Only short films competing in Cinemalaya fest this Aug.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the eight full-length films set to compete in this year’s Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival will join the 10 other finalists in the 2021 edition to be screened on Vimeo, Cinemalaya president Laurice Guillen announced on Wednesday.
In effect, this year’s festival, to be held from Aug. 7 to 16, will only feature short films in competition.
“Like everything else on this planet, COVID-19 has impacted on filmmaking in a way that it has restructured our original plans, timetable and style of work. Cinemalaya is no exception,” Guillen told the media during a virtual press conference that was also attended by Cinemalaya officials Chris Millado, festival director; Jose Javier Reyes, main competition and monitoring chair; and Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso, president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) (festival coproducer).
“This means that the finalists in the full-length category have put their projects on hold until they find a way to shoot their films safely and within their budget during the time of the pandemic,” Guillen pointed out.
The eight finalists are: Emmanuel Q. Palo’s “Ang Halimaw,” Rainerio Yamson II’s “Angkas,” Real Florido’s “Bakit Di Mo Sabihin” (Tell Her), Sheenly Gener’s “Bula Sa Langit,” TM Malones’ “Kargo,” Joris Fernandez and Paolo Valconcha’s “Kathoey,” Brilliant Juan’s “Parole” and David Corpuz’ “Seperate/Separate.” Out of 244 entries submitted, 10 short films were selected and will vie for the Best Film award this year. These are: Janina Gacosta and Cheska Marfori’s “Ang Gasgas Na Plaka Ni Lolo Bert” (The Broken Vinyl Record), Joanna Vasquez Arong’s “Ang Pagpakalma Sa Unos” (To Calm the Pig Inside), Sonny Calvento’s “Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss,” James Robin Mayo’s “Fatigued,” Martika Ramirez Escobar’s “Living Things,” Hubert Tibi’s “Pabasa Kan Pasyon,” Reeden Fajardo’s “Quing Lalam Ning Aldo” (Under the Sun), Jan Andrei Cobey’s “The Slums,” Carla Pulido Ocampo’s “Tokwifi,” and Richard Salvadico and Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay’s “Utwas” (Arise). Apart from the guidelines of shooting in the new normal, Guillen said there was also the problem of shooting within the budget of the filmmakers. “This doesn’t mean it’s impossible and they’re given enough time for that—this is the thing that all filmmakers right now are thinking of doing,” she stressed. “It’s a very encouraging thing when you know that certain countries haven’t stopped making films despite the pandemic. It’s just a matter of adapting new systems to do it.”
For Reyes, shooting films is indeed a problem, “no doubt about it… You eventually have to go beyond it and see the fact there is a solution to every problem. You adapt; don’t give up. Find news ways of doing things. That’s where you are challenged not only creatively, but also managerially as a director.”
Millado pointed out: “Still, there’s nothing like the experience of sitting together in a darkened theater, experiencing together, anticipating together, with much excitement, the stories that our artists have prepared,” he said. “Laughing and, sometimes, shedding tears together, and at the end of it, meeting each other at the lobby (of the CCP) and sharing the whole excitement of the stories that we just experienced.”
“While this online platform is essential during this situation, we see this not as a temporary thing, but, maybe, something that we could actually do in the future—when we get back to our actual venues,” Millado declared. “It has always been in the plans of Cinemalaya to move online. The situation has only speeded up the migration, although we hope to make this an enhancement to the live screenings at the CCP and in other venues.”
To access the films on mobile devices and at home, simply activate the Cinemalaya channel, choose the title you like, read its synopsis, and then proceed to rent (bundle with other films) or subscribe (avail of one-time rate).
Going online“We will try to make it as seamless and easy as possible for everyone,” Millado assured.“The finalists are by no means the only people who are in this boat. All productions worldwide are on hold, with a few exceptions like South Korea, which continues to produce a steady content for the world,” Guillen noted.
“Its steady contact with the world is largely online. What does this mean for us? First, that content is a prime commodity. Most definitely, it means that we should continue to make films now more than ever,” she pointed out.
Secondly, Guillen said the present setback should be considered as a time to study what “future content … specifically, Philippine film content,” will be. She continued: “Will the filmmakers need to contextualize their subject matter to the time of this imposed but necessary quarantine? Will this be the new need trend for future films to come?
“Thirdly, as filmmakers, how have we grown in consciousness from this present crisis? What is our perception of the world around us, both physically and virtually? Cinemalaya will be looking forward to these films this time next year.”
For more updates, visit the CCP and Cinemalaya websites; and follow the official CCP and Cinemalaya social media accounts.
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