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Iza Calzado

JUDY Ann Santos

Judy Ann Santos, Coco Martin, Eddie Garcia, and Thai actor Ananda Everingham are among the celebrities who are lending their star power to the controversial Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival this year.

The festival, marred by the disqualification of finalist “MNL 143” and the resignation of its director, Nes Jardin, will run from July 20 to 29 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Among the five finalists in the Directors’ Showcase category, Jose Javier Reyes’ “Mga Mumunting Lihim” has the biggest number of mainstream actors in its cast, which includes Santos, Janice de Belen, Agot Isidro, and Iza Calzado. The film is about the struggles of a group of childhood friends.

Everingham, best known for the 2004 film “Shutter,” will star in Adolf Alix Jr.’s “Kalayaan,” about the lonely lives of soldiers in the Spratly Islands. It also features Pinoy hunks Zanjoe Marudo, Luis Alandy and Rocky Salumbides.

The multiawarded Garcia stars in “Bwakaw,” a story of a 75-year-old man who has almost given up on life until he forms an unlikely friendship with a stray dog. Also in the cast are Armida Siguion-Reyna, Rez Cortez, Soxy Topacio and Gardo Verzosa.

JOEL Torre

Lawrence Fajardo’s “Posas,” a commentary on crime and justice in the country, features ABS-CBN talents Bangs Garcia and Nico Antonio. Also playing important roles are John Lapus, Art Acuna, Wendy Valdez and CJ Ramos in this film coproduced by Quantum Films.

Raymond Red’s “Kamera Obskura” boasts the father-son tandem of Pen and Ping Medina, as well as veteran actor Joel Torre. Red described the film as “a fictitious Filipino black-and-white silent expressionist film supposedly found recently by our film archivists and historians.”

Despite the controversies it has encountered, the New Breed category, which is open to filmmakers who have not yet directed more than three full-length features, will still have ten finalists this year.

COCO Martin

Martin, a sought-after indie actor, is back via Emmanuel Palo’s “Santa Nina.” He stars with the award-winning Alessandra de Rossi in this black comedy about an overseas Filipino worker who kills a famous fashion designer. Supporting them are Angel Aquino, Anita Linda and Irma Adlawan.

ZANJOE Marudo

Renowned opera singer Fides Cuyugan-Asencio leads the cast of Vincent Sandoval and Darlene Malimas’ “Aparisyon.” The film, according to Sandoval “is about contemplative nuns who must grapple with an act of violence in the months leading to the declaration of Martial Law.” It also features Jodi Sta. Maria, Mylene Dizon, Raquel Villavicencio and Rustica Carpio.

Last year’s Cinemalaya best supporting actress (Directors’ Showcase) winner Shamaine Buencamino top-bills Loy Arcenas’ “Requieme”—about “a transvestite, three deaths, two wakes, a funeral and a provincial town of gossipers eager to claim relations with a notorious TNT murderer.” Rex Cortez, Paul Jake Paule, Anthony Falcon and 30 more actors appear in cameo roles.

Iza Calzado

The production team behind “Lola Igna” is reportedly negotiating to have GMA 7’s top actor Aljur Abrenica on board. The Eduardo Roy Jr. film is about a woman who has premonitions of her death and comes up with a list of instructions on how to go about her wake and the days leading to it.

Actors Kristoffer King and Kristoffer Martin will be the stars of Paul Sta. Ana’s “Oros.” It is a story about people who find the means to survive by exploiting the dead.

Other New Breed finalists are “Dayo” (Alien) by Julius Sotomayor Cena; “Diablo” by Mes de Guzman; “Ang Katiwala” (The Caretaker), by Aloy Adlawan; “The Animals” by Gino Santos; and “Ang Nawawala” (What Isn’t There) by Marietta “Marie” Jamora.

EDDIE Garcia

This year’s entries will also be shown in theaters at Greenbelt in Makati and Trinoma in Quezon City. Cinemalaya is a project of the Cinemalaya Foundation, the CCP, Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and Econolink Investments Inc.

E-mail mcruz@inquirer.com.ph

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