Cinemalaya, on its eighth year, is undoubtedly considered the Philippines' biggest and most prestigious film festival for independent cinema. This bold, if not brave statement, stems from the fact that Cinemalaya films have won, even dominated, both local film awards and international festivals last year.
Proof: Loy Arcena’s Niño won Best Film at the Busan International Film Festival, Korea. It also earned for Shamaine Centenera the Best Supporting Actress trophy in the Asian Film Festival in Hong Kong and Best Supporting Actor for Art Acuña in the Gawad Urian.
Marlon Rivera's Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank won for actress Eugene Domingo the People's Choice Awards for Best Actress in the Asian Film festival in Hong Kong, as well as being cited in several other film festivals.
Alvin Yapan's Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa swept the seven major Gawad Urian awards including Best Picture, Best Actor for Paulo Avelino and Best Director for Yapan.
Eduardo Roy's Bahay Bata won a Special Citation at the Vancouver International Film Festival and Best First Time Director at the Las Palmas Film Festival and Best Actress (Diana Zubiri) from the Young Critics Circle.
Cuchera and Amok won awards in international film festivals as well.
A number of Cinemalaya films have earned various nominations and victories from the Entertainment Press Society's Golden Screen Awards, Gawad Urian and Young Critics Circle.
Cinemalaya is an all-digital film festival that aims to discover, encourage and honor cinematic works of Filipino film makers that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity.
"This year's Cinemalaya takes the impetus from these achievements and goes full force with this year's programming," says festival director Chris Millado. "After eight years of producing and presenting excellent and engaging films, the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is the leader among indie film festivals and has inspired the creation of other festivals that encourage the new voices, new ways of telling stories."
"It has left an indelible mark in the landscape of Philippine Cinema and continues to do so year after year," Millado carries on. "Cinemalaya is unstoppable. It has taken wing and with your continued support moves full force into the future."
"This year's Cinemalaya will feature a special retrospective on Mario O'Hara's work as an actor, screenwriter and director," reveals the festival director. "We will be screening Tubog sa Ginto, Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang, wherein Mr. O' Hara was an actor; Insiang, Tatlo Dalawa Isa, which he wrote; and Babae sa Breakwater, which he directed. These films will be part of the exhibition program."
He further announces: "Our Cinemalaya Documentaries this year include the Tribeca Film Festival awardee Marty Syjuco's Give Up Tomorrow — a riveting documentary following the celebrated case of the Chiong sisters and the Larannaga family. Lyca Benitez Brown's Dance of My Life, and J. Abello's Pureza.
"Early indies will include the screening of the early films of Raymond Red (newly digitized super eight films), Kidlat Tahimik, Bibsy Carballo and Roxlee."
Millado further adds, "There will also be a special conference, Film, Animation and Gaming Conference with Ralph Guggenheim of Pixar Studios, who produced the blockbuster hit Toy Story. This will be done in cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry."
Fifteen full length features and 10 new shorts are participating in this year's festival.
Competing in the new breed category: Aparisyon by Vincent Sandoval, Ang Katiwala by Aloy Adlawan, Ang Nawawala by Marietta Jamora, Mga Day by Julius Sotomayor Cena, Diablo by Mes de Guzman, Intoy Siyokoy ng Kalye Marino by Lemuel Lorca, Oros by Paul Sta. Ana, REquime! by Loy Arcenas, Santa Niña by Emmanuel Quindo Palo and The Animals by Gino Santos.
In the Director's Showcase, these films are directed by established, mainstream directors. The selection includes Bwakaw by Jun Lana, Kalayaan by Adolfo Alix Jr., Mga Mumunting Lihim by Jose Javier Reyes, Posas by Lawrence Fajardo and Kamera Obskura by Raymond Red.
The short films in competition: Ang Paghihintay sa Bulong by Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, As He Sleeps by Sheron Dayoc, Balintuna by Emmanuel Escalano Jr., Bohe Sons of the Waves by Nadjoua Bansil, Manenaya by Richard Legaspi, Pasahero by Mario Celada, Ruweda by Hannah Espia, Sarong Aldaw by Marianito Dio Jr., Ulian by Chuckn Gutierrez and Victor by Jarell Serencio.
Aside from all these films, there will be an exhibit of Movie Advertisements from the 1940s from Danny Dolor's collection.
Cinemalaya is a project of the Cinemalaya Foundation, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Film Development Council of the Philippines and Econolink Investments Inc.
It will run from July 20 to 29 at the CCP and July 21-29 at the Greenbelt and Trinoma cinema houses.
For more information, please call CCP Film Office (832-1125 locals 1704/05) and CCP Box Office (832-3704) or visit www.cinemalaya.org and www.culturalcenter.gov.ph.