Slated from August 7 to 15, the 11th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival will be quite different for 2015 as it will only showcase original short films in competition. There will be no entries featured for the usual main categories of Director’s Showcase and New Breed.
Not one to underestimate the significance of shorts in the movie industry, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is confident nonetheless that Cinemalaya 2015 will continue to excite Filipino film enthusiasts and the general audience as it has in previous years.
Thus, it is with pride that the CCP—led by artistic director Chris Millado with Cinemalaya president Laurice Guillen—officially presents the 10 competing short films with their respective directors.
These are Apasol (Chasing Sun) by Ryanne Murcia, Gatilyo Ng Baril by Glenmark Doromal and Eero Yves Francisco, Kyel by Arvin “Kadiboy” Belarmino, Nenok by Rommel “Milo” Tolentino, and Sanctissima by Kenneth Dagatan for Group A; and Lisyun qng Geografia (Geography Lessons) by Petersen Vargas, Mater by Annemikami Pablo, Papetir by Darwin Novicio, Pusong Bato (Stone Heart) by Martika Ramirez Escobar, and Wawa by Anj Macalanda.
“Short filmmaking has a long history. When there wasn’t digital technology yet, short filmmakers pioneered what we know now as independent filmmaking,” said Millado. “We do recognize that short filmmaking is a genre with its own structural storytelling, which also needs to be showcased and appreciated.”
It will be remembered that the CCP had clarified with The Manila Times in June that the absence of full-length features in Cinemalaya this year actually aims to give filmmakers enough time, resources and guidance to finish their entries for 2016. Moreover, the cultural institution also explained that both the Director’s Cut and New Breed categories have been replaced with a single Open category.
For veteran short filmmaker Milo Tolentino, who returns to Cinemalaya for the seventh time this year, short filmmaking is a different perspective altogether. “I was here during the very first year [of Cinemalaya]and I am very happy to be here once again. I think this is the best time for me to be [joining]the short film competition,” he enthused before talking about his latest work, Nenok.
Nenok tells the story of a nine-year-old child who finds home in Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan. There, he spreads mischief and annoys the parish’s stern groundkeeper, Mang Johnny.
Asked by The Manila Times what he thinks about the short filmmaking scene in the Philippines, Tolentino said, “I think it will be appreciated by the Filipino audiences; however, the problem is that short films cannot be shown commercially. That’s why we bring them to festivals like this or to schools.”
But venue or no venue, audience or no audience, Tolentino noted that what really matters for him is the continuous creation of short films in order to tell a story and send a message.
Tolentino is a multi-awarded short filmmaker boasting of trophies from the Philippines’ Gawad Urian, the world-renowned Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival, and South Korea’s Busan International Film Festival. On top of these, he also holds the most number of awards from Cinemalya short film competition including Best Director (2011 and 2010), Best Screenplay (2008) and Best Film (2006, 2008, and 2010).
On the other hand, Martika Ramirez Escobar is a newbie in Cinemalaya. In a separate interview with The Manila Times, she shared that short filmmaking is a very good training ground for young and aspiring directors who are still developing skills and gathering resources for full-length productions.
It is where you will discover your sensibilities as a filmmaker. “Basta gawa ka lang ng gawa, hanggang sa matutunan mo,” she enthused.
Her entry, Pusong Bato, will premiere in the Philippines through Cinemalaya after internationally showing at the Cannes Film Festival in May and the Busan Film Festival in October 2014. It is about Cinte Dela Cruz, a middle-aged woman who dreams of her glorious days as a movie star in the 1970s. One day, an earthquake struck leaving a stone inside her room. “She will fall in love with this stone [thus the film’s title],” revealed Escobar.
In addition to the competition proper, Cinemalaya 2015 will also offer new sections that will showcase the best of the best foreign and independent films.
On top of the list is the “The Independents: Asia” section. Millado related that it will open with Zhang Yimou’s acclaimed Coming Home with Chinese superstar Gong Li in the lead role.
Other films to be shown include The Ferry by Shi Wei, The Night of Silence by Reis Celik, Poet on a Business Trip by Ju Anqi, Summer Kyoto by Hiroshi Toda, Six Feet High by Sanalkumar Sashidaran, The Move by Marat Saruklu, The Monk by The Maw Naing, The Owners by Adikhana Yerzhanov, The Last Reel by Sotho Kulikar, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya by Isao Takahata.
There is also the “Indie Nation” section, which will premiere new independent films; and “Cinemalaya Retrospective,” which will feature the winning films of the festival’s various categories from 2005 to 2014.
Moreover, the “Cinemalaya Documentaries” section will screen such titles like Sayaw by Cecilia Asuncion, and My Revolutionary Mother by Jethro Patalinghug, to name a few.
Old and new
The Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video—which is considered the longest-running independent film competition of its kind in the Asia—will be an added feature in this year’s Cinemalaya Festival. It will be held on August 8, 9 and 11 at the CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde.
Also returning to the festival this year is the Cinemalaya Forum from August 11 and 12 at the CCP Little Theater, and the Cinemalaya 2015 Exhibit at the Bulwagang Carlos V. Francisco (Little Theater Lobby). The forum aims to gather honest and genuine critiques of indie films from different sectors of the public, while the exhibit will feature posters and memorabilia from the films selected for the competition.
The closing ceremonies will also be exciting as the shortlist of films in competition for 2016.
With such a packed calendar of activities, Millado concluded, “Cinemalaya 2015 is not scaled down, and definitely, not the least interesting festival year.”
Cinemalaya 2015 will run simultaneously at CCP and Greenbelt 3 Cinemas in Makati City. For more information, contact CCP Film Office at 832-1125 local 1704-1705 and CCP Box Office at 832-3704. Visit www.cinemalaya.org or www.culturalcenter.gov.ph.