Aljur Abrenica, Alvin Anson star in Ato Bautista’s ‘Expressway’

A syndicate old-timer named Ben (Alvin Anson) needs to do one last assignment before the boss he works for grants him his much delayed retirement. Assigned to be his partner is the neophyte Morris (Aljur Abrenica), a trigger-happy, sadist who yearns to impress the syndicate boss. For Ben, this last assignment turns out to be a journey of introspection, self-healing and redemption. With this awakening, he takes it upon himself to pull Morris out of the eventual hell-of-a-life he says he has lived as a hitman.

Actors Alvin and Aljur talked about their passion for their characters and this film in a recent interview. Alvin shares, “Very personal kasi sa akin ‘tong movie because Direk Ato offered this film to the late Rudy Fernandez… I’m very close to Kuya Daboy [and] I’ve done a lot of films with him.” On the other hand, Aljur’s fans will see his daring side as he also takes part in a risqué scene in the film. Staying true to his craft, Aljur goes deeper into his role. “Before I did this film, may konting background na ko sa pagiging isang killer,” he says. “Nag-research ako kung paano siya nasanay kasi wala naman pinanganak na ganun agad yung kayang gawin.”

EXPRESSWAY also stars RK Bagatsing, Kiko Matos, Inez Bernardo, Japo Parcero, Arpee Bautista, and Jim Libiran.

The 2nd Sinag Maynila Film Festival will run from April 21 to 26, 2016. For more updates, log on to, on Facebook via SinagMaynila, Twitter and Instagram via @sinagmaynila.

The roster of SMFF 2016 films also includes MRS. by Adolf Alix Jr., DYAMPER by Mes De Guzman, T.P.O. by Jay Altarejos, and LILA by Gino M. Santos.

Mara Lopez plays battered wife in Jay Altarejos’ ‘T.P.O.’

T.P.O. tells the story of Miguel (Oliver Aquino), an abusive husband to TERESA, a former town-beauty queen (Mara Lopez).  They have an eight-year old son, JR (Micko Laurente).  Their small family lives with Miguel’s parents (Menggie Cobarrubias and Dexter Doria). The family is shattered by the vicious cycle of domestic abuse.

After a night of beating,  Teresa, goaded by a friend (Yayo Aguila), seeks TPO (Temporary Protection Order) from the court. TPO is a legal remedy that a woman can avail of  under Republic Act  9262 (Violence Against Women and Children Law) to protect her and her child against anyone harming them. Teresa is granted the TPO against Miguel. But in this legal tug-of-war of familial rights, their son, JR, is ignored. Until, he shows aggression in school. But Miguel’s parents coax Miguel to file for Child Custody. Just like our legal system, the film slowly unravels their story. 

TPO is a cautionary tale on domestic abuse that examines the lives of a small family victimised by it.  The director employs a static-cinema approach in a non-linear narrative.  TPO is his second film on his trilogy about domestic abuse.

“My film that will be shown during the festival would be my third attempt,” Direk Jay reveals. “I’ve shot something, I have a story in my mind, [but] when I saw some of the footage, they’re so experimental that it is not the requirement of the festival, so three times nabugbog sa pelikula ko pero iba’t ibang atake.”

The character of Mara is abused emotionally, physically, and mentally. “It was pretty challenging. I’m really glad that Direk Jay Altarejos talagang natulungan niya ko sa mga eksena,” she shares. “The nice thing about this film is that maganda siya para sa mga kababaihan na takot magsalita, takot lumaban… I hope mabigyan sila ng courage to stand up for their rights.”

T.P.O. also stars Micko Laurente, Menggie Cobarrubias, and Lui Manansala.

The 2nd Sinag Maynila Film Festival will run from April 21 to 26, 2016 in select SM Cinemas. For more updates, log on to, on Facebook via SinagMaynila, Twitter and Instagram via @sinagmaynila.

The roster of SMFF 2016 films also includes EXPRESSWAY by Ato Bautista, LILA by Gino M. Santos, DYAMPER by Mes De Guzman, and MRS. by Adolf Alix Jr.

Conceptualized and helmed by CEO and Founder Wilson Tieng, together with world-renowned and internationally acclaimed film director Brillante Mendoza, Sinag Maynila gives grants to independent filmmakers so they can develop their individual material to a full-length film for public exhibition. Five chosen filmmakers closely collaborated with Tieng and Mendoza. This collaboration resulted in stories that reflect the Filipino culture while illustrating messages that will resonate globally.

GUIDE: Sinag Maynila Independent Film Festival 2016

Now in its second year, Sinag Maynila Independent Film Festival 2016 will run from April 21 to 26 at the following cinemas: SM North Edsa, SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, SM Aura, and SM Manila.  Join the Facebook event here.

Screening Schedules

OPENING FILM: The festival will have its opening ceremony at the Samsung Hall of SM Aura Premiere on April 21, Thursday, at 5:00 PM. This will be followed by the screening of the 2015 documentary Human by French environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

GABI NG PARANGAL: The Awards Night is set on April 24, Sunday, 6:00 PM, also at the Samsung Hall of SM Aura Premiere. The festival jury is headed by award-winning filmmaker Lav Diaz.

CLOSING FILM: Mike van Diem’s 2015 romantic comedy film The Surprise will serve as the festival’s closing film on April 26, Thursday, 7:00 PM at SM Megamall Cinema 1.

Click on the image to view the complete screening schedules in high resolution. You may print this for your plotting guidance.


Since its successful inauguration last March 2015, the first set of featured films have debuted in various international film festivals. “The exposure of the filmmakers in other countries brings pride and honor to Sinag Maynila and to the Filipino Filmmakers,” says Festival Director Brillante Mendoza. As we welcome the new year, the independent film festival Sinag Maynila already has a line-up of films to be premiered by April 2016.

Conceptualized and helmed by its CEO and Founder Wilson Tieng, together with world-renowned and internationally acclaimed film director Brillante Mendoza, Sinag Maynila gives grants to independent filmmakers so they can develop their individual material to a full-length film for public exhibition. For 2016, the festival has been opened to any Filipino independent filmmaker who wish to apply for a film grant.

Short Film Finalists

The short film entries will be screened at SM Megamall on April 23 and 24 (Saturday and Sunday). Entries included in each of the two sets will be listed here later:

  1. Ang Kapinunan Kan Mga Alon Sa Danay (Where The Lake’s Ripple Begin) – Jennifer Lyn Romano
  2. Ang Piyeta (The Pieta) – Maestro Mark Sherwin Marquez
  3. Apo – Joshua Roque
  4. Apuhap – Raf Evangelista
  5. Fructus Ventris (Fruit Of Her Womb) – Wence Albert R. Trajano & Elton James Marcelo
  6. Hide Post – Envangello Cyedel Dela Pena
  7. Ilog Waga – Jae-re Louise Liwanag
  8. Ina Namin (Our Mother) – Brian Spencer Reyes
  9. Indio – Leahlou D. Abellanosa
  10. Neon – Rod Michael Tumbaga
  11. Nino – Ferdinand Mesias & Ronyel Compra
  12. Plus Sign – Nikko Paciben
  13. The Foreseeing – Daniel Morial & Jeth Ordeniza

Samsung Cinephone Finalists

  1. 99% – John Paolo S. Barcena
  2. Changing Roads – Angela Andres & Freana Garcia
  3. Espayb – Ebone Cimafranca, Jacquiline Hidalgo, Jessica Rubete & Juselle Roble
  4. Google Map – Chaira Mae Prado
  5. In a Dog’s Eyes – Michaela Veronica B. Padora
  6. Lapis – Partick Joseph C. Leano
  7. Litrato ng Nakaraan – Angelika Deofilo, Danilo Garcia & Samantha Mariano
  8. Tapat Si Tatay – Klaire Marie Zubiri & Faye Isabel Estrada
  9. Walang Wi-fi sa Dagat – Paul Arrenze Dionela

Feature Film Finalists

Five chosen filmmakers closely collaborated with Tieng and Mendoza. This collaboration resulted in stories that reflect the Filipino culture while illustrating messages that will resonate globally.

sinag maynila 2016 full-length feature films

Adolf Alix JrMRS. by Adolf Alix Jr.

Starring: Elizabeth Oropesa, Lotlot de Leon, Rosanna Roces, Anita Linda, Mark Herras.

70-year-old Virginia shares the old ancestral house with Delia, her ever-loyal maid. Delia is marrying her long-time boyfriend, Rene, and tearfully confides to Virginia that she wants to go home to her parents in the province to start a new family life with him. Haunted by a past that Virginia tries to conquer—her only son Sonny Boy who disappeared years ago, what follows shows a portrait of a woman and a mother trying to juggle the sad realities of life in a cycle of life and death.

Read more: Elizabeth Oropesa, Lotlot de Leon topbill Adolf Alix Jr.’s ‘Mrs.’

Ato BautistaEXPRESSWAY by Ato Bautista

Starring: Alvin Anson, Aljur Abrenica, RK Bagatsing, Kiko Matos, Inez Bernardo, Japo Parcero, Arpee Bautista, Jim Libiran.

A syndicate old-timer named Ben needs to do one last assignment before the boss he works for grants him his much delayed retirement. Assigned to be his partner is the neophyte Morris, a trigger-happy, sadist who yearns to impress the syndicate boss. For Ben, this last assignment turns out to be a journey of introspection, self-healing and redemption. With this awakening, he takes it upon himself to pull Morris out of the eventual hell-of-a-life he says he has lived as a hitman.

Read more: Aljur Abrenica, Alvin Anson star in Ato Bautista’s ‘Expressway’

Mes De GuzmanDYAMPER by Mes De Guzman

Starring: Carlo Aquino, Alchris Galura, Tim Mabalot, Kristofer King, Liza Dino-Seguerra, Debbie Garcia.

Three friends wait along Dalton Pass every dawn to jump at the back of rice delivery trucks to steal the goods and sell it at the wet market as their means of income. One of them accidentally gets a pack of drugs in one of the trucks they jumped and finds themselves in jeopardy when its owners track them down to retrieve the stash, and gives them a chance to get off the hook by means of taking on a risky mission.

Read more: Mes De Guzman’s ‘Dyamper’ depicts real-life struggle in Nueva Vizcaya

Jay AltarejosT.P.O. by Joselito Altarejos

Starring: Oliver Aquino, Mara Lopez, Micko Laurente, Menggie Cobarrubias, Lui Manansala.

T.P.O. tells the story of Miguel, an abusive husband to Teresa, a former town-beauty queen. They have an eight-year old son, JR. Their small family lives with Miguel’s parents. The family is shattered by the vicious cycle of domestic abuse. Just like our legal system, the film slowly unravels their story. 

Read more: Mara Lopez plays battered wife in Jay Altarejos’ ‘T.P.O.’

Gino SantosLILA by Gino Santos

Starring: Janine Gutierrez, Enchong Dee, Sherry Alingod, Migs Cuaderno.

Jess is a young woman running from her past and moves into the house of a warmhearted landlady. She finds a diary in her room that belonged to an old tenant. As days pass, strange occurrences ensue and the diary’s words take an eerie turn when Jess finds herself in the middle of a malevolent turn of events from a dark past not entirely her own.

Read more: Janine Gutierrez, Enchong Dee escape dark past in Gino M. Santos’ ‘Lila’

Ticket Rates

The rate for the tickets depends on participating SM Cinemas (SM North EDSA, SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, SM Aura Premiere, and SM Manila).

Festival passes can be purchased through SM Cinema’s E-Plus outlets. For P699, you can have a limited edition Sinag Maynila 2016 E-Plus card and access to all five feature-length entries, opening film, closing film, a film appreciation course and one movie from Blink.

For more updates, look for Sinag Maynila on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

MOVIE REVIEW: Tandem (2015)

Tandem begins with a man ready to shoot a dog point blank. He dons a fierce look which makes the tension tighter and lets the audience anticipate the thriller that is yet to unfold. As another man approaches, it gives a first look at the main characters: two men who wear mask, hides guns in their pockets, and ride motorcycles to rob unsuspecting victims. They are criminals, they are partners, but ultimately they are brothers. The story later on climaxes in that same place, nighttime, with the two brothers confronting each other with the same intention to shoot point blank.

While Tandem largely looks into the corrupt systems in the country, it further explores the core of the lives of those brothers—Roman (Nico Antonio) and Rex (JM De Guzman)—who work as partners in plying the metro to snatch purses, cellphones and bags. Their relationship as siblings are oftentimes tested by the circumstances they get into. They resort to low-level criminal acts and eventually end up concocting bigger plans in their desperate attempt to live a better life. Despite the risk, they take these activities as a part of their system.

Halfway through the story, two corrupt policemen are introduced: Alba (Alan Paule) and Lucero (Paolo O’Hara). They are frequently paid off by the two brothers in exchange of making sure that the latter does not get arrested whenever they get into trouble. When a robbery on a local construction site has gone awry and they are blackmailed by Alba and Lucero, no other choice becomes available for Roman and Rex but to turn themselves into hitmen to a high-ranking officer. As everything does not go smooth as planned and in the fear of getting caught by the police, the two brothers go into hiding only to find themselves inside their very own sphere of chaos.

The women in their lives heavily influence their disposition. Roman’s wife Cha (Rochelle Pangilinan) worries for the safety of his husband. She bears their first child and wants the best for their family’s future. On the other hand, Nadine (Elora Españo) impacts Rex life as his on-and-off girlfriend who gives pleasure even if she is not up for any commitment. Towards the end, he wants her to come with them in their escape. In the same manner that they are focused in their respective romantic relationships, they also give importance to their brotherly love towards each other, noting that one cannot do his acts without the other. The mutual understanding and reliance are founded on something beyond familial bond. It could have gone deeper into what ties them together but all the same it looks fine.

In a number of scenes, though, Tandem seems to lack a tight grasp when it comes to executing believable circumstances, consequently making it hard to rely on its storytelling. Inasmuch as it wants to show the harsh, prevalent world of robbery, it misses out on details that would be hard to get attached with. In a couple of instances, small-time crimes are immediately reported by TV news programs with their reporters in the scene of the crime right away, together with the victims (of this small-time crimes just so we could emphasize) who are in turn very much handy for any interview. There is even this scene where a lady is withdrawing from a darkly-lit ATM. The brothers in their motorcycle are assessing how much they could get from the lady as they wait for the perfect timing for a hold-up. Out of the blue, a kid, presumably her child, goes out of a nearby car to embrace her from the back. This is abruptly followed by a man, presumably her husband, who goes out of that car as well without even minding that somebody should have stayed there. The whole point of that “family reunion” is laughable but it gives a glimpse of the light-heartedness of the two brothers when they just pass it off and drive away. It could be that they have a soft spot but the acts that follow are too heavy to support this.

For something that has the objective of providing a reasonably good action film to the Filipino audience, Tandem succeeds in putting forward a noir melodrama that shows a reality that is neither exploitative nor miscalculated. JM De Guzman renders an effective performance that does not merely go along his steaming sex scenes with Elora Españo. As for Nico Antonio, he has always been a reliable actor that delivers more than what is needed. He definitely deserves to have more lead roles after this one. Together, De Guzman and Antonio make a perfect tandem that speaks louder and is more meaningful than the title itself.

The chemistry between the two brothers is there for the audience to absorb their miseries and motivations. It would have worked better, though, if this is delved further into and if it has pushed the boundaries that the limited runtime begs off. There is that pinch of slowness as far as the pacing of writer Zig Marasigan’s screenplay is concerned, right from the beginning up to its first hour mark when the drive has finally revved up but it has still managed to maintain a provocative and insightful suspense. Richer than his stint in last year’s crime anthology film Bang Bang Alley, director King Palisoc has showcased how to keep the low tone consistent while ensuring a breezy atmosphere that alternately amuses and frightens. The nooks and crannies of the metro are craftily painted by Pong Ignacio with the masterful editing of Benjamin Tolentino.

Not to mention, Tandem does not particularly make any statement as to whether the crimes depicted or such environment should be patronized; it just stays true to its intention to tell its story which is heavily centered on the relationship between Roman and Rex in the midst of a chaotic setting. In every decision that these characters make, there is an underlying reason that evidently presents the truth in how a Filipino everyman lives. As to whether the reasons are good or bad, it is not an issue as long as it observantly peeks into such slice of life with honesty: a painful reality only to be swallowed unless acted upon. With characters that represent our kind of people, Tandem upholds itself with sincerity and that is where it stands remarkably.

Tandem will be screened at the 2015 Metro Manila Film Festival – New Wave from December 17 to 24 at SM Megamall, Glorietta 4 and Robinsons Place Manila.

121715 Tandem poster

GUIDE: Metro Manila Film Festival 2015

Now on its 41st year, the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) offers 8 full-length feature films. As a rule, no foreign films are shown in Philippine cinemas and theaters in order to showcase locally produced films. However, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will still be shown in IMAX theaters during the film festival.

This annual event is organized by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). The film festival runs from December 25, 2015 until first week of January 7, 2016.

The following are the official entries to MMFF 2015:


all you need is pag-ibig mmff posterRated PG, 116 mins.
Starring: Kris Aquino, Derek Ramsay, Jodi Sta. Maria, Ian Veneracion, Kim Chiu, Xian Lim, Bimby Aquino Yap
Directed by Antoinette Jadaone
Studios: Star Cinema, K Productions

To remind everyone how inspiring it is to love and to feel loved, the powerhouse ensemble – Kris Aquino, Derek Ramsay, Kim Chiu, Xian Lim, Jodi Sta. Maria, Ian Veneracion, Nova Villa, Ronaldo Valdez, Pokwang, James “Bimby” Yap, and Julia and Talia Concio – join forces for this 2015 Metro Manila Film Fest entry. A heartwarming romantic and family movie, “All You Need Is Pag-ibig” explores and celebrates the complexity of human relationships in all their forms. The movie features varied forms of love: family love, sibling love, puppy love, unrequited love, ruined love, prospering love, in denial love, jaded love, and true love, among others. After all, what the world needs now is love.


beauty and the bestie mmff posterRated PG, 116 mins.
Starring: Vice Ganda, Coco Martin, James Reid, Nadine Lustre, Ellen Adarna, Marco Antonio Masa, Alonzo Muhlach, Isabel Oli, Karla Estrada
Directed by Wenn V. Deramas
Studios: Star Cinema, Viva Films

Estranged best friends Ericka and Emman, played by Vice Ganda and Coco Martin, respectively, will be “reunited” for the latter’s special mission as a spy agent. Emman must convince Ericka to pretend as the missing beauty pageant contestant Natalia Thalia who got abducted during her stay in the country. This is to keep the country safe from the wrath of Natalia Thalia’s father, who is capable of annihilating the entire Philippines. Of course, the hit tandem of James Reid and Nadine Lustre is also there to complete the fun and kilig.


122515 Buy Now Die Later posterRated PG, 126 mins.
Starring: Alex Gonzaga, Vhong Navarro, TJ Trinidad, Rayver Cruz, John Lapus, Janine Gutierrez, Lotlot de Leon, Jojit Lorenzo, Elora Españo, Paolo ‘O Hara, Kiki Baento
Directed by: Randolph Longjas
Studio: Quantum Films

The film is about a compendium of five interrelated stories brought together by the proprietor of a curio shop selling unusual items. Santi (portrayed by TJ Trinidad), who says the role is kind of demonic. Each of the character’s story is weaved around the five senses – sense of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste.


122515 Haunted MansionRated PG, 100 mins.
Starring: Marlo Mortel, Janella Salvador, Jerome Ponce, Sharlene San Pedro, Iza Calzado, LJ Reyes, Janice de Belen, Dominic Ochoa, Ingrid dela Paz, Joem Bascon, Allan Paule, Eliza Pineda, Phytos Ramirez, Archie Adamos, Devon Seron, Paulo Gumabao, Lilet, Sue Prado, Vangie Labalan
Directed by: Jun Lana
Studio: Regal Entertainment

A group of high school students spends the night in an old mansion. When they learn that the house is haunted, they set to look out for ghosts just for fun, but they find out soon enough that the urban legends are real.


122515 Honor Thy Father posterRated R-13, 105 mins.
Starring: John Lloyd Cruz, Meryll Soriano, Khalil Ramos, Tirso Cruz III, Yayo Aguila, Dan Fernandez, Krystal Brimner, Perla Bautista, Dalin Sarmiento, William Martinez, Lander Vera Perez, Boom Labrusca
Directed by: Erik Matti
Studio: Reality Entertainment

A family is caught in a financial ruin after being involved in a ponzi scheme.

MY BEBE LOVE: #KiligPaMore

my bebe love kiligpamore posterRated PG, 107 mins.
Starring: Vic Sotto, Ai-Ai delas Alas, Alden Richards, Maine Mendoza, Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, Valeen Montenegro, Paolo Ballesteros, Louise delos Reyes, Yassi Pressman, Lovi Poe, Ryzza Mae Dizon
Studios: GMA Films, OctoArts Films, M-ZET TV Production, APT Entertainment, MEDA Productions

Dondi (Alden Richards) is a nerd and an obedient nephew to his aunt Cora (Ai-Ai de las Alas) who makes decisions for him. Meanwhile, Anna (Maine Mendoza) is a stubborn and rebellious girl who seeks the attention of her father Vito (Vic Sotto). Dondi and Anna cross path and their different personalities collide. They eventually fall in love with each other and solve their own problems. Vito and Cora are bitter business competitors and because of their rivalry, they disapproved the romantic relationship between Dondi and Anna.


nilalang mmff posterRated R-16, 90 mins.
Starring: Cesar Montano, Maria Ozawa, Meg Imperial, Yam Concepcion, Roxanne Barcelo, Troy Montero, Pocholo Barretto, Kiko Matos, Dido de la Paz, Aubrey Miles
Directed by: Pedring Lopez
Studio: Haunted Towers Pictures, Inc.

Nilalang tackles the underbelly of corrupt Philippine cops with the Japanese ‘Yakuza’ and its links to a centuries’ old curse that may be responsible for the spate of serial killings happening in Manila.


122515 Walang Forever posterRated PG, 124 mins.
Starring: Jennylyn Mercado, Jericho Rosales, Lorna Tolentino, Matet de Leon, Jerald Napoles, Carlo Aquino
Directed by: Dan Villegas
Studio: Quantum Films

Mia, a celebrated writer of romantic-comedy films, is at a turning point in her life which makes it difficult for her to believe that love could last. Everything comes to a head when Ethan returns, only for her to find out that he has become a cynic of lasting love because she broke his heart.

GUIDE: Danish Film Festival 2015

The first Danish Film Festival will run from December 9 to 13, 2015 at the Shang Cineplex, Shangri-la Plaza, Mandaluyong City. Admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets are distributed 30 minutes before each screening.

Come and see classic Danish films and other award-winning films that have boosted Denmark’s cultural impact to the world. This special event is made possible by the Embassy of Denmark in Manila.

Here is the screening schedule of Danish Film Festival 2015:

Danish Film Festival 2015 Screening Schedule

The following films from Denmark will be screened at the 1st Danish Film Festival at Shang:

A Family

A successful Danish family faces agonizing choices when its charismatic patriarch falls ill.

A Royal Affair

A young queen, who is married to an insane king, falls secretly in love with her physician – and together they start a revolution that changes a nation forever.


A grieving couple retreat to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.

Babette’s Feast

In a remote 19th Danish century village two sisters lead a rigid life centered around their father, the local minister, and their church. Both had opportunities to leave the village: one could have married a young army officer and the other, a French opera singer. Their father objected in each case and they spent their lives caring for him. Many years later – their father is now deceased – they take in French refugee, Babette Hersant, who agrees to work as their servant. After winning the lottery, Babette wants to repay the sisters for their kindness and offers to cook a French meal for them and their friends on the 100th anniversary of their father’s birth. It proves to be an eye-opening experience for everyone.


Just after WW2, an American takes a railway job in Germany, but finds his position politically sensitive with various people trying to use him.

In A Better World

The lives of two Danish families cross each other, and an extraordinary but risky friendship comes into bud. But loneliness, frailty and sorrow lie in wait.


Two brothers meet at their mother’s funeral, each in his way on a path of self-destruction, both haunted by a tragedy in their youth.

Terribly Happy

A thriller about a Copenhagen cop who moves to a small town after having a nervous breakdown.

The Experiment

The story of nurse Gert, who is appointed as headmistress of a special children’s home, owned by the Danish state in Greenland, 1951. The children’s home is intended to accommodate 16 carefully selected Greenlandic children, who have just come home after a year of civilization in Denmark. Now they are to be introduced into the Greenlandic community as role models. Gert, who lives alone and has no family, accepts the assignment with pride.

The Hunt (Jagten)

A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son’s custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.

The Substitute

6th Grade gets a new substitute teacher. She wants to train the class for an international competition in Paris. But something isn’t right. How is she able read kids’ minds? Why is she so mean? And how does she manage to convince everyone’s parents she is so great when the whole class knows she is really an alien?

Waltzing Regitze

Karl Åge and Regitze host a summer garden party for close friends, their son, and his family. Karl Åge is quiet, detached; Regitze is spirited, lively. He thinks back: love at first sight during the war, living together unmarried, her mother’s hunger strike when they won’t baptize their son. Regitze is passionate and forthright; she speaks her mind. He remembers her inviting a derelict for Christmas dinner, and the man shows up with five bashful friends. He recalls her taking on their son’s teacher when the man slaps the lad. He remembers her love of dancing and his fear that his social clumsiness might end their relationship. Now, in twilight, he has other things to face.

What No One Knows

In this political thriller, a young woman is found drowned on a winter night by the sea. The dead woman’s brother, Thomas, discovers that her death is connected to their father, now deceased, and his work in military intelligence. As Thomas digs deeper into the case his family is brought into sudden danger.

Worlds Apart

The daughter of a Jehovah’s Witness is forced to choose between religion and love when she falls for someone outside her faith.

WINNERS: SalaMindanaw International Film Festival 2015

SalaMindanaw International Film Festival has announced the winners of its third edition.

The following are the winners of SalaMindanaw 2015:

  • Golden Durian Prize for best Asian feature: Under Construction (Rubaiyat Hossain, Bangladesh)
    for reinvigorating the ‘woman question’ implanted in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s globalized contemporary imaginary
  • Jury Prize: Jalanan (Daniel Ziv, Indonesia)
    for its ambitious scope and critical and self-reflexive depiction of the musical lives of Jakarta’s street dwellers
  • Golden Durian Prize for best Asian short: Elegy (Yousef Kargar, Iran)
    for its poignant portrait of a man’s agonizing journey to find truths and answers
  • Golden Durian Prize for best Mindanao short: Sangil (Christian Alan Toring, Iligan)
    for its clever use of storytelling craft that arouses curiosity and introspection
  • Philippine Next Cinema Filmmaker of the Future Prize :
    Ruelo Lozendo

SalaMindanaw runs from November 18 to December 2, 2015 in the cities of General Santos and Cotabato, Philippines. Fore more information, visit the Facebook page of SalaMindanaw International Film Festival.

MOVIE REVIEW: Manang Biring (2015)

If there is just a single aspect that Carl Joseph Papa’s Manang Biring could take pride in, it has to be its brilliance in transporting its audience to a relatable landscape by means of a well-crafted story. It bagged the Best Film award at the recently concluded Cinema One Originals film festival most likely for its innovative response to the event’s theme “Kakaiba Ka Ba?” which pushes the envelopes in creating films that captivate and break grounds.

Manang Biring is a fascinating take on rotoscoped footages, which ultimately celebrates a rarity in Philippine cinema where a group of animators, led by Eru Petrasanta, trace over live footages and transform them, frame by frame, into a full-length feature animation. It is quite a feat to complete everything with details that go beyond the convention of animated films commonly marketed for children. It is able to create a world of its own: mostly silent but is amplified by such powerful characters that have their respective drives and motivations.

With an adult-centric story that tackles depressing issues, the result is breathtaking with scenes that are never dull albeit in black and white. The alluring musical score by Dino Parafina helps give the vibe that is too reminiscent of Papa’s endearing film Ang Di Paglimot ng mga Alaala which won the NETPAC Jury Prize for Best Feature at the 2014 QCinema International Film Festival.

Manang Biring movie 6

In March, along the sea of passersby and churchgoers in Quiapo, just outside the famous church, an old woman named Biring (Erlinda Villalobos) sells alternative medicines together with her friend Eva (Mailes Canapi). The temper of the old woman is tested by a guy who looks for a remedy for asthma only to end up complaining after hearing the rather costly price. In the absence of customers, the two women talk about Biring’s recent discovery that she has terminal cancer. This marks the struggle of the protagonist in front of the spectators: setting the expectation that with such condition, she would conquer hardships other than what she presently bears. Her imminent demise looms but it is too early to tell what will happens.

With no electricity in her house, Biring contents herself with a lamp that keeps her company before she goes to sleep at night. She looks into an old, faded mirror, she brushes her hair, all in the quiet of the night that she wallows in. As she falls to sleep, a grimly claw slowly snatches her. She dreams of looking down at herself in a grave somewhere far away from reality. Perchance it is a foreshadow of what is to come when a big owl swooshes behind her.

In April, Biring is woken up by the loud knocking of a mailman who is angrily looking for someone named Severina Macasaet. It is for Biring. Upon knowing that the recipient is an old woman, he tones down and apologizes for being pesky. He looks past the doorway to see glimpses of antiques inside the house. He then hands her a letter from her daughter Divina Ramirez. It is from Nita.

It is painful to hear Biring read the letter as her voice melts to that of Divina who relates life away from her mother. The music swoons as Divina or Nita tells Biring that she has been in Dubai for 10 years already with her two sons: JP and CJ. She plans to come home in December with her youngest, CJ, in order for their family to experience Christmas with Biring. The old woman is melancholic as she goes to the calendar to flip through the December sheet.

She agitatedly goes straight to her doctor (Lance Raymundo) and entreats the patients in the room to let her through. Tears fell from her eyes as she begs to be saved from her illness. She just wants to see her family in Christmas. She is wary that she does not have enough time but there is a growing desire inside her to overcome the situation. However, she easily gets lost in her reality when she seemingly hallucinates in that room where she sees a nurse who hands her a baby. This could be a lost memory of her giving birth to Nita wrapped in her delusions. She is drawn back by the doctor and they discuss several options such as having her breasts removed and undergoing chemotherapy. Biring is determined but the doctor is hesitant if the old woman’s body can still survive the procedures needed. A series of operation entails a large amount of money. Biring is unwavering; she knows she has to do something to get past Christmas.

After visiting the doctor, she goes to the cemetery to visit the grave of her husband Bienvenido. It is a short, touching visit that puts more emphasis to her loneliness.

In May, her head is covered as she has lost her hair as a result of chemotherapy. She still needs money to pay for the hospital bills. One day, she gets the idea of selling from Amanda Gonzales (Bea Benedicto), a young woman who sells Sociales beauty products. As Amanda explains the opportunities of joining the company as a member, she is lost back in the memory of hearing the news about her cancer metastasizing. Death is inevitable that she is frequented by its nearness. When she gets back to that instance, she orders a number of glutathione soaps which she later on sells with higher price.

In June, Biring is imagining a lot of things when she inspects her breast after bathing. She stares at herself in front of the mirror, looking at how she looks and what her breasts have become. She squeezes them and thinks of them being deformed more than their state. It could just have been an ordinary evening until she hears noise from the kitchen. With a toilet plunger in her defense and in the dark, she goes to the source of the clanging objects and discovers that there is a thief in her house. It is the mailman who has delivered Nita’s letter. Instead of reporting him to the police, Biring lets the thief eat dinner with her.

Manang Biring movie 5

His name is Terrence (Alchris Galura). He lives with his siblings and is orphaned by her mother who has died of cancer. He notices the breast of Biring and likens it to having been eaten by a zombie, bitten by a dog or dug through by a cat. There is a sudden connection between the two despite him trespassing and attempting to steal the antique furniture in Biring’s house. They make an agreement that he will help her sell the interior furnishings so she could raise more money. Eventually, this same guy would become like a son to her.

In July, Terrence treats Biring and Eva in a coffee shop in spite of Biring’s refusal to splurge money. Terrence insists and so they go inside that unfamiliar place where Biring yet again has a eureka moment. Accompanied by a jazzy score, they stage a scene where Biring fainted in the middle of the room and is rescued by a teenage drug dealer named Yohan (Patrick Sugui). Eva plays her wacky card as she steals the scene by acting out as Biring’s daughter. As the commotion grows, people surround them and this gives time for Terrence to take the small packages of drugs from Yohan’s bag. It is such a delight to see how this funny scene builds up into bringing laughter and cheer from the audience. We could not all agree with the criminal acts involved but seeing how the characters go to great lengths is still interesting.

In August, what follows is funnier: Terrence and Eva bring Biring to a night club. Their goal is to deal drugs to clubgoers who are mainly teenagers. Amidst the loud music and the sea of people, Biring is fixed into doing whatever it takes to beat her own deadline. Beginning with Biring and Eva’s awkward encounter with two young girls in the restroom, Biring is tagged as the “hottest lola in the bar” with hands from all corners asking her for packs of drugs.

Expectedly, she drowns in the setting and literally faints among the crowd. She is taken once again to her dreamland. There where the clouds hurriedly escapes from the skies, she sees the figure of a faceless woman crying before a grave. As she throws rocks, she is captured by a big owl that apparently represents her calling to the otherworld. She very well knows that her time is yet to come.

Manang Biring movie 15 Manang Biring movie 14

In September, she wakes up without remembering what has happened to her. There are glimpses of familiar faces of people close to her. She is in a hospital with Eva who then explains to her that the cancer has spread to her lungs. They are not supposed to talk about things that could make her anxious but she insists in learning what has happened to Terence. Upon knowing how he was ganged up, she tells Eva to give to Terence all her money, including her savings in a can of biscuit back home.

As Eva leaves, Biring is left to watch the television way past the curtains. The noontime TV program Showtime is on–the only time we get to see something in full color, something not animated, something from a different dimension. She watches attentively at the live competition where players dress up and act as famous people.

On their way home, they ride a taxi where Biring receives the radio announcer’s voice as if it is connecting to her, ultimately directly speaking to her and giving a warning that she would not make it until Christmas. She curses straight to the radio, which is tuned in to FM666, much to the surprise of Eva, Terrence and the driver. She asks how much money they have left and extends her desire to have electricity and Christmas decorations at home. Terence offers to make lanterns as Eva questions the intent of having a very early preparation for December. They end up agreeing on the decorations and food to prepare and who to invite among their respective families, while considering the expense to be taken from their savings.

Suddenly, Biring dishes her idea of looking for someone who looks exactly like her, someone who will study her and present herself as the mother of her child.

In October, they hold an audition where the fortunate one will win a reward of 20,000 pesos. Many women go to the screening but they are only surprised by the resemblance made possible by an old man named Jerry Cardenas who has shaved his moustache, tied his hair and dressed up like a woman.

In November, Biring and Jerry have planned out what to do come Christmas. He asks why her child left her but the only answer she was able to give is that it was her fault. He also asks if she would still face her visitors. He is worried that he won’t be able to do it. She insists on keeping the plan as she wants her family to have a happy Christmas. He offers returning the money to her if she would still make it, but she just lets it pass. She groans heavily on bed.

In December, there is excitement in the air as Terrence, Eva and Jerry (dressed up as Biring) wait for the arrival of Nita and CJ. The taxi arrives with Nita hesitating momentarily. She asks the driver to wait as she looks at the house and wonders why it is crowded. Her face is full of hesitation that it takes a few more seconds before she alights from the taxi together with her son. She is welcomed by the family and there is a long silence in the hug that follows between the mother and the daughter. Anything can happen right at that very moment. It is indeed an edge-of-the-seat experience looking at all the possibilities at hand, knowing that moving forward everything is possible and at any time the deceit could be realized.

Manang Biring movie 8

Nita looks up and sees that the window is open. Out of her sight, Biring watches in the dark, eavesdropping, grasping every little thing she could to taste the experience even from a distance. Merriment naturally grows downstairs with everyone smiling, laughing, talking to one another with such joy in their faces. It is a wonderful Christmas being celebrated by an equally wonder-filled family. Tone by tone, colors are faintly revealed on top of the animated characters.

But upstairs, there is silence–a nondescript silence that clothes an old woman in her wheelchair. She mightily shuts her senses from what is currently happening in her house that has once been an almost lifeless one. She goes to the door to close it. As she holds onto that one thing that separates her from her family, she blurts her greeting through the sincerest way she can muster: “Merry Christmas, Nita.”

It is heartbreaking to see the pain and the joy and the anxiety of those last second. It could be that Biring finally gets to meet the souls that would fetch her. From the opposite of her door, she hears a voice that calls upon her. It could be that of her daughter who finally realizes her mother’s presence upstair. It could be her last hope before she takes her final rest. It could be that happy ending we all deserve to witness and. It could be that final smile on Biring’s face as she receives the best gift she has long since waiting for. But we could only hope for the best as the end credit rolls.

Manang Biring’s voice sticks in one’s head as the protagonist and as a memorable film in itself. Sure enough, it leaves with such beautiful aftertaste in the mouth. The story could have finished right there but the effect it has is a lasting one–something that digs deep into one’s heart and crushes the soul, reflecting a kind of reality that is sad and true.

manang biring movie poster

WINNERS: Cinema One Originals Festival 2015

The Cinema One Originals film festival awards night is held at the Dolphy Theater Sunday, November 15.

Cinema One Originals 2015 Winners

Here’s the full list of winners of Cinema One Originals Festival 2015:

Best Film

  • WINNER: Manang Biring, Carl Joseph Papa
  • Baka Siguro Yata, Joel Ferrer
  • Bukod Kang Pinagpala, Sheron Dayoc
  • Dahling Nick, Sari Dalena
  • Dayang Asu, Bor Ocampo
  • Hamog, Ralston Jover
  • Mga Rebeldeng May Kaso, Raymond Red
  • Miss Bulalacao, Ara Chawdhury
  • The Comeback, Ivan Andrew Payawal

Jury Prize

  • WINNER: Hamog, Ralston Jover

Best Actress

  • WINNER: Therese Malvar, Hamog
  • Bangs Garcia, Baka Siguro Yata
  • Bing Pimentel, Bukod Kang Pinagpala
  • Erlinda Villalobos, Manang Biring
  • Kaye Abad, The Comeback

Best Actor

  • WINNER: Dino Pastrano, Baka Siguro Yata
  • Raymond Bagatsing, Dahling Nick
  • Ricky Davao, Dayang Asu
  • Russ Ligtas, Miss Bulalacao
  • Zaijan Jaranilla, Hamog

Best Screenplay

  • WINNER: Miss Bulalacao, Ara Chawdhury
  • Baka Siguro Yata, Joel Ferrer
  • Manang Biring, Carl Joseph Papa

Best Director

  • WINNER: Dayang Asu, Bor Ocampo
  • Baka Siguro Yata, Joel Ferrer
  • Bukod Kang Pinagpala, Sheron Dayoc
  • Dahling Nick, Sari Dalena
  • Hamog, Ralston Jover
  • Manang Biring, Carl Joseph Papa
  • Mga Rebeldeng May Kaso, Raymond Red
  • Miss Bulalacao, Ara Chawdhury
  • The Comeback, Ivan Andrew Payawal

Audience Choice

  • WINNER: Baka Siguro Yata, Joel Ferrer
  • Bukod Kang Pinagpala, Sheron Dayoc
  • Dahling Nick, Sari Dalena
  • Dayang Asu, Bor Ocampo
  • Hamog, Ralston Jover
  • Manang Biring, Carl Joseph Papa
  • Mga Rebeldeng May Kaso, Raymond Red
  • Miss Bulalacao, Ara Chawdhury
  • The Comeback, Ivan Andrew Payawal

Best Sound

  • WINNER: Bukod Kang Pinagpala (Jess Carlos)
  • Miss Bulalacao (James D’Lonsod, Vanya Fantonial, and Nicholas Varela)
  • Dayang Asu (Stephen Lopez)

Best Music

  • WINNER: Manang Biring (Dinno Christopher Parafina)
  • Miss Bulalacao (Rotsanjani Mojica)
  • Mga Rebeldeng May Kaso (Diwa de Leon)
  • Dayang Asu (Ian Puzon)Bukod Kang Pinagpala (Kit Mendoza)

Best Editing

  • WINNER: Hamog (Charliebebs Gohetia)
  • Manang Biring (Carl Joseph Papa)
  • Miss Bulalacao (Christian Linaban)
  • Dayang Asu (Mikee dela Cruz)

Best Production Design

  • WINNER: Bukod Kang Pinagpala (Harley Alcasid)
  • Dahling Nick (Maria Criselda Dacanay)
  • Miss Bulalacao (Philip Sinajonon and Ernest Dino)
  • Dayang Asu (Aldrin Olaguer, Mikee dela Cruz, Ikot Dawgz)

Best Cinematography

  • WINNER: Dayang Asu (Albert Banzon)
  • Bukod Kang Pinagpala (Dustin Uy)
  • Miss Bulalacao (Christian Libanan)

Best Supporting Actress

  • WINNER: Chai Fonacier, Miss Bulalacao
  • Anna Luna, Hamog
  • Cherie Gil, Baka Siguro Yata
  • Angelina Mailes Kanapi, Manang Biring
  • Tessie Tomas, Miss Bulalacao

Best Supporting Actor

  • WINNER: Bor Lentejas, Hamog
  • Ricky Davao, Baka Siguro Yata
  • Epy Quizon, Mga Rebeldeng May Kaso

Champion Bughaw Award

  • Manang Biring, Carl Joseph Papa

The Philippine Cinemas Originals Awards

  • Rox Lee, Joey Agbayani, Mike Alcazaren, Johnny Alcazaren, Nick Deocampo, Raymond Red

GUIDE: Cinema One Originals Festival 2015

With its 11th year’s theme Kakaiba Ka Ba?, Cinema One Originals Festival 2015 will run from November 9 to 17 at Trinoma, Glorietta, Resorts World Manila and SM Megamall with the presentation of nine feature films in competition, 10 short films in exhibition, 12 foreign films, four restored classics and two special presentations.

cinema one originals 2015 ticket rates

Here are the screening schedules per venue along with the master schedule of screenings across all venues:



The nine feature films in competition are the following: (Click the movie title to view trailer.)

  1. “Baka, Siguro, Yata” by Joel Ferrer
  2. “Bukod Kang Pinagpala” by Sheron Dayoc
  3. “Dahlin’ Nick” by Sari Dalena
  4. Dayang Asu” by Bor Ocampo
  5. “Hamog” by Ralston Jover
  6. “Manang Biring” by Carl Joseph Papa
  7. “Mga Rebeldeng May Kaso” by Raymond Red
  8. “Miss Bulalacao” by Ara Chawdhury
  9. “The Comeback” by Ivan Andrew Payawal

Joel Ferrer’s cross-generational screwball rom-com “Baka Siguro Yata” stars Valerie “Bangs” Garcia, Dino Pastrana, Ricky Davao, and Cherie Gil.

Sheron Dayoc’s religious horror gothic “Bukod Kang Pinagpala” featuring real-life mother and daughter Bing Pimentel and Maxie Eigenmann as a mother and daughter in the grip of sinister forces.

Ivan Andrew Payawal’s comedy about suicide and celebrity “The Comeback” features Kaye Abad as a fading star whose life takes an unexpected turn.

Sari Dalena’s “Dahling Nick,” an experimental docu-fiction hybrid that celebrates the life and work of Nick Joaquin with Raymond Bagatsing in the eponymous title role.

Bor Ocampo’s “Dayung Asu,” featuring Ricky Davao and Junjun Quintana as a father and son enmeshed in a life of crime, is a homage to Pinoy action set in a unique milieu.

Ralston Jover’s “Hamog” blends neo-realism and magic realism with Zaijan Jaranilla and Teri Malvar as street children.

Carl Joseph Papa’s fully-animated “Manang Biring” is the touching story of a terminal patient and her estranged daughter with Erlinda Villalobos in the title role.

Raymond Red’s “Mga Rebeldeng Walang Kaso” is a look back at the early days of the first wave of Philippine independent cinema with Felix Roco, Epi Quizon, Earl Ignacio, and Nicco Manala.

Ara Chawdhury’s “Miss Bulalacao”, which introduces performance artist Russ Ligtas in his first film role, is a comedy about a young drag queen whose life is changed by a strange encounter.


In commemoration of revolutionary cinema, Cinema One Originals 2015 will pay tribute to the first wave of Pinoy indies–the short filmmakers from the 80’s led by Raymond Red, Nick De Ocampo, Rox Lee and Joey Agbayani who are tagged as the pioneers of alternative cinema. As an auxiliary program, there will be a showcase of 10 short films from the Philippines, New Zealand and Iran.

The following are the 10 short films to be screened this year:

  1. “Junilyn Has” by Carlo Manatad
  2. “Sanctissima” by Kenneth Lim Dagatan
  3. “Dindo” by Martika Ramirez Escobar
  4. “Pusong Bato” (2013) by Pam Miras
  5. “Reyna Christina” by Pia Dimagiba
  6. “Memorya” by Jovanni Tinapay
  7. “Mabuhay ang Pilipinas” by Bor Ocampo
  8. “Anino” by Raymond Red
  9. “A Love Story” by Steven Baker
  10. “The Tenant” by Mohsen Mahkmalbaf


The 12 foreign films under “World Cinema” category are the following: (Click the movie title to view trailer.)

  1. “The Assassin” by Hou Hsiao-Hsien (Taiwan)
  2. “Journey to the Shore” by Kurosawa Kiyoshi (Japan)
  3. “Right Now, Wrong Then” by Hong Sang-Soo (South Korea)
  4. “Interrogation” by Vetri Maaran (India)
  5. “The President” by Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Georgia/Iran)
  6. “Arabian Night” by Miguel Gomes (Portugal)
    – Volume l. The Restless One
    – Volume ll. The Desolate One
    – Volume Ill.  The Enchanted One
  7. “The Lobster” by Yorgos Lanthimos (Ireland)
  8. “Rams” by Grimur Hakonarson (Iceland)
  9. “The Treasure” by Corneliu Porumboi (Romania)
  10. “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on its Existence” by Roy Andersson (Sweden)
  11. “Mustang” by Deniz Gamze Erguven (France)
  12. “Frenzy” by Emin Alper (Turkey)


Cinema One Originals will also present four digitally restored and re-mastered classic Filipino films.

  1. Gala premiere of Ishmael Bernal’s “Ikaw ay Akin”
  2. Lino Brocka’s “Insiang”
  3. Olivia Lamasan’s Sana Maulit Muli”
  4. Marilou Diaz Abaya’s “Karnal”


The festival will open on November 8 at Trinoma with the invitational screening of Erik Matti’s “Honor Thy Father” starring John Lloyd Cruz.

honor thy father

There will also a special presentation of Cinema One’s production of Sherad Sanchez’s found footage horror film “Salvage,” starring Jessy Mendiola as a reporter lost in a haunted jungle.

Join the Facebook event here: