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Indie films make their mark at Cinemalaya Cinco

Now on its fifth year and billed as “Cinemalaya Cinco,” the 2009 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival was aptly tagged as the “big, small film festival” – conveying its valuable impact as a major event in the local independent film industry.

It featured around 170 indie films on its festival season at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) from July 17 to 26, 2009. Cinemalaya just wrapped up at CCP, but it’s not really the end. It goes to the University of the Philippines Film Institute (UPFI) from July 28 to Aug. 4, 2009. Just like the previous films during their heydays back the time of Cinemalaya’s first four years, expect a number of the films gracing the local theaters and film festivals as well. Moreso, expect a number of them gracing the international film festival circuit and making much bigger waves for the Philippine independent cinema and the Philippine film industry as a whole.

Primarily a competitive film festival that aims to discover, encourage and honor the cinematic works of Filipino filmmakers and seeks to invigorate the Philippine film industry by developing a new breed of Filipino filmmakers, the fifth edition of the festival expands itself with various the new competitive category for local film premieres through the NETPAC Prize, along with a number of film features, exhibitions, retrospective, and a film congress.

The finalists for the full length category include:

“24K” (Ana Agabin)
Best Cinematography for Pao Orendain

The secret world of treasure hunting in the country comes to the fore.

“Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe” (Alvin Yapan)
Special Jury Prize

A film about the plight of Filipino women in a provocative tale that blurs the boundaries between the mundane and the mysterious, the real and the fantastic.

“Astig” (GB Sampedro)
Best Direction for GB Sampedro; Best Sound for Ditoy Aguila and Junnel Valencia; Best Editing for Charliebebs Gohetia; and Best Supporting Actor for Arnold Reyes

An episodic tale about four young tough guys finding their way out of Manila’s urban rut.

“Colorum” (Jon Steffan Ballesteros)
Special Jury Prize; and Best Actor for Lou Veloso

A young cop moonlighting as an FX cab driver and a 70-year-old ex-con embark on a road trip.

“Dinig Sana Kita” (Mike Sandejas)
Audience Choice Award; National Council for Children’s TV Award; and Best Original Scoring for Francis Brew Reyes

A deaf boy who loves dancing and a troubled girl rocker abusing her hearing fall for each other.

“Engkwentro” (Pepe Diokno)
Special Mention

A raw and alarming story about two brothers separately ending up in two rival gangs with one tasked to kill the other.

“Last Supper No. 3” (Veronica Velasco and Jinky Laurel)
Best Film, Full-length Feature

A humorous look at the circuitous path the Philippine legal system takes to justice as the assistant production designer searches for a lost Last Supper prop to use as a prop for a TV commercial.

“Mangatyanan” (Jerrold Tarog)
Best Production Design for Benjamin Padero

A travel photographer covering a rare harvest ritual comes face-to-face with the demons from her past.

“Nerseri” (Vic Acedillo)
Best Screenplay for Vic Acedillo

A boy struggles for his own sanity as he takes charge of his mentally challenged older siblings while their mother goes away to the province.

“Sanglaan” (Milo Sogueco)
Best Actress for Ina Feleo; Best Supporting Actress for Tessie Tomas

A tale of hope and redemption lies in a pawnshop’s mundane goings-on.

The finalists for the short film category include:

“Behind Closed Doors” (Mark Philipp Espina)
Best Screenplay for Mark Philipp Espina

A story of relationships is unwittingly founded on lies.

“BLOGOG” (Rommel “Milo” Tolentino)
Special Jury Award

Depicting the enchantment of childhood, a seven-year-old boy gets more than he bargained for with the filthy yellow ball he picks up from a creek.

“Bonsai” (Alfonso “Borgy” K. Torre III)
Best Film, Short Feature

A story of hope about an obese, insecure security guard who wants attention from a lady.

“Hulagpos” (Maita Lirra Lupac)

A ten-year-old girl forbidden from a room in the family house manages to enter it only to discover her mother’s secret.

“Latus” (John Paul S. Seniel)

Two girls exchange notes of sort on their brush with corporal punishment.

“Musa” (Dexter B. Cayanes)
Best Direction for Dexter B. Cayanes

A poet into faith-healing finds his muse.

“Si Bok at ang Trumpo” (Hubert Tibi)

A playful boy discovers something far more precious than his beloved toy.

“Tatang” (Jean Paolo “Nico” Hernandez)
Audience Choice Award

An old man who makes both ends meet stealing and pick-pocketing has his granddaughter for an apprentice.

“Ugat sa Lupa” (Ariel Reyes)

The hardship of a family living in an island without fresh water is captured in a non-dialog drama.

“Wat Floor Ma’am” (Mike Sandejas and Robert Seña)

The country’s flamboyant former First Lady and local cinema’s Bad Boy are trapped in the elevator of an old government building.

1st Cinemalaya Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) Prize

Nine full-length digital films competed for the 1st Cinemalaya Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) Prize, a new section of the Cinemalaya. The Cinemalaya NETPAC Prize is given to new full-length independent works premiering at the Cinemalaya Festival outside the actual Cinemalaya Main Competition. NETPAC is a worldwide organization of 29 member countries and is composed of critics, filmmakers, festival organizers, curators, distributors and exhibitors and film educators.

Competing films for the NETPAC Prize include:

“Aurora” (Adolfo Alix Jr.)

“Baseko Bakal Boys” (Ralston Jover)
Winner, 1st Cinemalaya Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (Netpac) Prize

“Bayaw” (Monti Parungao)

“Boy” (Auraeus Solito)

“Handumanan” (Seymour Sanchez)

“Karera” (Adolfo Alix Jr.)

“Latak” (Jowee Morel)

“Prince of Cockfighting” (Yeng Grande)

“Walang Hanggang Paalam” (Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos)

The 2009 Cinemalaya jury was composed of: Mark Vincent Escaler, Director of the Ateneo de Manila University Center for Communication Research and Training; Aude Hesbert, head of Paris Cinema International Film Festival; Aruna Vasudev, Founder-President of NETPAC, film director Chito S. Roño, and actress Cherry Pie Picache.

Cinemalaya’s opening film was “Manila” by Raya Martin and Adolfo Alix Jr. which was also recently shown at the 62nd Festival de Cannes Special Selection (Out of Competition). It showed the dark, gritty, and dangerous Manila, along with the complications of struggling Filipinos stricken by poverty, prostitution, and drug use as seen in the eyes of its main character portrayed by Piolo Pascual. The film was made as a homage to the classic films of Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal.

The masterpieces of Brocka, Doy Del Mundo, Maryo J. Delos Reyes and Peque Gallaga were also shown in the festival. It also featured the Brocka Retrospective with the screening of Wanted: Perfect Mother, Santiago, Tubog sa Ginto, Cadena de Amor, Cherry Blossoms, Stardoom, Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Ina Ka ng Anak Mo, Jaguar, Bona, Binata Si Mister, Dalaga si Misis, White Slavery, Macho Dancer, Makiusap sa Diyos and Orapronobis. Christian Blackwood’s Signed Lino Brocka was also featured in this special section. All films were part of the Lino Brocka Collection of the CCP.

A number of programs were also part of the festival: Kids’ Treats, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Section, The City in Focus Section, Women in Indies, Off Center Section, Documentary Section, Indie Ani, and Korean short films with collaborating Filipino film scholars. Short films by filmmakers from the regions and schools such as De La Salle University, UP Film Institute, UP Viscom, and Ateneo de Manila University were also on exhibition.

Another major event of Cinemalaya Cinco was the Cinemalaya Film Congress conducted from July 21-22 at the CCP Little Theater. With the theme “Linking Digital Highways,” the film congress aimed to provide discussions in discovering the major centers of independent filmmaking in the country, assessing the artistic achievement of cinematic works produced in the last five years, and inviting indie filmmakers from the different regions to speak about the state of indie filmmaking in their areas and to establish a network of indie filmmaking centers to consolidate all efforts to create, promote and market indie films both here and abroad.

Cinemalaya is an all-digital film competition and venue for exhibition of notable film works aimed at discovering new Filipino filmmakers.

Cinemalaya Cinco is a presentation of the Cinemalaya Foundation, in cooperation with the CCP, Econolink Investments, Inc. and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).

Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.

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