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:
- Ani (The Harvest)
- Annak Ti Karayan (Children of the River)
- Belle Douleur (Beautiful Pain)
- John Denver Trending
- Malamaya (The Color of Ash)
- Pandanggo sa Hukay
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!