Ten Films To Look Out For in Next Month’s Cinemalaya

Last year, I got to watch three films during August’s annual Cinemalaya event at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). It was quite a revelation, as each one was undoubtedly brilliant in its own way. 


First, there was ML. It was about a military veteran who ended up applying his Martial Law era-honed torture skills on three young students. Smaller and Smaller Circles (based on F.H. Batacan’s novel), on the other hand, was a classic whodunnit about grisly murders in Payatas. Lastly, Mga Mister ni Rosaryo, in contrast, was a comedy about a devoted wife’s struggles with her method actor husband. 


Unlike the highly-commercialized Metro Manila Film Festival, Cinemalaya celebrates independent filmmakers. Because they’re under no pressure to generate multimillion box office returns, you won’t find any safe and predictable entries here.  


Instead, you can expect to feast your eyes on some gripping and visceral stories, such as the ones taking center stage this year:


  1. Ani (The Harvest)

    Directed By: Kim Zuñiga and Sandro del Rosario

    Starring: Zyren de la Cruz, Ricky Davao, Miguel Valdes, Marc Felix, Anna Luna, and JM Canlas

    Plot Summary: Set in 2050, Mithi, an orphan, moves to the farm to live with his grandfather. When the latter falls ill, Mithi and his robot consequently embark on a quest for the cure: a handful of magic seeds.


  3. Annak Ti Karayan (Children of the River)

    Directed By: Maricel Cariaga

    Starring: Noel Comia, Jr., Ricky Oriarte, Dave Justin Francis, Junyka Santarin, JR Custodio, and Juancho Triviño.

    Plot Summary: Elias, Pepsy, Agol, and Robin are childhood friends who swear to look out for each other. This pledge is sorely tested once Elias gets an unexpected phone call one morning by the river.


  5. Belle Douleur (Beautiful Pain)

    Directed By: Joji V. Alonso

    Starring: Kit Thompson, Mylene Dizon, Marlon Rivera, Jenny Jamora, and Hannah Ledesma

    Plot Summary: Elizabeth is a strong and independent fortysomething woman determined to spend her days alone. However, she reconsiders upon meeting Jon, a twentysomething man who encourages her to revel in the present.


  7. Edward

    Directed By: Thop Nazareno

    Starring: Louise Abuel, Dido dela Paz, Elijah Canlas, Manuel Chua, and Ella Cruz

    Plot Summary: A young boy is stuck in a public hospital looking after his sick father. The place becomes his playground and eventually, his source of inspiration and liberation.


  9. Fuccbois

    Directed By: Eduardo Roy, Jr.

    Starring: Royce Cabrera, Kokoy de Santos, and Ricky Davao

    Plot Summary: A pair of robust and attractive young men aspire to be famous actors, but fate has other plans.


  11. Iska

    Directed By: Theodore Boborol

    Starring: Soliman Cruz, Ruby Ruiz, Ricky Rivero, Jonic Magno, Jomari Angeles, and RK Bagatsing

    Plot Summary: A loving yet impoverished grandmother works as a photocopier at the state university. Despite providing for and caring for her autistic grandson, a news report gone wrong paints her as an abusive guardian and wreaks havoc on her life.


  13. John Denver Trending

    Directed By: Arden Rod Condez

    Starring: Jansen Magpusao, Meryll Soriano, Glenn Mas, Sammy Rubido, Vince Philip Alegre, and Jofranz Ambubuyog

    Plot Summary: Eighth grader John Denver Cabungcal certainly strives to be a good student in school. One day, his classmate accuses him of stealing an iPad, and the relentless allegations provoke him to retaliate. Unfortunately, someone records the incident and posts it on social media, turning John’s life upside down.


  15. Malamaya (The Color of Ash)

    Directed By: Danica Sta. Lucia and Leilani Chavez

    Starring: Enzo Pineda, Sunshine Cruz, Raymond Bagatsing, and Bernadette Allyson

    Plot Summary: Like Belle Douleur, Malamaya is about a May-December romance. Here, fifty year-old Nora is dissatisfied with her love life, appearance, and her art. That is, until she meets young Migs, an aspiring photographer who reignites her passion and appreciation for both her art and her body. 


  17. Pandanggo sa Hukay

    Directed By: Sheryl Rose Andes

    Starring: Iza Calzado, Ybes Bagadiong, Acey Aguilar, Diva Montelaba, Charlie Dizon, and Star Orjaliza.

    Plot Summary: A small-town midwife prepares for a job interview for an overseas job, only to find herself beset by a series of unfortunate events.


  19. Tabon

    Directed By: Xian Lim

    Starring: Christopher Roxas, Leon Miguel, Benjie Felipe, Lao Rodriguez, Ynna Asistio, Menggie Cobarrubias, and Dexter Doria

    Plot Summary: Several people are accused of a crime they swear they didn’t commit. Hence, the protagonist finds himself in the same situation, thus causing him to question his grip on reality.


Cinemalaya will run from Friday, 2 August, to Sunday, 11 August. As per, all feature films will be shown in various theaters within the CCP. Tickets range from Php150 per screening for students to Php200 for regular audiences. You can also purchase an all-access pass for Php4,000. 


See you all there! 

Serena Estrella

Serena joined Remit back in 2016, and has tormented its Marketing Head constantly ever since. To get through the rigors of writing about grave concerns like exchange rates, citizenship requirements, and PH-AU news, she likes to blast Mozart, Vivaldi, ONE OK ROCK, and Shigeru Umebayashi in the background. She does a mean Merida voice in her spare time too.


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