Majority of the viewing public may not be familiar with the term microcinema, but soon, it will be part of every moviegoer’s vocabulary.
Although the term microcinema, which refers to small theaters, was coined only around 25 years ago, film hubs that operated in order to show small-gauge filmmaking, have been in existence for more than 120 years. In fact, the commercial public screening of ten of Lumiere brothers’ (regarded as the first filmmakers in history) short films in Paris on Dec. 28, 1895 was done in a microcinema.
In present day, microcinemas feed the appetite for alternative and independent films. Paraphrasing the words of film enthusiast and educator Carl E. Balita, who is also the president of Carl E. Balita Review Center (CBRC), microcinemas are such a blessing to both filmmakers and film enthusiasts.
He said that there may be a number of cinemas in the country yet they seem to be limited to blockbuster and mainstream film outputs. More often than not, independent films go unnoticed after their festival run even if they win countless awards locally and internationally. The audience is then left to wonder where to catch these films especially that video releases are hard to come by these days. Thus, the need for microcinema arises.
“Profit is the main motivation of commercial theatres. Now microcinema is an alternative avenue that gives small production a place to be seen my more audience,” Balita said on Friday during the opening of CBRC Dream Theater, a microcinema located in the heart of Manila.
He further said that the new space will not only provide a venue for filmmakers to showcase their works but also to support theater artists thus extending CBRC Dream Theater for rehearsals and theater performances. He also wishes to discover untapped talents and hone their skills for growth and development. CBRC Dream Theater will soon be home to original plays and theater thespians.
Located in España, it is at the center of the University Belt, catering to artists and students hungry for a cinema that connects them to society, providing insight on matters they may seem to overlook.
“This microcinema can seat 200 up to 250 attendees. It is equipped with a 4k projection unit, and 5.1 Surround Sound Stereo, capable of giving audience a cinematic experience at par with other modern microcinemas. Entrance fee is affordable, too. It’s P150, ” said Archie del Mundo, director of CBRC Dream Theater.
Film distribution though remains to be one of the biggest challenges independent filmmakers face until today. The availability of microcinemas is a new lease on life given to independent films. The viewing public is given access to locally-produced indie films. Something that the industry has long sought for.
And in his effort to help small filmmakers, Balita made a promise that he can convert all other branches of his review center into microcinemas.
“Name a city anywhere in the Philippines and I can assure you that our review center is present in that city. We have a facility like this in every center and at the soonest time possible we can convert them into something like this that is capable to screen films. Just a little investment on projector and on the good sound system,” Balita said.
Meanwhile, during the opening, audiences were treated with Loy Arcenas’ musical blockbuster Ang Larawan. Top-billed by Joanna Ampil, Rachel Alejandro and Paulo Avelino with a talented ensemble of actors from both film and the theatre.
Ang Larawan is a thought-provoking crowd-pleaser that won several awards in the recent Metro Manila Film Festival and received multiple nominations in different award-giving bodies. Based on the musicale that was adapted from Nick Joaquin’s Palanca Award-winning three-act play Portrait of the Artist as a Filipino, Ang Larawan questions certain notions in culture and the arts as newer, more modern forms come to take over.
“We have already committed about 40,000 pairs of eyes (the number of students currently enrolled in Carl E. Balita Review Center) which will watch and appreciate the masterpiece Ang Larawan because it will go side by side with another masterpiece that we have crafted, Maestra in our passion to help the industry,” Balita said before Ang Larawan was screened.
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