INDEPENDENT filmmaking takes on new heights when the 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival opens on July 26 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Pasay City.
On Thursday, a press conference held at the CCP’s main lobby officially launched this year’s edition of Cinemalaya, dubbed “Cinesthesia: Synergy of the Senses.”
For 2013, the country’s most-awaited and respected film festival showcases new breed, second generation and veteran directors, as well as undiscovered talents and mainstream movie actors.
A total of 25 new indie films will be shown until August 4 under the categories New Breed, Directors Showcase and Short Feature.
According to Cinemalaya competition chairman Laurice Guillen, the continuous recognition of Filipino film artists, especially those from the mainstream industry, only proves that Cinemalaya is growing.
“It is a sign that Cinemalaya is achieving its goals of infusing new blood to the industry in terms of new directors, new stories, new approaches to filmmaking. And you see, it’s not just the mainstream stars who are coming in. Our Cinemalaya films are also being exhibited by mainstream distributors. Medyo maganda na ang palitan,” Guillen shared with The Manila Times in an interview.
In previous years, more and more mainstream actors have graced independent, low-budget films. Thankfully, the same phenomenon can be said for Cinemalaya.
This year, no less than award-winning actress Vilma Santos stars in Ekstra. Directed by Jeffrey Jeturian, the film curiously portrays the veteran actress as a TV and film “extra” dreaming to have her share of fortune and fame.
Gretchen Barretto also returns to the big screen with an indie film called The Diplomat Hotel directed by Christopher Ad. Castillo.
Cinemalaya regulars Eugene Domingo and Alessandra de Rossi are once again in the fray for Best Actress, with the former starring in Leo Abaya’s Instant Mommy and the latter in Gil Portes’ Liars.
Anita Linda, the favorite muse of indie film directors, is in Nuwebe by Joseph Israel Laban and David F by Emmanuel Palo.
Young actors Jake Cuenca (Nuwebe) and Paulo Avelino (Sana Dati and Debosyon) star in separate films.
Finally, Cinemalaya welcomes TV darling Jasmine Curtis Smith in her first independent film starrer, Transit by Hanna Espia.
Avenue for the youth
For almost a decade, Cinemalaya has provided hopeful and promising filmmakers the opportunity to showcase their works at the New Breed category. And now that filmmaking technology continues to advance, it is more important for Cinemalaya to encourage young filmmakers.
Guillen explained, “Ngayon, dahil sa camera [madali na ang paggawa ng pelikula], pati telepono puwede nang magamit. So bata pa lang, alam na nila ang medium. Hindi katulad noong panahon ko. Hindi digital. Kung hindi ka na-hire na director, hindi ka talaga mabibigyan ng pagkakataon. Ngayon, they [the filmmakers]are getting younger and younger.”
The veteran actress and director then said that this year, the youngest director is only 21. He is Mikhail Red, the son of award-winning director Raymond Red, and directs Rekorder.
Red is also joined by other second-generation breed of directors including Christopher Ad. Castillo, son of the late Celso Ad. Castillo, and Paolo O’Hara, nephew of the late Mario O’Hara.
Guillen noted that Cinemalaya also guides the new breed of directors in filmmaking. She said, “It’s always a challenge to be able to mentor, select and monitor new filmmakers to finish their films up to the Cinemalaya standards.”