was the absence of the new full-length competition films. But now, the good news is, two years later, we have the finished films meant for showing in 2021 and 2022,” Laurice Guillen, president of Cinemalaya Foundation, Inc., said in a video shown at a press conference at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on July 6.

The full-length films in this year’s competition were the finalists selected for the 2020 and 2021 editions of the film festival. However, pandemic restrictions delayed film production.

In his speech, Chris B. Millado, former CCP vice president and artistic director and Cinemalaya festival director, referred to filmmakers as culture-bearers “cutting through noise” (referencing the film festival’s theme) of social media, revised histories, misinformation and disinformation, personal anxieties, and international goings-on.

“How do we cut through these [stories] … — the genuinely discreet, unique voices of our filmmakers and artists who collaborated in this year’s batch of Cinemalaya,” Mr. Millado said.

The 11 full-length films in this year’s film festival are:

• 12 Weeks by Anna Isabelle Matutina, about a 40-year-old woman who finds out she is pregnant a few weeks after ending a romantic relationship;

• Angkas by Rain Yamson, about two estranged friends rebuilding their relationship while traveling together to retrieve the body of a deceased friend;

• Bakit ’Di Mo Sabihin? by Real S. Florido, about a deaf couple struggling to keep their marriage;

• Batsoy by Ronald Espinosa Batallones, about two young siblings in a fantastical adventure to satiate their craving for batsoy;

• Blue Room by Ma-an L. Asuncion-Dagńalan, about young musicians who get arrested for possession of illegal drugs;

• Bula Sa Langit by Sheenly Gener, about a soldier who comes home from a siege and finds himself faced with a different battle;

• Ginhawa by Christian Paolo Lat, about an aspiring boxer who gets exposed to the sport’s grim reality while in training;

• Kaluskos by Roman S. Perez, Jr. about a single mother fighting for her child’s custody;

• Kargo by TM Malones, about a woman who seeks revenge from the man who killed her family;

• Retirada by Milo Alto Paz and Cynthia Cruz-Paz, about a retired government employee whose new hobby leads her to desperation and financial problems; and

• The Baseball Player by Carlo Obispo, about a Moro child soldier who dreams of becoming a baseball player in the midst of war.

The 12 short films, meanwhile, were praised by director Jose Javier Reyes, main competition and monitoring chair of the Cinemalaya: “This year was an exceptional batch which only proved that nitong pandemiya [ay] nahasa at na-develop (the pandemic trained and developed) theart of short filmmaking. … For the first time, the entire archipelago is represented by these short films.”

“This also opens an impetus that we should really encourage and develop our regional filmmakers because they are as Filipino as Filipino can get,” he added, noting that only two films were shot in the National Capital Region (NCR). 

The short films in the main competition are:

• Ampangabagat nin Talakba ha Likol (It’s Raining Frogs Outside) by Maria Estela Paiso;

• Black Rainbow by Zig Dulay;

• City of Flowers by Xeph Suarez;

• Dikit by Gabriela Serrano;

• Distance by Dexter Paul de Jesus;

• Duwa-Duwa by Nena Jana Achacoso;

• Kwits by Raz de la Torre;

• Mata Kang Busay by Nińo B. Maldecir and Cypher John T. Gayorgor;

• Mga Handum nga Nasulat sa Baras (The Dreams that are Written in the Sand) by Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay and Richard Jeroui Salvadico;

• See You, George! by Mark Moneda;

• Si Oddie by Maria Kydylee Torato; and

• Roundtrip to Happiness by Claudia Fernando.

The competing films will be screened in CCP venues from Aug. 5 to 14; in partner cinemas from Aug. 10 to 17; in regional theaters from Aug. 22 to 29; and online via the CCP’s Vimeo account from Oct. 17 to 31.

OTHER ACTIVITIESThe film festival will open on Aug. 5 with the 2022 Sundance Film Festival Jury Prize Winner Leonor Will Never Die written and directed by Martika Ramirez Escobar. Starring Sheila P. Francisco, the film follows a retired screenwriter who falls in a coma and finds herself as the protagonist of her unfinished screenplay.

The film festival will close with two documentaries: Karl Malakunas’s Delikado about illegal logging in Palawan; and Stafanos Tai’s We Don’t Dance for Nothing about the lives of overseas Filipino workers during the protests in Hong Kong.

One of the film festival’s major components is the Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video which gathers the best films which will compete in categories such as Short Feature/Narrative, Experimental, Documentary and Animation. Finalists from the different categories will be screened from Aug. 6 to 8 at the CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde and will be awarded on Aug. 13.

Meanwhile, the Cinemalaya Awards Night for the main full-length films will be held on Aug. 14 at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).

According to Mr. Millado, the film festival will open a new category for documentaries in 2023.

Since 2005, Cinemalaya has supported and promoted the production of Filipino full feature independent films and short films. Various films have won awards in local and international competitions and festivals. Cinemalaya has since showcased over 1,000 works by independent filmmakers.

For the past two years, the independent film festival held online screenings of competing short features and exhibition films. Last year, it sold 3,800 online tickets (worth P800,000) during its four-week run. 

For more information, visit the CCP and Cinemalaya websites and social media pages. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

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