Film foundation gives birth to ‘Cinemalaya Institute’ on 11th year
After the highly successful 10th year of the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival in 2014, the Cinemalaya Foundation enters a new phase in Philippine cinema for its next outing.
This 2015, the independent Philippine film festival will only showcase 10 short films in competition unlike previous years, where on top of the shorts, 10 full-length feature films by new directors and five by veteran ones are featured.
While this may seem like a setback to the country’s longest running and premier indie film festival, the Cinemalaya Foundation maintains it is actually gearing up for a better competition in 2016.
One solid proof that the foundation—which is under the auspices of the Cultural Center Philippines (CCP)—is ever committed to its mission of “giving a voice” to young and new filmmakers is the establishment of the Cinemalaya Institute for its 11th run.
On Thursday, the foundation’s executives together with representatives from the CCP and other private institutions like De La Salle-College of St. Benilde and GMA Network officially inked a partnership to pursue this endeavor at the CCP.
“It feels like we’re one year old again because of this new project. And just like toddlers, we are also very happy and excited at this new beginning,” expressed CCP Artistic Director and Cinemalaya Festival Director Chris Millado in his opening remarks.
For foundation president and veteran director Laurice Guillen, the Cinemalaya Institute is their “new baby.” Its goal, according to the Philippine Film Industry stalwart, is to train and prepare young film visionaries in different aspects of filmmaking even before they join Cinemalaya or other film festivals as well.
Guillen further explained why Cinemalaya had to combine both the New Breed and Director’s Showcase categories for the 2016 festival. She related that when the festival started in 2005, it only showcased 10 feature films from new filmmakers. Five years later, the Director’s Showcase category was added, and the original category was converted into the New Breed section.
“We added one Director’s Showcase for five veteran directors who are already active in mainstream [scene]but also want to find their voice in independent films. It had a very enthusiastic response, and was very successful on its first year,” she recalled.
However, after five years of running the Director’s Showcase in 2014, the Cinemalaya Foundation realized that they only had about two or three veteran directors who would join the category.
“Not that they no longer want to join the festival, but we’ve already exhausted all of them. So half of the five were really veterans and the half were New Breed directors who graduated and entered mainstream,” noted Guillen. “Clearly a change was coming.”
True enough, at the next strategic planning of Cinemalaya’s stakeholders led by chairman of the board Tonyboy Cojuangco, the foundation opted to mount an “open category” instead that will welcome both promising and established filmmakers.
Nevertheless, Guillen assured fairness in the selection of directors because decisions will continue to be based “on the material and not the name of the filmmaker.”
So far, Cinemalaya is in the process of short-listing the 10 feature films for 2016’s festival, which will be announced on the awards night this year. The finalists will receive a production grant of P750,000.
According to Guillen, this change in the timetables is a positive thing for the filmmakers who will be chosen because they will be given one full year to create their film on top of benefiting from the full guidance of Cinemalaya.
Besides the Open Category, the strategic planning that followed the 2014 festival also resulted to the creation of the Cinemalaya Institute.
Cojuangco recalled, “We were encouraged by the fact that Cinemalaya’s initiatives have resulted to the [creation]of other film festivals in the country—even up to four or five festivals in a year. What I noticed though was that some of the films produced didn’t have the basic fundamentals or knowledge of filmmaking.”
Thus, to address this concern, the board decided to establish the Cinemalaya Institute to provide education, training and accreditation of practitioners in key aspects of film production.
Two partners from the private sector immediately came on board namely, the College of St. Benilde and GMA Network who were respectively represented at the MOA signing by CSB Chancellor Bro. Dennis Magbanua, FSC, and GMA senior vice president for entertainment TV Lilybeth Rasonable.
CSB is now the site of the New Media, School of Arts and Design, with GMA responsible for showcase projects produced by the institute on its digital platform.
Also present at the event were Cinemalaya Institute director Carlos Siguion-Reyna and fellow faculty members John Paul Su and Sophia Wellington. Both Su and Wellington are recognized internationally for their work in the Philippine movie industry.
The first semester has officially opened with classes Introduction to Producing (June 1 to 25) by Su, Fundamentals of Screenwriting (June 9 to July 3) by Wellington, and Basic Filmmaking: The Silent Film (June 22 to July 31) by Siguion-Reyna.
The Cinemalaya Institute will further offer courses in Cinematography, Editing and Sound for the second semester from October to November 2015; and Production Design, Musical Score and Acting for the third semester from March to April 2016.
For more information, visit www.cinemalaya.org and www.culturalcenter.gov.ph.