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Cinemalaya 2022 welcomes back 11 full-length features

/ 12:30 AM July 11, 2022
Competition director Jose Javier Reyes (seventh from left) with finalists in the short film category. STORY: Cinemalaya 2022 welcomes back 11 full-length features

Competition director Jose Javier Reyes (seventh from left) with finalists in the short film category: (from left) Ma. Estela Paiso, Zig Dulay, Alemberg Ang, Xeph Suarez, Gabriela Serrano, Nena Jane Achacoso, Dexter Paul de Jesus, Raz de la Torre, Claudia Fernando and Maria Kydylee Torato.

Come 2023, the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival will be featuring a category for documentary films, Chris Millado, its festival director, announced on Wednesday.

In fact, this year’s edition of the Cinemalaya will screen two documentaries as closing films, “to signal that the festival will open a new category next year,” Millado said during a media gathering on Wednesday at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), which is the venue of the most celebrated annual local indie fete.

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The 2022 Cinemalaya, which carries the theme “Breaking Through the Noise,” will run from Aug. 5 to 14

Karl Malakunas’ “Delikado,” a hard-hitting film on the illegal logging activities in Palawan, will be screened back-to-back Stefanos Tai’s “We Don’t Dance for Nothing,” which is a nontraditional film about overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong who find themselves in the tumult of the pro-democracy rallies that happened there before the pandemic.

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The festival’s opening film will be Martina Ramirez Escobar’s psychological comedy-drama film “Leonor Will Never Die.” It stars Sheila Francisco as a retired screenwriter, who, after falling into a coma, finds herself the action hero of her unfinished screenplay. The film, which premiered at the World Dramatic Cinema Competition section of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival in January, has been making the rounds of festivals abroad ever since.

Cultural guardians

“Cinemalaya began in 2005, a time when the film industry was experiencing some kind of a doldrum. Eighteen years later, we find ourselves in a more intense and deadly situation after coming in and out of lockdowns. What’s good is that we’re all back here. We see ourselves not only as survivors, but as cultural guardians,” Millado began.

Chris Millado, festival director. STORY: Cinemalaya 2022 welcomes back 11 full-length features

Chris Millado, festival director

“We’ve heard so much noise in the form of stories published on social media, of revised histories uploaded on different platforms, of disinformation and misinformation. We cut through these noises through the voices of our filmmakers. We’re so happy they’re back on the big screen, not only at the CCP, but in most commercial cinemas nationwide. Shortly after that, they will be in selected campus and community screenings; and then much later, around October, online. This batch will be the most distributed in all of the Cinemalaya finalists so far,” Millado declared.

After a two-year wait as a result of the series of lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cinemalaya will finally have a full-length feature category, with 11 finalists.

“These are our survivors,” declared Jose Javier Reyes, competition director and head of the monitoring committee.

“They are my idols because, despite all the odds of mounting their films because of the pandemic, they did it. From 20 films, only 11 survived. They are the product of persistence and real passion for what they’re doing. I am amazed by these young filmmakers,” Reyes added.

Entries

This edition’s full-length feature films are the following: TM Malones’ “Kargo,” Christian Paolo Lat’s “Ginhawa,” Ma-an Asuncion-Dagñalan’s “Blue Room,” Ronald Batallones’ “Batsoy,” Anna Isabelle Matutina’s “12 Weeks;”

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Cynthia Cruz-Paz and Milo Alto Paz’s “Retirada,” Real Florido’s “Bakit ‘Di Mo Sabihin?” Rain Yamson II’s “Angkas,” Roman Perez Jr.’s “Kaluskos,” Sheenly Gener’s “Bula sa Langit,” and Carlo Obispo’s “The Baseball Player.”

Meanwhile, here are the short film finalists in alphabetical order: Maria Estela Paiso’s “Ampangabagat Nin Talakba Ha Likol (It’s Raining Frogs Outside),” Zig Dulay’s “Black Rainbow,” Xeph Suarez’s “City of Flowers,” Gabriela Serrano’s “Dikit,” Dexter Paul de Jesus’ “Distance,” Nena Jane Achacoso’s “Duwa-Duwa;”

Reyes (fifth from left) with the finalists in the full-length film category: (from left) Carlo Obispo, Milo and Cynthia Paz, TM Malones, Roman Perez Jr., Christian Paolo Lat, Ma-an Asuncion-Dagñalan, Sheenly Gener, Anna Isabelle Matutina, Real Florido and Ronald Batallones.

Reyes (fifth from left) with the finalists in the full-length film category: (from left) Carlo Obispo, Milo and Cynthia Paz, TM Malones, Roman Perez Jr., Christian Paolo Lat, Ma-an Asuncion-Dagñalan, Sheenly Gener, Anna Isabelle Matutina, Real Florido and Ronald Batallones.

Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay and Ricard Jeroui Salvadico’s “Mga Handum nga Nasulat sa Barras (The Dreams That are Written in the Sand),” Niño Maldecir and Cyphor John Gayorgor’s “Mata Kang Busay (Vision of the Falls),” Raz dela Torre’s “Kwits,” Claudia Fernando’s “Roundtrip to Happiness,” Mark Moneda’s “See You, George!,” and Maria Kydylee Torato’s “Si Oddie.”

Classes

In a video message, Cinemalaya Foundation Inc. president Laurice Guillen reported what the Cinemalaya Institute—the foundation’s training arm—has been up to in the last two years when the festival opted to forego physical screenings because of the pandemic.

The institute offered classes facilitated by Ricky Lee (scriptwriting), Jose Javier Reyes (directing), John Paul Su (production management) and Jay Abello (assistant directing). A film lab was likewise organized, “to firm up the semifinalists and help them get ready to shoot their films,” said Guillen.

The book “Riding the Waves: 15 years of Cinemalaya,” edited by Clodualdo del Mundo Jr., was also released in 2021, as well as the Cinemalaya YouTube channel, which now has over 7,000 subscribers.

Asked how organizers will ensure an audience for the featured films now that Cinemalaya has resumed physical screenings, Reyes said: “Well, Cinemalaya already has a captive audience that we hope will be excited to go. Unfortunately, we still have to practice social distancing, so only 80 percent of the venues will be filled. Incidentally, some areas of the CCP are being renovated, so we will not be able to use a number of cinemas, but the good thing is that we’re back here.”

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