CineFilipino is back, now an annual fest | Inquirer Entertainment

CineFilipino is back, now an annual fest

/ 12:35 AM February 10, 2017

angel aquino therese malvar

Angel Aquino (left) and Therese Malvar in “Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita”

For its third edition, the CineFilipino Film Festival returns this year—instead of the original plan which is in 2018 as a biennial event.

The first CineFilipino was held in 2013, followed by the second batch last year. The third CineFilipino, however, was launched recently and the fest is now accepting entries in three categories: features, shorts (for students and nonstudents) and digital (webisodes, social media videos).


Does this mean that the fest is now officially an annual event?


“That’s what we aim for,” festival director Madonna Tarrayo told the Inquirer. “The fest is growing bigger and becoming better every year.”

Tarrayo heads Unitel Productions, which spearheads the fest with Cignal TV (a subscription-based Pay-TV service provider).

The partnership with Cignal TV can lead to brighter prospects, she said. Cignal TV has 1.5 million subscribers. “One of Cignal TV’s plans is to come up with a channel for CineFilipino and other independently produced films,” she noted.

Something like the SundanceTV in the United States.

For the past two editions, the fest has built quite a catalogue of films—including the maiden year’s success story, Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s “Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita” which participated in 30 film festivals abroad and yielded one of the local scene’s most promising talents—Therese Malvar, who eventually won best actress at the A-list Moscow fest last year (for the Cinema One film, Ralston Jover’s “Hamog”).

“Our goal has always been to discover fresh cinematic voices,” said filmmaker Jose Javier Reyes who is the fest’s head of competition. “We need young and new artists—directors, actors, scriptwriters—for the industry to keep growing.”


The fest aims to produce “creative and audience-friendly films for today’s viewers.”

“Audience-friendly” is the key term, Reyes and Tarrayo agreed. Reyes pointed out, “What is a film if it doesn’t connect with an audience. We don’t distinguish between mainstream and indie. These are all Filipino films.”

“We believe that each film has its own audience,” Tarrayo asserted.

The festival’s goal is to help these “new voices” reach out to their intended audience.

Reyes quipped: “We believe that a film has to click with a Filipino audience first; international recognition is just an embellishment.”

The second CineFilipino fest produced locally and internationally acclaimed films like Lemuel Lorca’s “Ned’s Project” (best film), Ice Idanan’s “Sakaling Hindi Makarating” (best director) and Randolph Longjas’ “Star na si Van Damme Stallone” (third best film).

Another 2016 entry, Dexter Hemedez and Allan Ibañez’s “1st Sem,” won best feature film in the debuting directors section and lead actress Lotlot de Leon earned a special acting citation at the All Lights India International Film Festival in Hyderabad, India, last September.

For the 2017 fest, the announcement of the finalists for the feature films will be made in April, while the entries for the shorts and digital sections will be revealed in late August.

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The festival will be held in November. Interested filmmakers can check out the fest’s website ( for details on the mechanics.

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