Diverse genres converge in CineFilipino | Inquirer Entertainment

Diverse genres converge in CineFilipino

/ 12:50 AM August 22, 2017

Fest execs Guido Zaballero (left, seated), Madonna Tarrayo (second from right, seated) and Jose Javier Reyes (right, seated) and the finalists

Film festivals perform a crucial role in the industry, says Madonna Tarrayo, Unitel president and festival director of CineFilipino. A festival not only gives filmmakers a chance to “showcase” their creativity; it also allows producers to spot promising talents from among the finalists, she points out.

Tarrayo will never tire of repeating that CineFilipino’s brightest discovery is Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, who topped the fest’s inaugural edition in 2013 with “Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita.” Four years later, Bernardo is credited for directing this season’s biggest sleeper hit, “Kita Kita.”


Competition head Jose Javier Reyes predicts that there will be a slew of “Kita Kita” copycats as a result of its unexpected box-office windfall. “But great filmmakers don’t follow the latest fashion; they start trends,” he quips.


CineFilipino, which is teaming up with Cignal TV, aims to build up another hitmaker among the eight filmmakers chosen to headline its next edition, set in March 2018. “We hope CineFilipino will become a platform that permits new talents to flourish,” states Guido Zaballero, first vice president of Cignal TV.

The finalists in CineFilipino 2018 are: Therese Cayaba’s “Delia and Sammy”; Rod Marmol’s “Mata Tapang”; Roni Benaid’s “Poon”; Ronald Batallones’ “Excuse Me Po”; Alec Figuracion’s “The Eternity Between Seconds”; Bor Ocampo’s “Hitboy”; Dwein Baltazar’s “Kahit Man Lamang Kung Maaari”; and Alpha Habon’s “Mga Mister ni Rosario.”

Filipino viewers can look forward to different themes and diverse genres next year, Benaid remarks. “There’s drama, action, comedy and horror.”

Benaid’s entry, “Poon,” is a good old-fashioned scream fest involving a cursed imahen. “When I was young, I loved watching thrillers,” Benaid recalls. “I got scared, but I also wanted to know how they were made.”

Habon, for his part, wants to excel as a comedy director, with “Mga Mister ni Rosario,” a peek into the marriage of a schizophrenic method actor and his confused wife. “My advocacy has always been making comedy films that have depth.”

Habon feels it is only appropriate for him to mark his directorial debut in CineFilipino. “I made my debut as a writer in this festival, with ‘Ang Turkey Man ay Pabo Rin,’ in 2013. Last year, another film that I wrote, ‘Star na si Van Damme Stallone,’ was part of this fest, too.”


Joining this year’s event is a “homecoming” for Ocampo, as well. In 2013, he joined with the short film, “Mabuhay ang Pilipinas,” and last year, he fielded another short, “Digpa ning alti.”

This time, however, Ocampo has a full-length action film, “Hitboy,” in the offing. He explains that his story is particularly relevant these days because it follows the exploits of a young assassin. “In the end, we want to emphasize the value of human life and reiterate that ‘crime does not pay,’” Ocampo exclaims.

“Mata Tapang,” another action-packed flick with a supernatural twist, is offered by Marmol. Inspite of its magical-realist tone, Marmol’s film is quite personal. “It is my way to understand my father, who was a soldier who had lost his eye in the field (like the film’s titular hero).”

Marmol’s goal is to zoom in on the struggles of an ordinary warrior who embarks on a journey of self-discovery. “These days, people look at things in black and white.” Marmol’s protagonist, however, discovers the shades of gray after losing his 20/20 vision.

Figuracion admits that, like the characters in his entry, “The Eternity Between Seconds,” he is “also in transition.” This antilove story between an unlikely couple completely unfolds in a South Korean airport, where people are just passing by, en route to other places.

Battalones insists that he wants to inspire with “Excuse Me Po,” the story of an elderly con artist with dreams of stardom. “I hope to encourage people not to stop pursuing their dreams.” Batallones’ own dream is rather modest, though. “I just wish CineFilipino would be a critical and commercial success.”

Two female filmmakers made it to the roster, presenting romance stories that go against the grain.

“I just wanted to tell a different kind of love story … one that happens toward the end of a relationship,” Cayaba says of “Delia and Sammy.”  For a change of pace, this romantic story is not centered on teenagers, but on cantankerous, sickly senior citizens who go on a road trip. “It’s about flawed, real people.”

Lastly, Baltazar considers “Kahit Man Lamang Kung Maaari” a disturbing tale of men obsessed with the same ideal girl, as a “labor of love.” “I went through a lot of heartbreaks in writing this story.”

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In a way, Baltazar’s script can also be read as a love letter to the audience. “It was as if I was pregnant with this child for six years. I thought no one else wanted to see my baby. My hope is for this movie to find its audience. And I wish it would also be loved by viewers as much as I did, if not more.”

TAGS: CineFilipino, Entertainment, news

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