I remember cutting classes for Cinemalaya. Not the best way to start a piece about the esteemed film festival, but these films offered so much more than some of my classes. There was the year of seeing my world with Ang Nawawala (2012), the unexplainable feeling of hearing Up Dharma Down’s Indak in Sana Dati (2013), the hugs I gave to crying strangers watching Mariquina (2014) and Bwaya (2014)… the list goes on. I’ve always consumed film as a means of escaping the world. Being in Cinemalaya always made me feel whole.
Year after year, films in the festival promise to deliver the best of visual storytelling– and this year’s Cinemalaya is no exception.
Since 2005, the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival has supported 136 full feature independent films and 118 short films, such as Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank (2011), Transit (2013), and Respeto (2017), among others. Year after year, films in the festival promise to deliver the best of visual storytelling– and this year’s Cinemalaya is no exception.
Alongside the ten full length films, Cinemalaya will also feature 10 short films in competition. These are Babylon (Keith Deligero), Jodilerks dela Cruz, Employee of the Month (Carlo Francisco Manata), Kiko (Jojo Driz), Logro (Kani Villaflor), Nangungupahan (Glenn Barit), Sa Saiyang Isla (Christian Candelaria), Si Astri Maka Si Tambulah (Xeph Suarez), Yakap (Mika Fabella and Rafael Froilan), and You, Me and Mr Wiggles (Jav Velasco). Personally, watching Shorts has always been a Cinemalaya highlight — five shorts for one ticket!
From young love to martial law, here are the films we’re excited to see in Cinemalaya 14.
Directed by Perci Intalan
What happens when you go back to your past? In Distance, Liza (Iza Calzado) returns to the Philippines after losing the love of her life. She goes back to her family, one that she left five years prior, at her estranged husband’s invitation.
Prediction: Seems like the husband still likes his ex-wife, so it’s looking like a story of unconditional love and how it knows no time nor space. Also, how do you even begin picking up the pieces of something you broke? I think I need a beer.
Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon (Waiting for the Sunset)
Directed by Carlo Enciso Catu
Lovers in their twilight years Teresa (Perla Bautista) and Celso (Dante Rivero) receive a phone call from Teresa’s ex-husband Benedicto (Dante Rivero), who asks them for forgiveness and help for his last days.
Prediction: I will cry, just like how I cried watching Tanging Yaman (2000). The premise reminds me of 1st Ko Si 3rd (2014), but flipped.
Directed by James Mayo
No, this isn’t a new money transfer commercial. But the movie does take place in a remittance center where Kuya Wes (Ogie Alcasid) works and falls in love with his regular client Erika (Ina Raymundo), a woman with marriage woes. Kuya Wes ultimately tries to balance his “relationship” and family life. A break from the usual heavy fare of Cinemalaya, the film does lead us to ask: given the choice, will it be family or love?
Prediction: This will be a happy, feel-good film. Kuya Wes seems to be a character that works hard and deserves that movie happy ending. Although why am I hoping there’s an Ogie Alcasid song somewhere in the film? *cue Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang*
Directed by Kip Oebanda
“Pagkat ako’y nababalisa, kung ‘di ka kapiling.” sings Day (Glaiza De Castro), holding back her tears as we slowly realize she’s in prison singing to her son in the adjacent cell. Using stories and music, she keeps her son away from the terrors of martial law — the very reason they’re in prison. This is based off the true story of Kumander Liway, an NPA commander who fought the Marcos dictatorship in the hinterlands of Negros.
Prediction: I hope this film serves as a fuel for those still on the fence about the country’s political issues. This film could very well be the courage people need to fight for what we deserve: a government that values its country and its people.
Directed by Denise O’Hara
Refusing to be senile, Mamang (Celeste Legaspi) struggles to live with her unmarried middle-aged son Ferdie (Ketchup Eusebio). Mamang is then haunted by her past life and she subsequently starts to relive it. It seems that the movie will end with her choosing between a life she lived or the life she’s currently living. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d choose either.
Prediction: Her son realizes that it might be better for her to relive her best memories. Son will convince Mom to let go. Also, I will cry. I cry easily watching films, sorry not sorry.
Directed by Benedict Mique Jr
Learning more about the Marcos dictatorship is always a good thing, unless it’s from someone responsible for its terrors. A group of students unwittingly ask one of the dictatorship’s oppressors (Eddie Garcia) and gets more than what they asked for: a night where they relive the horrors of martial law. Based on the trailer, ML seems set to make you feel what felt most back then: anxious, scared, and shaken to the core.
Prediction: In a perfect world, Eddie Garcia’s character will pay for the human rights violations he did in the past (and the present, seemingly with these kids). And if that does serve as the film’s ending, that’s how it should be in real life too.
Musmos na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma
Directed by Iar Lionel Arondaing
Caught in a war between their peoples, two young Muslims find comfort and love amidst the chaos in Mindanao. More than being what seems to be a coming of age film, we hope it sheds light on how it is being in a war-torn community. To borrow from Mexican human rights activist and poet Cesar Cruz, art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.
Prediction: As it echoes the star-crossed lovers formula, it will not end well for the young couple. I don’t know. I’ve always been pessimistic about people falling in love fast. Why, you ask? That’s for another piece.
Pan de Salawal
Directed by Che Espiritu
A plethora of characters reside in a community beside the Manila railroad: a barber who gets hand spasms, a paralyzed folk dancer, a meat vendor who has a tumor, and Sal (Bodjie Pascua), a lonely panadero with a kidney condition who wants nothing else but death. In comes Aguy (Miel Espinosa), a 10 year-old who can heal through hurting the people physically. Think of Himala’s Elsa, but with a kid’s violent edge.
Prediction: I read somewhere Aguy can’t heal Sal unless she hurts him really, really bad. So for that reason, I will probably cry. Again. For those keeping score, this is the third film in Cinemalaya 2018 that I will cry in. Also: Aguy is a guardian angel who’s looking out for Sal… oh wait, that’s the plot for May Bukas Pa.
Directed by Louie Ignacio
Walking home from school, Maya (Celine Juan) obliges when a woman in a school service asks her for directions. Maya gets offered a lift home in return but home turns out to be a new one miles away. A case of child abduction, she’s forced to live a life of a beggar for a crime syndicate.
Prediction: Her parents will find her, but then it’ll be too late. Maya is home, yes, but not without the trauma. The crime syndicate will still continue. Sadly, even in reality, the probability of this ending is quite high.
Directed by Afi Africa
An abusive childhood leads Lester Quiambao to be a hired killer. What’s his fuel? Waiting for the moment to exact his revenge. Lester seemingly won’t stop his revenge for anything, even if it means betraying the man he loves.
Prediction: The teaser trailer leaves much to be desired, as well as the plot. I’m sure the performances will be stellar, though. Also, cheers for representation! But I really hope this isn’t a case of queerbaiting.
Cinemalaya 14: Wings Of Vision runs from August 03-12, 2018 at various venues of CCP and select Ayala Cinemas. For more information about Cinemalaya, visit www.cinemalaya.org, www.culturalcenter.gov.ph, and the Cinemalaya Facebook page or CCP Media Arts at telephone number 832-1125 local 1704 & 1712 and the CCP Box Office at 832-3704.