WINNERS: Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival 2018

Here are the winners of Cinemalaya 2018:

Best Film (Full-length): KUNG PAANO HINIHINTAY ANG DAPITHAPON by Carlo Catu

Best Film (Short Feature): JODILERKS DELA CRUZ, EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH by Carlo Francisco Manatad

Special Jury Award (Full-length): Pan De Salawal by Che Espiritu

Special Jury Award (Short Feature): SI ASTRI MAKA SI TAMBULAH by Xeph Suarez

Special Jury Commendation: LIWAY by Kip Oebanda

Special Jury Award for Acting: KENKEN NUYAD for Liway and School Service, MIEL ESPINOSA for Pan De Salawal, and JM Salvado for Musmos na Sumibol Sa Gubat ng Digma and Pan De Salawal

NETPAC Jury Award (Full-length): KUNG PAANO HINIHINTAY ANG DAPITHAPON by Carlo Catu

NETPAC Jury Award (Short Feature): SA SAIYANG ISLA by Christian Candelaria

Best Actor (Full-length): EDDIE GARCIA for ML

Best Actress (Full-length): AI-AI DELAS ALAS for School Service

Best Supporting Actor (Full-length): KETCHUP EUSEBIO for Mamang

Best Supporting Actress (Full-length): THERESE MALVAR for Distance and School Service

Best Director (Full-length): CHE ESPIRITU for Pan De Salawal

Best Director (Short Feature): XEPH SUAREZ for Si Astri Maka Si Tambulah

Best Screenplay (Full-length): JOHN CARLO PACALA for Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon

Best Screenplay (Short-Feature): SA SAIYANG ISLA by Christian Candelaria

Best Cinematography (Full-length): NEIL DAZA for Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon

Best Editing (Full-length): Mikael Pestano for ML

Best Production Design (Full-length): MARIELLE HIZON for Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon

Best Original Music Score (Full-length): LEN CALVO for Pan De Salawal

Best Sound (Full-length): WILDSOUND for Musmos na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma

Audience Choice Award (Full-length): LIWAY by Kip Oebanda

Audience Choice Award (Short): KIKO by Jojo Driz

MOVIE REVIEWS: Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival 2018 (Part 2)

Here’s the second part of our festival report on Cinemalaya 2018 in which we cover Distance, Kuya Wes, Pan De SalawalSchool Service, The Lookout and Shorts B. The 14th edition of Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival runs from August 3 to 12 at Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and select cinemas in Metro Manila.

READ MORE: Guide to Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival 2018


DISTANCE


Nonie Buencamino (Anton) and Iza Calzado (Liza) in ‘Distance.’ Photo via Cinemalaya.

Melancholy has always been a common pervading theme in Cinemalaya and this year, Percival Intalan’s Distance has arguably the smoothest delivery of that emotion. Unlike most conventional family dramas portrayed in cinema, the film withholds on revealing the history of conflict right away. Instead, it sets up the viewers to an awkward game of nuances and unspoken emotions, letting the feelings simmer in preparation to its cathartic third act. Such style works well in the context of the story: Liza (Iza Calzado) is an estranged mother and wife, who, at the request of her ex-husband (Nonie Buencamino), returns to a home that she left five years ago. She attempts mending fences with her two daughters (Therese Malvar and Alessandra Malonzo) but she does it by acting like nothing has happened. It does not help that the father lets her back into their lives unannounced, both parties forced to handle a tricky situation.

The film emotionally thrives by avoiding the elephant in the room. Take this scene for example, Liza’s family eats at a dining table while suppressing years of anger and disappointment. Calculating every move, they think of a way how to maneuver a conversation without getting into the touchy subject. They abide by a “don’t ask, don’t tell” philosophy and that’s perfectly understandable. As much as its moving to watch a character burst into tears like Bea Alonzo in her infamous scene in Four Sisters and a Wedding, this seldom happen in real life. People don’t get their lines right, people don’t find the right words to say at the right time. Most of them are content shoving unaddressed issues right under the rug in the fear of getting rejected or reopening old wounds. Distance understands this reality and chooses to operate with a restrained screenplay.

The film takes its time to build the tension, deftly injecting flashbacks to slowly unveil the truth. Yet, it doesn’t feel too dragging. Hence, when it gets to its single take confrontational climax, the moment feels earnest and grounded. The script, the direction and the camerawork all come together. The pathos subdued inside the characters’ cautious facades begin to fully manifest. Among its talented cast, the star that shines the brightest in this pivotal moment is Malvar. She delivers a performance that outlasts both Calzado and Buencamino. Next thing I know, manly tears started to well up in my eyes.

Distance ends before you even realize it, the film reminding you that you’re just a distant observer in this slice of life. Come to think of it, this is just a simple story a woman asking for her family’s forgiveness. Given to less capable hands, this will come out as a cheap soap opera. But with a quiet execution that speaks to the heart, this becomes a dark horse in the competition.

Directed by Perci Intalan, written by Keavy Eunice Vicente
Cast: Iza Calzado, Nonie Buencamino, Therese Malvar, Alessandra Malonzo, Adrianna So, Max Eigenmann, Lhian Khey Gimeno, Elia Maria Norelle Ilano, Erlinda Villalobos, Billy Seño, Tanya Gomez, Cherry Malvar, Myla Monido, Mailes Kanapi, Matt Daclan, Timothy Castillo
Run Time: 100 minutes

4.5 out of 5 stars


KUYA WES


Ogie Alcasid in ‘Kuya Wes.’ Photo via Cinemalaya.

In James Robin Mayo’s Kuya Wes, a timid remittance clerk (Ogie Alcasid as the titular character) falls head over heels for his monthly-visiting, mother of two customer Erika (Ina Raymundo), so bad that he starts shelling out his personal money when she suffers a misfortune. To dismiss the film as just as an endearing romcom will be a disservice to its more important cause. It actually serves as a tribute to the middlemen – the taken for granted, unsung heroes who are often seen as a means to an end. You see, Wes is a giving tree. Apart from the customers who are depending on his service, he supports his brother Raf (Alex Medina) and his family. However, by being the bringer of joy all the time, he often gets taken advantage of. He will soon realize that in this life, kindness doesn’t always beget kindness.

Kuya Wes has an array of quirky characters to contribute to the gags all throughout, with Moi Bien as Wes’ loyal and feisty coworker being the standout. But at the core of it is a lonely man who only draws excitement in his unremarkable life when his crush visits him once a month. Such ill-advised infatuation is only a representative of his general desire to be noticed and appreciated by the people around him. It is very relatable and the thoughtful production design accentuates this by contrasting Wes’ brightly-lit office against his dimly-lit apartment, signifying the emptiness he feels at the end of the day.

As Wes undergoes through character development, the deceptive comedy takes a darker turn by the third act. Its vague ending could have used more arc redemption and Erika’s character, no matter how magnetic Raymundo’s presence is, ultimately feels one-dimensional. But overall, the film is very watchable, benefiting mostly from Alcasid’s firm grasp of his character, a sharp editing and a soundtrack courtesy of Johnoy Danao and Shirebound & Busking. Kuya Wes is a character study that deserves to seen and understood.

Directed by James Robin Mayo, written by Denise O’Hara and Heber O’Hara
Cast: Ogie Alcasid, Ina Raymundo, Moi Bien, Alex Medina, Karen Gaerlan, Nestro Abrogena, Star Orjaliza, Rubi Rubi, Edmund Santiago, Gerhard Acao, Raqs Regalado, Sir Rener Korikz A. Concepcion, Timothy Mendoza, Erika Clemente & Trisha Melocotones
Run Time: 90 minutes

4 out of 5 stars


PAN DE SALAWAL


Miel Espinosa (Aguy) and Bodjie Pascua (Sal) in ‘Pan De Salawal.’ Photo via Cinemalaya.

Francesca Espiritu’s debut film Pan De Salawal kicks off by showing snippets of people living in a small community near Manila railroad. There’s a former beauty queen (Madeleine Nicolas) who suffers from a persistent cough, a barber (Lorenzo Aguila) who can’t function well because of hand spasms, a meat vendor (Soliman Cruz) who contracts a breast tumor, his shy son (Dominic Roco) who harbors a secret, an asthmatic drug store clerk (Anna Luna) along with her paralyzed mother (Ruby Ruiz), and at its center is Salvador (Bodjie Pascua), a lonely baker who’s plagued by a chronic kidney disease. Their storylines seems disparate at this point but they will eventually come together when a wandering scavenger girl named Aguy (Miel Espinosa) visits their town and starts performing miracles.

It’s no coincidence that her name is a Visayan term for “aray” or “ouch.” Aguy possesses healing powers and administers it by inflicting physical pain to her patients. In case it’s not clear, her healing methods is the writer’s subtle way of saying that, for you to alleviate the pain, you must recognize its existence first. “Pain comes before healing,” so to speak. The film does not only focus on physical illnesses but there are plenty of emotional pains shown here as well: loneliness, frustration, longing, etc. Aguy, as the beacon of hope, immediately becomes an invaluable member to the community. Good things come in small (and dirty) packages, don’t they? There’s charm and maturity to Espinosa’s performance that makes her hold the film together.

I’d like to fancy this film as a fusion of Wansapanataym (as its magic caters to a general audience, except it has mature themes for adults too) and Home Along Da Riles (obviously due to the neighborhood’s proximity to a railroad and because it’s big, tight-knit family reels you in to its sense of belongingness). Poverty is often exploited by films when it comes to this type of situation, so it’s refreshing to see it aestheticized here. Much like Aguy who wears an underwear on her head, the film embraces its absurdist fantasy/comedy concept and that’s what makes it easily stand out among the competition. It’s not perfect – there’s little development when it comes to Sal and Aguy’s friendship and the supporting characters are thinly-written, but Pan De Salawal remains to be a warm and fuzzy film that hits all the emotions needed to connect to a wider audience. If this can’t bring happy heartbeats and “shine” to your eyes, then you must be a grump.

Written and directed by Anna Francesca Espiritu
Cast: Bodjie Pascua, Miel Espinosa, Madeleine Nicolas, Anna Luna, Felix Roco, Soliman Cruz, Ian Lomongo, Ruby Ruiz, JM Salvado & Lorenzo Aguila
Run time: 100 minutes

4 out of 5 stars


SCHOOL SERVICE


Celine Juan (Maya) and Ai Ai delas Alas (Nanay Rita) in ‘School Service.’ Photovia Cinemalaya.

Louie Ignacio’s School Service is a socio-realist drama that immerses its viewers to the proliferating beggar syndicate crime preying on children. Maya (Celine Juan), a kidnapped girl from province, serves as our entry point of view to this scheme. We quickly learn that ‘Nay Rita (Ai Ai delas Alas), a wheelchair bound woman who pretends to be disabled, is the ringleader of the operations. The “school service” is used to transport the kids from one location to another where they proceed doing their own business – beg, steal, deceive, offer sexual services, etc.

There are no overlords involved in this story and the scope remains to be on a street-level. Hence, there’s nothing new here that recent superior poverty films like Eduardo Roy’s Pamilya Ordinaryo or Ralston Jover’s Hamog has not yet shown. Rita is the most interesting character and the story could provide fresh insights by letting her deal with the bigger players of the syndicate. But the film decides to split the attention between her, his brother (Joel Lamangan) who deals with an impatient boyfriend (Kevin Sagra) and Maya who constantly finds a way to sneak away from them. They are all underserved by an abrupt ending that lacks to be definitive, a proof that the story has taken a loose path right from the very start.

Delas Alas is good here – she deftly handles emotions of despair, frustration, subdued wrath, etc. Even if the film gives little exploration of her backstory, there’s gravitas to her performance. It’s only an affirmation to the unpopular opinion that she’s acts better in dramatic than comedic roles. The other thespic forces like Lamangan and Therese Malvar prove their place in this generation too. The same can be said for the rest of the child ensemble. That being said, this film will be mostly remembered for the performances.

School Service is satisfied in dipping on a surface level, it ends up purely being an exposition of familiar tropes. Without a solid plot that fully paints the humanity of these street children, it just feels exploitative.

Directed by Luisito Lagdameo Ignacio, written by Onay Sales
Cast: Ai-Ai delas Alas, Joel Lamangan, Celine Juan, Therese Malvar, Felixia Dizon, Joe Gruta, Kenken Nuyad, Kevin Sagra, Santino Oquendo & Ace Café
Run time: 95 minutes

2.5 out of 5 stars


THE LOOKOUT


Andres Vasquez (Lester) in ‘The Lookout.’ Photo via Cinemalaya.

Every year, Cinemalaya is notorious for having one entry that is unintentionally bad. For festival aficionados out there, you might have already seen it yourself or heard it from the grapevine – Afi Africa’s The Lookout sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s a revenge story of Lester Quiambao (Andres Vazquez), a gay hired killer who’s been a victim of child-trafficking in the past. He seeks retribution to all the persons who have wronged him. There are other subplots too involving the police force, but discussing them will be a futile exercise. Anyway, this is a very painful story that demands our empathy and tears. Unfortunately, it gets laughs instead.

Five minutes getting into this film, I already realized that the best way I can get the most out of this is to laugh along the audience. But even that proves to be a tough task. For the most part, my facial muscles are stuck in a limbo between feeling ‘hilarious’ and feeling ‘cringey’. Lester is a gay with a high libido for the sole purpose of parading gratuitous sex scenes with little payoff to the overall plot. The film clearly has important messages to tell with all the forced philosophical talks going on, but it seems to be more interested in displaying naked bodies, amassing all the “bomba” elements it needs to be part of the edgy cinema.

There are a lot of artistic choices that don’t work – weird camera angles, poor production designs, annoying flashback effects that takes you out of it, etc. But the biggest offender of all is the screenplay which features wildly inconsistent characters, unintended gags and cringey dialogues. The most flinching one that I can pull out of my head is this, “Magkaiba ang ‘I love you’ at ang ‘Mahal kita.’ Ang ‘I love you’ galing sa puso. Ang ‘Mahal kita’ galing sa puso tagos sa kaluluwa.” I hereby rest my case.

It’s a shame because Yayo Aguila does a fine job here. Her level of acting, unmatched by any of the cast, makes it feel like she belongs to an entirely different movie. By the third act, all logic and common sense jump out of the window in favor of concocting a mind-twisting, convoluted plot. Frankly, I was no longer invested and I just wanted it to be over with.

It won’t take a genius to tell that The Lookout is a rushed project because it shows. The story keeps on inorganically evolving every turn, as if the script is revised during production. The output ends up dull, confusing and devoid of any genuine filmmaking. The verdict: 1 star for Yayo Aguila, plus half a star for the laughs, because I’m not a heartless af.

Written and directed by Afi Africa
Cast: Yayo Aguila, Rez Cortez, Efren Reyes, Alvin Fortuna, Jeffrey Santos, Benedict Campos, Aries Go, Lharby Policarpio, Jemina Sy, Jay Garcia, Elle Ramirez, Andres Vazquez, Nourish Icon Lapuz, Xenia Barrameda, Dennis Coronel Macalintal, Ahwel Paz & Mon Gualvez
Run time: 105 minutes

1.5 out of 5 stars


SHORTS B


Still shots from ‘Shorts B.’ Photo via Cinemalaya.

Jav Velasco’s ‘You, Me and Mr. Wiggles’ is a single-take overhead shot of a couple trying to overcome erectile dysfunction in bed. I’m still not entirely sold with the necessity of its frontal nudity but the direction is impressive with this one. Rating: 3.5/5

Directed by Jav Velasco, written by Denise O’Hara and Jav Velasco
Cast: Kiko Matos Elora Espano
Run time: 19 minutes

Keith Deligero’s ‘Babylonis a local assassination plot that involves time travel. Erratic, absurd but as a collective whole, very confusing. I’ll have the humility to admit that I am not in the same wavelength with this short. Too experimental is not my cup of tea. Rating: 2.5/5

Directed by Keith Deligero, written by Gale Osorio
Cast: Patricia Zosa, Rhyles Cameron, Rya de Guzman, Nicole Blackman, Publio Briones III
Run time: 20 minutes

Jojo Driz’s ‘Kiko’ is about a gay laundress who finds what matters the most in life’s roller coaster journey. Of all the shorts, this one leaves the most haunting image. I am, however, bewildered with so many things that it tries to achieve. Rating: 2.5/5

Written and directed by Florencio M. Driz, Jr.
Cast: Domingo Almoete, Neil Suarez, Earl Andrew Figueroa
Run time: 19 minutes

Jarell Serencio’s ‘Siyudad Sa Bulawan(City of Gold) may seem like it lacks the focus, but that’s because it tries to hit so many birds with one stone: issues of poverty, child labor and illegal mining. This would work better as a full-length film. Rating: 3.5/5

Written and directed by Jarell Mahinay Serencio
Cast: Manny Gonzales, Rich-er Gonzales, Gabriel Libunao
Run time: 15 minutes

Mika Fabella and Rafael Froilan’s ‘Yakap(Embrace) is an interpretative dance portraying a woman’s last few moments of life before crossing over to the afterlife. With such a short run time, the film could have opted for a single continuous shot to maximize visual excitement, just like what last year’s Juana and the Sacred Shores did. Rating: 2/5

Written and directed by Mika Fabella and Rafael Froilan
Cast: Rita Angela Winder, Jean Marc Cordero, TJ Abat, Jaycee Noriega, Regina Malay
Run time: 6 minutes

READ MORE: Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival Report Part 1

MOVIE REVIEWS: Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival 2018 (Part 1)

Here’s the first part of our festival report on Cinemalaya 2018 in which we cover Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang DapithaponMamang, LiwayMLMusmos Na Sumibol Sa Gubat Ng Digma and Shorts A. The 14th edition of Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival runs from August 3 to 12 at Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and select cinemas in Metro Manila.

READ MORE: Guide to Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival 2018


KUNG PAANO HINIHINTAY ANG DAPITHAPON


Perla Bautista (Teresa), Dante Rivero (Bene), and Menggie Cobarrubias (Celso) in ‘Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon’. Photo via Cinemalaya.

On surface level, Carlo Enciso Catu’s Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon is a testament to the abundance of geriatric love stories needed to be told in local cinema. It tells the story of a terminally-ill old man Bene (Dante Rivero) who lives alone in his decrepit house. In his last days, he decides to reach out to his estranged wife Teresa (Perla Bautista) who now lives with her partner Celso (Menggie Cobarrubias).

The film finds strength in its fully-fleshed characters, each driven by their own motivations in search of peace and happiness during their twilight years. The one thing they have in common is that none of them wants to die alone. There presents a conflict and the film will lead us to believe that Bene and Celso should vie for Teresa’s love and attention. But Dapithapon has a lot more facets on old age than jealousy and companionship. It is about seeking forgiveness for your past transgressions, finding closure on things that you have given up thought a long time ago and coming into terms with your lifetime of regrets.

Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon offers a solid direction, anchored by a credible cast ensemble. It lingers enough on mundanity to establish a melancholic tone yet it has surprising bits of dark humor to lighten up the mood. It makes no attempt on calling attention to itself through dramatic confrontations, everything is just a remnant from the past. It may not reach an emotional high but as soon as the film ends, the weight of it starts to fall on your shoulders.

Directed by Carlo Enciso Catu from a screenplay written by John Carlo Pacala
Cast: Dante Rivero, Menggie Cabarrubias and Perla Bautista with Romnick Sarmenta, Che Ramos, Ryan Ronquillo, Jacqueline Cortex, Dunhill Banzon, Stanley Abuloc
Run time: 90 minutes

4.5 out of 5 stars


LIWAY


Glaiza De Castro (Day), Kenken Nuyad (Dakip) and Dominic Rocco (Ric) in ‘Liway.’ Photo via Cinemalaya.

Of all the Cinemalaya entries, Kip Oebanda’s Liway is the most personal work of the bunch. It’s a biopic of the director’s mother, Commander Liway (Glaiza De Castro) a.k.a ‘Day,’ told in the perspective of her son Dakip (Kenken Nuyad as young Oebanda). The story takes place in Camp Delgado prison where captured rebel Day shelters Dakip from the atrocities of Martial Law by telling him myths about an enchantress named Liway of Mt. Kanlaon. Little did the boy know, this is actually a fictionalized version of Day and her comrades’ resistance against the Marcos dictatorship.

Seeing the film’s poster – a pregnant mother armed with a rifle, I came into this movie with a different expectation. I wanted to see Commander Liway preaching her beliefs, leading a rebellion, making compromises, etc. all while bearing a child so that the audience will have a full grasp on what makes her tick both as a freedom fighter and as a mother. But Liway actually took a different direction and prioritized more on the mother aspect. Majority of the scenes here occur inside the prison, dealing with the aftermath of their capture. Frankly, it’s not quite compelling since prison life only imposes minimal threat compared to rebel life. Once the film starts teasing the gripping flashbacks to fill in Day’s backstory, it becomes clear how the film partially shortchanges you from a tension-filled plot. Whether the choice to limit those scenes is due to directorial choice or budget limitations, I wouldn’t know.

But Liway does not entirely miss the point and successfully paints its lead as a multi-faceted character – she can be brave and helpless, a caring mother and an inspirational figure at the same time. It owes a lot from De Castro’s restrained demeanor and vocal ability (she sings Asin’s ‘Bayan Ko’ and ‘Himig ng Pag-ibig’ to deliver emotional beats). Whatever the plot lacks in tension, the film compensates it with a lot of heartfelt mother and son scenes, along with a strong cast performance.

Overall, Liway’s narrative structure tries a lot of things and it ends up tonally incongruous. No matter how saturated the Martial Law subgenre is (yes, I’m calling it a thing), this is still an important story that deserves to be told. The film garners a huge applause during its gala screening, it even led to some activist chants, but those are mostly for different reasons – the director’s blood relation to Liway and the fact that this film is partially funded with Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth. It could feel a little self-serving and over-hyped since Commander Liway’s contribution to the nation as a freedom fighter is not much highlighted in the film. I was honestly left yearning for more.

Directed by Kip Oebanda, written by Kip Oebanda and Zig Dulay
Cast: Glaiza De Castro, Dominic Roco, Kenken Nuyad, Sue Prado, Soliman Cruz, Joel Saracho, Paolo O’Hara, Madeleine Nicolas, Ebong Joson, Nico Antonio, Khalil Ramos, Gerry Cornejo, Diana Alferez, Juli Bautista, Pau Benitez, Liway Gabo, She Maala, Renante Bustamante.
Run time: 100 minutes

3.5 out of 5 stars


MAMANG


Ketchup Eusebio (Ferdie) and Celeste Legaspi (Mamang) in Mamang. Photo via Cinemalaya.

Denise O’Hara’s Mamang tackles on the struggles (and the unexpected pleasures) of having dementia at old age. Celeste Legaspi plays the titular character who is troubled by the apparitions of her former lovers, each having a different impact to her mood and disposition. The film bears a light tone in general and it draws laughs from Mamang’s charming antics, along with Legaspi who gives a semi-theatrical performance suited for her character.

Eventually, the silliness runs dry as the film indulges too much on her stereotype – a temperamental, self-centered old lady, rather than spending time to dissect the reasons for her mental illness and how all her episodes fit in the bigger picture. The film also makes an odd decision of using neon lights, inadvertently giving away the film’s twist a mile too early. Hence, there’s not much emotional impact when it is needed the most.

Mamang’s fractured mind can only do so much to shelter her from reality. As a character study, Mamang feels like a prolonged dream, dallying and too spontaneous when it comes to execution that it somehow misses to leave a strong mark in the end. That being said, this should work best if viewed as a heartfelt story between Mamang and her son Ferdie (Ketchup Eusebio).

Written and Directed by Denise O’Hara
Cast: Celeste Legaspi, Ketchup Eusebio, Peewee O’Hara, Alex Medina, Gio Gahol, Elora Espano, Paolo O’Hara
Run time: 90 minutes

3 out of 5 stars


ML


Tony Labrusca (Carlo), Eddie Garcia (Colonel) and Henz Villaraiz (Jaze) in ‘ML’. Photo by Cinemalaya.

Having read the synopsis of this film last year, Benedict Mique’s ML turns out exactly what I expected it to be – an arm-gripping and eye-wincing thriller propaganda against Martial Law. The antagonist comes in the form of The Colonel (Eddie Garcia), a PTSD-stricken hermit who transforms into a merciless torturer upon mention of the film’s title. Enter a Marcos apologist student named Carlo (Tony Labrusca), along with his best friend (Henz Villaraiz) and his girlfriend (Lianne Valentin), who are given assignments to research on the subject of Martial Law. Carlo decides to interview the retired soldier and needless to say, it doesn’t end well.

Once the film starts with the torturing, it really gets graphic and uncomfortable. At best, ML is a reminder from the dark ages to never repeat the same mistakes again, the film getting away with all the violence displayed since they are historical based. At worst, it’s a checklist of torture porn made to evoke feelings of trauma for the older generation and to impose terror for the new generation. Much like its poor victims, it shackles you by the limbs and never really gives you an option: “Martial Law is bad,” the film cries out loud.

Garcia, on his 3rd Cinemalaya film, never disappoints with an ominous presence to scare the bejesus out of you. Still, he never comes out as one-dimensional as the film presents his character’s lighter side – to his family, he’s a loving grandfather. It’s a schizophrenic personality that works like a switch. The younger cast, mostly composed of fresh faces, do a fine job in braving their roles. For the most part though, they are just trapped inside the basement, the film constrained to romp up the action due to Garcia’s physical limitations.

ML has a competent direction but it can’t conceal the plot holes of the script, especially a huge one towards the end. On a commercial level, the film may have fared better if catered as a home invasion or domestic thriller with subtle hints of political commentary. But you can’t really blame Mique’s preference for a direct, vindictive approach when he has been steely-eyed of his mission from the very start. This film aims to persuade millenials who are not “woke” or simply have forgotten. However, as a viewer, the most earned realization comes out when both sides of the spectrum are given equal weight and I came up with my own decision. Unfortunately, ML does not give you that liberty.

Directed by Benedict Mique
Cast: Eddie Garcia, Tony Labrusca, Lianne Valentin, Henz Villaraiz, Jojit Lorenzo, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, Chanel Latorre, Chrome Cosio, Richard Manabat, Maritess Joaquin, Kino Rementilla, Jindric Macapagal, Rein Adriano, Khalifa Floresta, Mila Talagtag
Run time: 90 minutes

3 out of 5 stars


MUSMOS NA SUMIBOL SA GUBAT NG DIGMA


‘Musmos Na Sumibol Sa Gubat Ng Digma’ Photo via Cinemalaya.

Set amidst an ongoing Marawi clan feud, Iar Lionel Arondaing’s Musmos Na Sumibol Sa Gubat Ng Digma (english title: Unless The Water Is Safer Than The Land), is a coming-of-age tale of a runaway Muslim girl Eshal (Junyka Sigrid Santarin) who is forced to take care of her infant brother Affan in the middle of a forest. She forges an unlikely alliance with a boy named Farhan (JM Salvado) but in doing so, she has to pretend being a boy to protect her identity. This is interspersed with a different timeline – a grandfather and a grandson discussing and walking around in the same forest. The connection of these two storylines should come full circle by the third act.

Two minutes into this film, I already know that Musmos is a strong contender for the Best in Cinematography award. The title of the film flashes on a sensational backdrop of a burning nipa hut and rice field. It goes on for a good amount of time, a prelude to the abundance of long-tracking shots that will be heavily used in the film. This should demand lots of patience. Unfortunately, it does not fully pay off. The film fails to connect on a personal level and that has something to do to with its indulgence for lush wide shots and lack of close-ups required to see the emotions from its characters. You’ll have to admire both kids for doing most of the heavy-lifting here though the choice to use Tagalog in dialogues makes them look less genuine.

Passages from Quran are sang throughout, encouraging the viewers to decipher how these phrases relate to the current situation. It puts you into a trance and the meaning simply gets lost. It’s a shame because Muslims, especially the marginalized groups, are not often given voices in the indie scene. This one bids well with its message of peace and acceptance but its full-on subtle approach fails to achieve profundity in the end. With a relatively thin material stretched into a full-length film, Musmos Na Sumibol Sa Gubat Ng Digma comes out as an exhibition of superb, dream-like cinematography ranging from ethereal to haunting. For the most part, that’s just it.

Written and directed by Iar Lionel Arondaing
Cast: Junyka Sigrid Santarin, JM Salvado, Star Orjaliza, Jun Salvado, Jr., Romerico Jangad, Darril Ampongan, Haide Movero
Runtime: 105 minutes

2.5 out of 5 stars


SHORTS A


Still shots from Shorts A. Photos via Cinemalaya.

Xeph Suarez’s Si Astri Maka Si Tambulah (Astri and Tambulah) is an affecting story of a man and transgender woman trying to overcome the prejudice of an oppressive Badjao tradition. The acting and direction of this short is serviceable enough to tell an otherwise great, heartbreaking story representative of the struggles of LGBT community. Rating: 3.5/5

Directed by Xeph Suarez, written by Cenon Obispo Palomares
Cast: Astri Tahari, Usman Agga, Taha Daranda, Tambulah Aspari, Lucky Mahari, Diane Alberto, Alexandria Abdullah
Run time: 18 minutes

The most bonkers in the shorts category, Carlo Francisco Manatad’s Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month makes fun of a miserable situation. A hardworking gas station employee, in her final shift at work, devises several methods to sell gasoline. Underneath the insanity that ensues, this short works as a socio-commentary on the plight and desperation of blue collar workers. Angeli Bayani stripping of vanity and getting along with whatever the script demands her to do is a delight to watch. Rating: 4/5

Written and directed by Carlo Francisco Manatad
Cast: Angeli Bayani, Ross Pesigan, Ogie Tiglao, Grace Naval
Run time: 13 minutes

Kani Villaflor’s Logro follows the life of Bruno, a marginalized little person. An evident sense of empathy is already established once you realize that the camera angle is placed from his point of view. It quickly sticks to a patronizing approach at the expense of making its character look dumb. The ending does not serve its intention well. Rating: 2.5/5

Directed by Kani Villaflor
Cast: Armand Castro, Richie Albadira, Maribel Tambis, Danny Sta. Maria
Run time: 15 minutes

Christian Candelaria’s Sa Saiyang Isla (In His Island) is probably the safest bet to surely touch your heart with its sincerity. An innocent, young boy dreams of becoming a mermaid to help a fishing community plagued by an oil spill. Apart from being a coming-of-age story, this short also explores the critical role of parents in the growth of their children. Prepare for some happy tears. Rating: 4.5/5

Written and directed by Christian Candelaria
Cast: Anzley Candelaria, Selina Boucher, Ronald Regala
Run time: 20 minutes

Glenn Barit, winner of last year’s shorts category with Aliens Ata, comes back with a new experimental concept in Nangungupahan (Who Rents There Now?). The short follows the lives of different people occupying the same apartment in different points in time, artistically placed side by side in jigsaw frames. It might take a while before you understand the film’s ending. Rating: 3.5/5

Written and directed by Glenn Barit
Cast: Erlinda Villalobos, Pauli Roa, Meann Espinosa, Joseph dela Cruz, JM Jamisola, Aldy Aguirre, Yvanne Cadiz, Voughnne Miguel Sonza, Paul Quiano, Nu Nunez, Eduardo Ngo, Snowflake
Run time: 12 minutes

READ MORE: Cinemalaya 2018 Festival Report Part 2

Tony Labrusca marks movie acting debut via Cinemalaya entry ‘ML’

New actor Tony Labrusca finds it an honor to share co-lead role with the legendary and iconic actor Eddie Garcia via his debut film, “ML” (short for “Martial Law”), an official entry to Cinemalaya 2018.

In “ML”, written and directed by Benedict Mique, Tony plays a sheltered teen-age boy who experiences “Martial Law” first hand – from a retired military soldier with slight dementia who believes it’s still the Martial Law era.

What can Tony say about working with the great Eddie Garcia?

“He’s the man, he’s a legend. The fact that I was able to work with him, I’m such a new actor. It was such a humbling experience for me, and I have to admit, I was very intimidated.

“I stepped in there (on the set), not knowing what will gonna happen, how our relationship be like, but it was really humbling and I learned a lot.

“This is an experience that I will always be able to tell people one day when I grow up, that ‘I did a movie with Eddie Garcia!’” says the proud newcomer.

How did he prepare for his role?

“I’m a new actor, so I prepared by going through the script with Direk Benedict Mique and really evaluating every scene. He was always there for me, guiding me. That’s how we prepared.

“We had a really symbiotic relationship, kasi, I couldn’t do any other scenes without him, and obviously, I’m his main actor, and so we definitely helped each other out. I’m really blessed that he chose and trusted a new actor like me. So, we just prepared by working through it together.

“Direk Benedict just made us watch videos, ‘coz there are certain scenes that we needed to feel, like the horrible things that happened to people.”

What was his realization after doing the film?

“I think my realization now is that, you just have to make an open mind. Ako kasi, I’m not really a political person.

“But I think, after watching this movie, it’s just good to be very aware about your surroundings. I think, that’s the biggest thing. More than people taking sides, or to be aggressive or inactive, I think it’s just about knowing your surroundings, being more aware and just educating yourself.”

How was the over-all experience doing his very first independent film in a co-lead role with Eddie Garcia?

“I love it! I love it so much. It’s a completely different vibe.

“I wanna encourage everybody out there, that if you’re an aspiring actor, and you think that mainstream is the only way to make it, I think it’s important that you give indie a shot, and you’ll realize a whole new respect for the art!” says Tony Labrusca.

“ML” will be screened at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and select Ayala Malls Cinemas during the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival run on August 4-12.

Erik Matti’s ‘Buy Bust’ to open 14th Cinemalaya filmfest

Action-thriller “BuyBust” will open the 14th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival on August 3, at the CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater). The opening film will be screened at 7 p.m., following the opening program at 6 p.m.

Directed by Erik Matti, the film follows rookie police officer Nina Manigan who joins the anti-narcotic elite squad. Soon, two teams are deployed to conduct a buy-bust operation in the slums of Manila. Realizing that the mission is poorly executed, the anti-narcotic squad finds themselves trapped by a gang of slum settlers and needs to fight their way out to escape.

Co-produced by Reality Entertainment and Viva Films, “BuyBust” is deemed as one of the most ambitious first full-on action films in recent local cinema history. With a budget of over ₱80 million, the film employed more than 300 stuntmen and utilized over 250,000 grams of gunpowder.

Production began in 2016, with the filming lasting 56 days starting in March 2017. The film premiered on June 29, 2018 at the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) and was the festival’s closing feature film.

The film is topbilled by actress Anne Curtis who played the lead role, and MMA fighter Brandon Vera. Completing the cast are Victor Neri, Arjo Atayde, Nonie Buencamino, Lao Rodriguez, Alex Calleja, Levi Ignacio, Ricky Pascua, Joross Gamboa, Sheenly Gener, Mara Lopez, AJ Muhlach, Tarek El Tayech, Maddie Martinez, Nafa Hilario, Ian Ignacio, and Mikey Alcaraz.

The screening of “BuyBust” will be invitational, with limited tickets available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. The tickets will be distributed on August 3, starting at 2 pm, at the CCP Little Theater Lobby.

Cinemalaya, the country’s biggest indie film festival in the Philippines, will run from August 3 to 12, at various venues of the CCP and selected Ayala Mall Cinemas. It is a project of the Cinemalaya Foundation, Inc., the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Ayala Malls Cinemas. Established in 2005, the film festival aims to discover, encourage and honor cinematic works of Filipino filmmakers.

READ MORE: Complete Guide to Cinemalaya 2018

Following the theme “Wings of Vision,” this year’s Cinemalaya features 10 full-length films and 10 short films in the Main Competition section, vying for the major awards.

There are also the festival’s mainstays: Dokyu, the documentary section; Best of the Festivals, which showcases the best films from local festivals; Indie Nation, a special section featuring independent films; Visions of Asia, featuring award-winning Asian and NETPAC films. There will also be a showcase of the final projects of the Directing and Production Management workshops under the 4th Cinemalaya Institute.

Cinemalaya and Nespresso also partnered to bring the Nespresso Vertical Short Competition. Following the theme “Pagmamalasakit (Empathy),” the vertical shorts competition seeks to discover, encourage and honor cinematic works of Filipino filmmakers.

There will also be a tribute to Maryo J. Delos Reyes through a special screening of his best films “Bagets” and “Magnifico”; and to Bernardo Bernardo by showing “Manila by Night” by Ishmael Bernal. Retrospective section will feature the 2017 Cinemalaya Best Film “Respeto” by Treb Monteras, and “Baconaua” by Joseph Israel Laban who won Best Director.

On its 30th edition, the Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video, considered the longest-running independent film competition of its kind in the ASEAN region, will once again harvest the best of the best, with films competing in various categories such as Short Feature/Narrative, Experimental, Documentary and Animation. Pre-selected entries will be screened on August 4-6 at the CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theater).

The Cinemalaya Campus, a major component of Cinemalaya, is slated on August 7 & 8 at the Silangan Hall. The Cinemalaya Awards Night will be held on August 12, 2018 at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).

For more information, visit http://www.cinemalaya.org, http://www.culturalcenter.gov.ph, or Cinemalaya Facebook page. You may also call CCP Media Arts at 832-1125 local 1704 to 1705. For ticket inquiries, call the CCP Box Office at 832-3704.

Eddie Garcia on his third Cinemalaya film, ‘ML’ (Martial Law)

In 2005, during the birth of Cinemalaya Film Festival, there was already an Eddie Garcia starrer among its pioneer lineup of finalists – “ICU Bed No. 7” by Rica Arevalo. Seven years later in 2012, the award-winning actor (and director) again topbilled an unforgettable Cinemalaya film, “Bwakaw” by Jun Robles Lana. In both films, the “great” Eddie Garcia grabbed the much-coveted Cinemalaya Best Actor awards.

This year (2018), another six years later, the seasoned thespian returns to the popular independent film festival in the country. His third Cinemalaya film is “ML” (short for “Martial Law”), written and directed by Benedict Mique. The film also topbills new Kapamilya actor Tony Labrusca, also with fellow newcomers Lianne Valentin and Henz Villaraiz.

ML is about three teenagers get more than what they bargained for when they learn about the dark days of Martial Law straight from an old retired soldier.

Now on its 14th year, CINEMEALAYA 2018 is slated on August 3-12 in CCP Theaters and select Ayala Cinemas (Trinoma, Glorietta, Greenbelt 1, UP Town Center, and Legazpi Cinema in Bicol).

What is his role in “ML”?

“I play a retired Metrocom Colonel with a slight dementia, that’s why I believe that currently, it’s still the era of Martial Law. So, I thought, the kids were activists.”

Does he believe that the concept of Marial Law still caters the millennials?

“I believe that the film has an intriguing concept and it’s good to be shown to today’s generation. Dapat talaga itong mapanood ng mga kabataan ngayon.

“I think the film is very timely too, so it will be good if it will be seen by the youth of today. Magugustuhan nila ito, lalo na ang mga taong hindi pa buhay nu’ng panahon ng Martial Law. Para makita nila kung ano ang nangyari.”

In a legendary status like him, how was it working with these newbies?

“Well, they were good. Everyone was disciplined. To break the ice on the set, we chat in between takes and everything went fine.

In his own opinion, does the Philippines need Martial Law?

“Well, kung ang mga tao ay wala nang disiplina, kailangan. Dapat, may latigo! Parang ‘yung role ko dito sa pelikulang ito, ako ang magdi-disiplina. Well, it’s just a role.”

Looking back, how was his personal experience during the Martial Law days?

“Kapag hindi ka makikialam, walang mangyayari sa ‘yo. Kapag nakialam ka, may mangyayari sa ‘yo.”

At his age of 89, what makes him doing films until now, especially that it’s his third in Cinemalaya?

“Well, whatever is offered to me, I accept it. It’s just a job. Ako kasi, kahit na anong i-offer, tinatanggap ko, eh. Walang masamang damo sa akin.

“There’s something in Cinemalaya, because naiiba ito kesa sa mga ordinaryong film festivals. But it’s just a job. If awards come, it’s just a bonus.”

Is there a plan to retire from the showbiz industry?

“None. As long as they need me, I’ll be there. If they don’t need me anymore, I will quit,” says the iconic Eddie Garcia.

For the record, Eddie Garcia has been in the industry for 69 years now (his first film was in 1949), has made around 600 films, and has a total of 39 awards (local and international), the only Filipino actor who’s been elevated to theFAMAS Hall of Fame (as best actor, best supporting actor, and best director), and other Lifetime Achievement Awards.

He joked that the only role that he has not done yet is to become a “leading lady.”

ML is one of the ten full-length finalists of Cinemalaya 2018, which will run on August 3-12 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and select Ayala Malls Cinemas.

‘BuyBust’ to open 2018 Cinemalaya filmfest

The much anticipated Pinoy action-thriller film, “BuyBust,” will be the opening film of this year’s Cinemalaya: Philippine Independent Film Festival, which runs August 3-12 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and select Ayala Malls Cinemas (Trinoma, Glorietta, Greenbelt 1, U.P. Town Center, Legazpi in Bicol).

This was confirmed by Cinemalaya Foundation President Laurice Guillen and Festival Director Chris Millado, who wish to thank Viva Films and Reality Entertainment, the production outfits behind Erik Matti’s new film, for the support it has given to the long-running local film festival.

The opening ceremonies of Cinemalaya 2018 will start at 6:00 PM on August 3, Friday, at the CCP Main Theater. This will be followed by the screening of the opening film, BuyBust, which is a paid screening. All-Access Pass holders will have priority lane at the entrance door. Ticket information will be released soon.

Meanwhile, “BuyBust” had its world premiere on July 15 (Manila time) as the closing film of the New York Asian Film Festival.

Graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) and Rated R-16 by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), its commercial nationwide run will start on August 1, Wednesday.

“BuyBust” will have its invitational premiere night on July 23, Monday, at Trinoma Mall in Quezon City. It will also have a special advance screening on July 25, Wednesday, at the UP Cine Adarna in the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City.

GUIDE: Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival 2018

Now on its 14th year, Cinemalaya: The Philippine Independent Film Festival will run from August 3-12 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP)  and select Ayala Malls cinemas (Trinoma, Glorietta 4, Greenbelt 1, U.P. Town Center, and Ayala Mall Legazpi in Bicol).

For the list of full-length films and short films in competition, please see below.

Also, audiences will continue to enjoy the festival’s mainstays: Dokyu, the documentary section; Best of the Festivals, which showcases the best films from local festivals; Indie Nation, a special section featuring independent films; Visions of Asia, featuring award-winning Asian and Netpac films. There will also be a showcase of the final projects of the Directing and Production Management workshops under the 4th Cinemalaya Institute.

Cinemalaya will pay tribute to Maryo J. Delos Reyes through a special screening of his best films “Bagets” and “Magnifico”; and to Bernardo Bernardo by showing “Manila by Night” by Ishmael Bernal. Retrospective section will feature the 2017 Cinemalaya Best Film “Respeto” by Treb Monteras, and “Baconaua” by Joseph Israel Laban who won Best Director.

On its 30th edition, the Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video, considered the longest-running independent film competition of its kind in the ASEAN region, will once again harvest the best of the best, with films competing in various categories such as Short Feature/Narrative, Experimental, Documentary and Animation. Pre-selected entries will be screened on August 4-6 at the CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde (Dream Theater).

The Cinemalaya Campus, a major component of Cinemalaya, is slated on August 7 & 8 at the Silangan Hall. The Cinemalaya Awards Night will be held on August 12, 2018 at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).

Since 2005, Cinemalaya has continued to discover, encourage and support the cinematic works of upcoming and veteran Filipino filmmakers who boldly articulate and freely interpret the Philippine experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity.

To date, Cinemalaya has supported and promoted the production of Filipino full feature independent films and short films. Many of these films have won awards in local and international competitions and festivals.

Through the annual festival, Cinemalaya has showcased over 1,000 works by independent filmmakers including full feature films, shorts, documentaries, Filipino film classics, and art films.

SCREENING SCHEDULES

Here is the complete screening schedules of CINEMALAYA 2018, which you can download and print for your own plotting (2nd version as of Aug 1).

FEATURED FILMS

OPENING FILM

BUY BUST by Erik Matti. The opening ceremonies and the opening film will both be held at the CCP Main Theater from 6:00 PM onwards.

FILMS IN COMPETITION: FULL-LENGTH FILMS

  • DISTANCE by Perci Intalan
  • KUNG PAANO HINIHINTAY ANG DAPITHAPON by Carlo Enciso Catu
  • KUYA WES by Jay Mayo
  • LIWAY by Kip Oebanda
  • MAMANG by Denise O’Hara
  • ML by BENEDICTO MIQUE, JR.
  • MUSMOS NA SUMIBOL SA GUBAT NG DIGMA by Iar Lionel Benjamin Arondaing
  • PAN DE SALAWAL by Che Espiritu
  • SCHOOL SERVICE by Louie Ignacio
  • THE LOOKOUT by Afi Africa

FILMS IN COMPETITION: SHORT FILMS

SET A:

  • ASTRI AND TAMBULAH by Xeph Suarez
  • JODILERKS DELA CRUZ, EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH by Carlo Francisco Manatad
  • LOGRO by Kani Villaflor
  • NANGUNGUPAHAN by Glenn Barit
  • SA SAÍYANG ISLÁ (In His Island) by Christian Candelaria

SET B:

  • BABYLON by Keith Deligero
  • KIKO by Jojo Driz
  • SIYUDAD SA BULAWAN (CITY OF GOLD) by Jarell Serencio
  • YAKAP by Mika Fabella and Rafael Froilan, Jr.
  • YOU, ME, AND MR. WIGGLES by Jay Velasco

EXHIBITION FILMS: INDIE NATION

  • CITIZEN JAKE by Mike De Leon
  • DELIA AND SAMMY by Therese Cayaba
  • GUSTO KITA WITH ALL MY HYPOTHALAMUS by Dwein Baltazar
  • MEET ME IN ST. GALLEN by Irene Villamor 
  • MGA MISTER NI ROSARIO by Allan Habon 
  • SI CHEDENG AT SI APPLE by Rae Red and Fatrick Tabada
  • SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES by Raya Martin

EXHIBITION FILMS: VISIONS OF ASIA

  • BETI by P. Sheshadri
  • BAD GENIUS by Nattawut Poonpiriya
  • THE CHANTERS by James Mayo
  • GOODBYE, GRANDPA! by Yukihiro Morogaki
  • NEAREST & DEAREST by Kseniya Zueva
  • OF LOVE & LAW by Hikaru Toda

EXHIBITION FILMS: BEST OF THE FESTIVALS

  • TALE OF THE LOST BOYS (Sinag Maynila 2018 Best Film) by Joselito Altarejos
  • THE ETERNITY BETWEEN SECONDS (Cine Filipino 2018 Best Film) by Alec Figuracion
  • PAKI (Cinema One Originals 2017 Best Film) by Giancarlo Abrahan
  • ANG LARAWAN (MMFF 2017 Best Film) by Loy Arcenas

Exhibition Films: Dokyu

  • YIELD by Toshihiko Uriu and Victor Delotavo Tagaro
  • CALL HER GANDA by PJ Raval
  • 50 YEARS OF FABULOUS by Jethro Cuenca Patalinghug
  • HONOR, THE LEGACY OF JOSE ABAD SANTOS by Bani Logroño
  • A. LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT by Jhett Tolentino
    B. A PIECE OF PARADISE by Patrick Alcedo, Ph.D.

CLOSING FILM

  • THE TASTE OF RICE FLOWER by Pengfei

TICKET INFORMATION

A. GENERAL TICKET/ PASS INFORMATION

I. TICKET PRICES

Regular Price: P150 per screening
Student Price: P100 per screening
Discounts: 20% for Senior Citizens, PWD, Government and Military Personnel

II. FESTIVAL PASSES
Revenue Passes (with Cards):

a. ALL- ACCESS FESTIVAL PASS
• P3,500
• Admission to all festival screenings at CCP venues only (not valid in Ayala Cinemas)
• Free seating on a first-come first-served basis (subject to availability once screening starts).
• Priority lane entry to the theater.
• Priority to tickets to all free admission screenings (Pass holder needs to get a ticket 2 hours before screening time).
• Non-transferable

b. FIC PASS (Films-in-Competition)
• P2,000
• Admission to 12 Main Films-in-Competition (10 full-length competition screenings and 2 sets of short films) plus 3 additional films of choice at CCP venues only (not valid in Ayala Cinemas).
• Free seating on a first-come first-served basis (subject to availability once screening starts).
• Priority lane entry.
• Priority to tickets to all free admission screenings (Pass holder needs to get a ticket 2 hours before screening time).
• Non-transferable

Revenue Passes (Ticketed):

a. ONE DAY PASS
• P500 – admission to 4 screenings for the day (validity date is indicated on the ticket)
• P700 – admission to 5 screenings for the day (validity date is indicated on the ticket)
• Admission to CCP venues only (not valid in Ayala Cinemas).

b. VIP BOX (1 Screening)
• P1,200
• One (1) dedicated box with 6 seats at the Main Theater for one (1) screening (validity date is indicated on the ticket).
• Priority to tickets to all free admission screenings (Pass holder needs to get a ticket 2 hours before screening time).
• Non-transferable

c. VIP BOX (1 Day)
• P4,500
One (1) dedicated box with 6 seats at the Main Theater good for 4 screenings for one (1) day (validity date is indicated on the ticket)

• P5,500
One (1) dedicated box with 6 seats at the Main Theater good for 5 screenings for one (1) day (validity date is indicated on the ticket).

• Priority to tickets to all free admission screenings (Pass holder needs to get a ticket 2 hours before screening time).
• Non-transferable.

NOTES:

1. All-Access Pass (P3,500) and FIC (Films In Competition) Pass (P2,000) – both cards — are NOW available fur purchase in CCP Box Office (Tuesdays to Saturdays, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, with no lunch break), Individual tickets of the films to follow.

Just for July 15 (Sunday), since there’s the ongoing Virgin Labfest at the CCP, the CCP Box Office will be opened and Cinemalaya festival passes may be purchased. And then it will open again from Tuesdays to Saturdays only (the rest of July), until the start of the Cinemalaya week in August.

2. Available also in TICKET WORLD (aside from CCP Box Office) is the ticketed One Day Pass (non-card). These are 4 or 5 single tickets with screenings,shown on the same date of your choice. As we post this on July 7, 2018, tickets via Ticket World are NOT YET available for purchase (to be announced).

3. TICKET WORLD Outlets will be announced on a separate post on this page.

4. Ayala screening tickets will be available for sale in Ayala Cinema Ticket Booths and via www.sureseats.com (date of start of purchase will be announced)

5. The One-Day Pass is already discounted (as a package cost), and so, if a STUDENT would like to avail it, he/she will pay the SAME amount (no student discount).


KUNG PAANO HINIHINTAY ANG DAPITHAPON (WAITING FOR SUNSET)
Directed by Carlo Enciso Catu

Logline: “An old unmarried couple breaks the monotony of their daily lives when the woman’s estranged husband reaches out to them, seeking reconciliation and forgiveness.”

Synopsis: “Unmarried couple Teresa and Celso try survive their mundane elderly life. On the night of their anniversary, they receive a phone call from Benedicto, Teresa’s estranged husband who is quite ill and needs someone to look after him. Going out of their way to take care of Benedicto, they encourage him to seek treatment and live the remaining days of his life. However, their son Chito can’t forgive. On the twilight of their days, how do they wait for the sun to set?”

Cast: Dante Rivero, Menggie Cobarrubias, and Perla Bautista, with Romnick Sarmenta, Che Ramos

Genre: Drama


PAN DE SALAWAL (THE SWEET TASTE OF SALTED BREAD AND UNDIES)
Directed by Che Espiritu

Logline: “A wandering girl who violently hurts the sick to heal them brings miracles to an ill-striken neighborhood.”

Synopsis: “Aguy, a 10-year old palaboy, arrives in an ill-stricken neighborhood beside the Manila Railroad, where she meets a lonely panadero suffering from chronic kidney stones and wants nothing but to die, a barber with severe pasma, a Carinosa folk-dancer paralyzed by stroke, and a macho meat vendor with tumor in his breast. With her gift of healing, the the whole neighborhood begins to experience life again. While Aguy is able to heal the sick neighbors, for some reason, she cannot heal Sal. To heal him, she must inflict the most agoizing pain.”

Cast: Bodjie Pascua, Miel Espinosa, Madeleine Nicolas, Anna Luna, Felix Roco, Soliman Cruz, Ian Lomongo, Ruby Ruiz, JM Salvado, Lorenzo Aguila

Genre: Drama


ML
Directed by BENEDICTO MIQUE, JR.

Logline: “Three teenagers get more than what they bargained for when they learn about the dark days of Martial Law straight from an old retired soldier.”

Synopsis: “Confronted by a frustrated History professor, Carlo sets out to prove that Martial Law wasn’t all that bad and looks for someone who lived through that period to tell the tale. He meets Colonel, an old recluse living alone in a ramshackle house in Carlo’s neighborhood. With his best friend Jaze and girlfriend Pats, Carlo visits the old man to interview him about what truly happened during the Marcos regime – a visit that may put the lives of the three teenagers in danger. To truly learn about the horrors of Martial Law, do teenagers today have to pay the ultimate price?”

Cast: Eddie Garcia, Tony Labrusca, Liane Valentino, Henz Villaraiz, Jojit Lorenzo, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, Chanel Latorre, Chrome Cosio, Richard Manabat, Maritess Joaquin, Kino Rementilla, Jindric Macapagal, Rein Adriano, Khalifa Floresta, Mila Talagtag

Genre: Suspense Thriller


THE LOOKOUT
Directed by Afi Africa

Logline: “A gay hired killer has a score to settle from his past.”

Synopsis: “Lester Quiambao is a gay hired killer, whose abusive relationships in childhood propels him into a life of crime and depravity, and compels him to betray Travis Concepcion, the man he loves, in order to exact his revenge.”

Cast: Andres Vasquez, Jay Garcia, Elle Ramirez, with Yayo Aguilar, Rez Cortez, Efren Reyes, Alvin Fortuna, Jeffrey Santos, Benedict Campos, Aries Go, Lharby Policarpio, Jemina Sy, Nourish Icon Lapuz, Xenia Barrameda, Dennis Coronel Macalintal, Ahwel Paz, Mon Gualvez

Genre: Psycho-Drama


MUSMOS NA SUMIBOL SA GUBAT NG DIGMA (UNLESS THE WATER IS SAFER THAN THE LAND)
Directed by Iar Lionel Benjamin Arondaing

Logline: “With the political unrest in Mindanao and the Maranao culture of rido, children live through the dangers and consequences of war.”

Synopsis: “Amid the conflict between their families and the chaos in Mindanao, two young Muslims cross paths and find love, happiness and friendship when they spend seven days in the middle of the forest.”

Cast: Junyka Sigrid Santarin, JM Salvado, Star Orjaliza, Jun Salvado Jr., Romerico Jangad, Darril Ampongan, Haide Movero

Genre: Social Drama


MAMANG
Directed by Denise O’Hara

Logline: “An old woman struggles against senility to be with her son.”

Synopsis: “Already in the twilight of her life, Mamang struggles to fight senility and dementia so she can live with her only living son Ferdie. But the more she struggles, the more her condition worsens until she is literally haunted by the ghosts of her past. She battles to drive them away from her house, and in her mind, and starts re-living her past – her marriage, her childhood, and everything else in between. In the end, she is forced to make a decision between staying sane or letting her mind go.”

Cast: Celeste Legaspi, Ketchup Eusebio, Peewee O’Hara, Alex Medina, Gio Gahol, Elora Españo, Paolo O’Hara

Genre: Comedy, Drama


KUYA WES
Directed by Jay Mayo

Logline: “A timid and earnest remittance clerk falls in love with his regular customer.”

Synopsis: “Kuya Wes, a timid remittance clerk, feels like he does not exist, except when he is working at the remittance center. He is mostly ignored by his younger brother Raf and his family. His days are only brightened when his customer Erika comes in every month. One day, his life changes as Erika’s overseas husband leaves her. Wes decides to help her from his own pocket. His “relationship” with Erika and his friction with Raf starts to change him.”

Cast: Ogie Alcasid, Ina Raymundo, Moi Bien, Alex Medina, Karen Gaerlan

Genre: Comedy


SCHOOL SERVICE
Directed by Louie Ignacio

Logline: “A young girl is taken against her will from the province by a small-time syndicate and becomes a beggar in Manila.”

Synopsis: “Maya, an eight-year old student from a remote province, is walking home from school when the school service stops to her to ask for directions. In return for Maya’s help, the woman in the school service offers to take her home, and Maya agrees. To Maya’s horror, the service doesn’t stop at her place. Maya finds herself hours and hours away from home. She becomes the latest victim of the “school service.”

Cast: Aiai delas Alas, Joel Lamangan, Celine Juan, Therese Malvar, Felixia Dizon, Joe Gruta, Kenken Nuyad, Kevin Sagra, Santino Oquendo, Ace Café

Genre: Social Drama


LIWAY
Directed by Kip Oebanda

Logline: “A young mother uses storytelling to protect her child from the reality of growing up inside the prison and the difficult life she has endured.”

Synopsis: “Dakip lives with his parents Day and Ric inside Camp Delgado, a makeshift prison inside a military camp for both rebels and criminals. Given their circumstances, Day does her best to shelter the child from the harsh realities of their life. She uses storytelling about an enchantress named Liway, as well as songs and imagination, to help ensure that her boy is free from trauma. At the tail end of the Martial Law, Day’s own dark past catches up on her and the lives of the detainees become increasingly difficult. She is confronted with the cruel possibility that the best interest of her child means never seeing her again. This is based on a true story.”

Cast: Glaiza de Castro, Dominic Roco, Kenken Nuyad, Sue Prado, Soliman Cruz, Joel Saracho, Paolo O’Hara, Ebong Joson, Nico Antonio, Gerry Cornejo, Diana Alferez, Julie Bautista, Pau Benitez, Liway Gabo, She Maala, Renante Bustamante

Genre: Drama


DISTANCE
Directed by Perci Intalan

Logline: “When a woman returns to the family that she abandoned five years ago, everyone struggles to stay civil, not to reopen old wounds, and stay together even though a secret from the past threatens to always keep them apart.”

Synopsis: “Liza is still drowning in grief from losing the love of her life when she receives a visit from the most unlikely person — her husband who she left five years ago. With no questions asked and no conditions, Anton invites her back to his and their two children’s lives.”

Cast: Iza Calzado, Nonie Buencamino, Therese Malvar, Alessandra Malonzo, Adrianna So, Max Eigenmann, Lhian Khey Gimeno, Elia Maria Norelle Ilano, Erlinda Villalobos, Billy Seño, Tanya Gomez, Cherry Malvar, Myla Monido, Mailes Kanapi, Matt Daclan, Timothy Castillo

Genre: Drama


SHORTS A:

JODILERKS DELA CRUZ, EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH
Directed by Carlo Francisco Manatad

Logline: “A gas station attendant is on her last day of duty.”

Synopsis: “Jodilerks has been quietly and diligently working as a gas station attendant for a very long time. Tonight is her final shift, and she has decided to sign off in, quite frankly, outrageous fashion.”

NANGUNGUPAHAN (WHO RENTS THERE NOW?)
Directed by Glenn Barit

Logline: “The interwoven lives of people meet when they occupy a single room of an apartment through different points in time.”

Synopsis: “‘Nangungupahan’ follows the different lives of people who occupy a room of an apartment through different points in time. The room may mean differently to each occupant; and by overlapping these timelines, we gain insight about our shared space and history, as well as the bigger structures outside that affect us.”

SA SAIYANG ISLA (IN HIS ISLAND)
Directed by Christian Candelaria

Logline: “A young boy struggling with his identity finds solace in his dream of becoming a mermaid.”

Synopsis: “Set in a small fishing community that struggles amidst an oil spill, a pre-pubescent and cheerful young boy named Dinggoy struggles with his identity and finds comfort in his dreams of becoming a mermaid. The film tackles childhood identity struggles and parental challenges that come with caring for a gender non-conforming child.”

SI ASTRI MAKA SI TAMBULAH (ASTRI AND TAMBULAH)
Directed by Xeph Suarez

Logline: “A Badjao transwoman is forced to abandon her lover to marry a woman betrothed to her from birth.”

Synopsis: “Astri is a 16-year-old transwoman who is in a relationship with 17-year-old Tambulah. Although it is an unusual sight in the community where they live, nobody bothers them. Subsisting on the coins people throw at them when they perform their traditional dance at the sea, everything seems perfect except that Astri has to marry a woman she hardly known as part of the Badjao traditions and a pach made long ago.”

LOGRO
Directed by Kani Villaflor

Logline: “Living in a society where people limit his world, Bruno decides to take the risk and go for what he wants instead of settling for what people allow him to be.”

Synopsis: “Bruno, a little person, earns a living by working in a dingy restaurant. Dissatisfied with his work, salary and work treatment, he joins an underground fight club to earn his way to the prize money, in the hopes of reaching his aspirations.”

Cinemalaya announces 2018 short film finalists; grand prize winner gets P150k

Cinemalaya Foundation Inc. has announced the Short Film Category finalists of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival 2018.

The 10 finalists are the following:

  1. Logro by Kani Villaflor
  2. Si Astri Maka Si Tambulah by Xeph Suarez
  3. Babylon by Keith Deligero
  4. Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month by Carlo Francisco Manatad
  5. Sa Saíyang Islá (In His Island) by Christian Candelaria
  6. You, Me and Mr. Wiggles by Jav Velasco
  7. Nangungupahan by Glenn Barit
  8. Kiko by Jojo Driz
  9. Siyudad Sa Bulawan (City of Gold) by Jarell Serencio and Olivia Ranido
  10. Yakap by Mika Fabella

Out of over 100 submitted entries, the top 10 finalists were selected by the committee composed of Teddy Co, Nick Deocampo, Joel Ruiz, Tara Illenberger and Eduardo Roy, Jr.

The screening of the short feature film finalists will be part of the film festival on August 3 to 12, 2018 at various CCP venues and select Ayala cinemas.

The best short feature film will be awarded a cash prize of Php 150,000 and a Balanghai trophy during the Awards Night on August 12, 2018, at the CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater).

READ MORE: See last year’s winners here.

Cinemalaya Turns 14

On its 14th year, this all-digital film competition aims to discover, encourage, and support the cinematic works of Filipino filmmakers that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity. It is a project of the Cinemalaya Foundation, Inc. in partnership with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

The Cinemalaya Foundation was established for the following purposes: to help develop and support the production of cinematic works of Filipino independent filmmakers that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity; to discover, encourage, support, train and recognize gifted Filipino independent filmmakers; to promote Filipino independent films locally and internationally; and to establish a network for exchange, communication, and cooperation among members of the independent film sector.

Cinemalaya 2018 short feature finalists