CINEMALAYA Independent Film Festival officially broke the surface of the Cebuano market Tuesday night as it opened for the first time outside Metro Manila—at Ayala Center Cebu.
The 12th Cinemalaya, which carries the theme “Break the Surface,” is ongoing until Sunday. It has a total of 19 entries for both full-length feature and short feature categories.
Famed director Laurice Guillen graced the opening ceremony.
“The purpose of Cinemalaya is to discover and nurture the work of Filipino workers. The reason why it’s held for the first time in Cebu is to invite more Cebuanos to participate in the film fest,” said Guillen.
Chris Melado, Cultural Center of the Philippines vice president, said Cebu is an appropriate venue for the film fest as it was the center of filmmaking in the 1950s for Visayan language films.
Students, still in their uniforms, and movie enthusiasts lined up at the Cinema 5 to watch the opening films Dagsin and Lando at Bugoy. The films were screened for free. Tickets for the regular screening of film fest movies are at P150 each.
Ricky Ballesteros, executive director of the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI), was glad that Cinemalaya has finally reached the province considering that many talented filmmakers are based in Cebu like Remton Zuasola and Ara Chawdhury.
Both Zuasola and Chawdhury have previously won in the Sinulog Film Festival and have both showcased their films in Cinemalaya.
SFI, along with Ayala Center Cebu, is a partner of Cinemalaya.
“For years, judges of the Sinulog Film Festival have always come from Cinemalaya. So it’s a (seamless) partnership,” said Ballesteros.
“The festival will hopefully develop Cebuano filmmaking. And we already know that we have some of the best filmmakers in Cebu,” added Ballesteros.
The first film showcased, Dagsin, was born out of the love between director Atom Magadia and wife Anne, who co-wrote the screenplay with Atom.
“Dagsin is born out of love. We have two children and I consider this our third child,” said Anne. And the movie showcases that love. It’s about a wheelchair-bound retired judge (Tommy Abuel) trying to die and live every day without his wife (Marita Zobel), who died from cancer just days earlier.
Their adopted daughter Mercy (Lotlot de Leon) finds the wife’s diaries and through those, the judge relives their happy and trying days—from courtship to World War II to Martial Law and eventually to cancer.
De Leon shared that Dagsin is her third indie film for the year.
“The difference between commercial and indie is that with independent films, we don’t sugar-coat the stories. We show the reality of life,” she told the full-packed cinema just before the showing.
The second film showcased was Lando at Bugoy, a story about a high school dropout father, Lando (Allen Dizon), who is often disrespected by his son, Bugoy (Gold Azeron). Lando goes back to school hoping to get some respect from Bugoy, but it only made his son hate him more. The dramedy is directed by Vic Acedillo Jr.
Dagsin and Lando at Bugoy are competing against the following films for the full-length feature film category: Ang Bagong Pamilya Ni Ponching by Inna Miren Salazar and Dos Ocampo; Hiblang Abo by Ralston Jover; I America by Ivan Andrew Payawal; Kusina by David Corpuz and Cenon Palomares; Mercury Is Mine by Jason Paul Laxamana; Pamilya Ordinaryo by Eduardo Roy Jr. and Tuos by Derick Cabrido.
The 10 films competing in the short feature category are: Ang Hapon Ni Nanding (Nanding’s Afternoons) by Rommel Tolentino; Ang Maangas, Ang Marikit at Ang Makata by Jose Ibarra Guballa; Bugtaw by Noah Del Rosario; Butas by Richard Cawed; Fish Out of Water by Mon A.L. Garilao; Forever Natin by Cyrus Valdez; Get Certified by Isaias Herrera Zantua; Mansyong Papel by Ogos Aznar; Nakauwi Na by John Relano, Patrick Baleros and Luis Hidalgo; Pektus by Isabel Quesada.
Cinemalaya was established in 2005. It’s an all-digital film festival and competition with the aim of discovering, encouraging and honoring cinematic works of Filipino filmmakers.