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Artistic freedom soars high in Cinemalaya

By Darwin Pesco

Kicked off with the lively beats of drums, the 2018 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival commenced vivaciously, which introduced the great minds behind every full-length and short film as this year’s festival commits for the recognition of the directors’ artistic freedom and integrity.

WINGS OF VISION. The 14 Cinemalaya invigorates the Philippine film industry by giving the new breed of Filipino filmmakers a platform to showcase their stories. 
“Cinemalaya tries to foster an environment of artistic freedom to help the filmmaker along the process, he is free to make his choices, from the subject matter, style, and treatment,” said Director Laurice Guillen, the head of the festival’s organizing committee, during the festival’s opening night at the Nicanor Abelardo Hall in the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Eric Matti’s Buybust opened the festival, which earned standing ovation and cheers from the audience. 

“If there’s anything Buybust represents this year’s festival, if there’s a theme why the committee chose our film, I hope this is about finally graduating the festival into not just giving opportunity to filmmakers for their unique voices to be heard, but also celebrate the craft that goes into creating their own personal world on films underlining the form is as important as substance,” Matti stated in his letter read by a representative. 

Anne Curtis, the lead star of the action-packed film, attended the screening with fellow cast and crew, and thanked the crowd for their overwhelming reactions and support for the film. 

Anne Curtis flanked by the cast and crew of 'Buybust,' the festival's opening film.
Since its inception in 2005, Cinemalaya has continued to discover, encourage, and support the artistic works of upcoming and seasoned filmmakers. Also, another goal of the festival is for the directors to articulate their ideas and views freely and without any hurdle, and also to show the Philippine’s cyclorama to the film enthusiasts in a pristine way.  

 This year’s film festival-—with the theme of “Wings of Vision”-—promises to deliver the best visual storytelling to every film aficionado. Audience imagination is the one that will surely get caught after the judges’ meticulous evaluation of the festival’s line-up of shorts and full-lengths. 

Ten full-length films are competing to claim the top prizes. Contending films are: Distance by Perci Intalan; Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon (Waiting for Sunset) by Carlo Enciso Catu; Kuya Wes by James Robin Mayo; Liway by Kip Oebanda; Mamang by Denise O’Hara; ML by Benedicto Mique Jr.; Musmos na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma (Unless the Water is Safer than the Land) by Iar Lionel Arondaing; Pan de Salawal (The Sweet Taste of Salter Bread and Undies) by Che Espiritu; School Service by Luisito Lagdameo Ignacio; and, The Lookout by Afi Africa

Performers at Cinemalaya opening night.
In the 14th year of celebrating filmmakers’ wings of imagination, 10 short films are also included and these are: Babylon by Keith Deligero; Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month by Carlo Francisco Manatad; Kiko by Jojo Driz; Logro by Kani Villaflor; Nangungupahan (Who Rents There Now) by Glenn Barit; Sa Saiyang Isla (In His Island) by Christian Candelaria; Si Astri maka Si Talmbulah (Astri and Tambulah) by Xeph Suarez; Siyudad sa Bulawan (City of Gold) by Jarell Serencio; Yakap by Mika Fabella and Rafael Froilan, Jr.; and You, Me and Mr. Wiggles by Jav Velasco

Apart from the competing films, the festival presents other highlights such as Dokyu, the documentary section; Best of Festivals, showcasing the best films from local festivals; Indie Nation, a special section featuring independent films; Vision of Asia, which features award-winning Asian and Netpac films; and the showcase of the final projects of the Directing and Production Management workshops under the 4th Cinemalaya Institute. 

Another mainstay is the tribute to the directors Maryo J. Delos Reyes and Bernardo Bernardo through a special screening of their chef-d’oeuvre. Also, the retrospective section is featuring the 2017 Cinemalaya Best Film Respeto by Treb Montreras and Baconaua by Joseph Israel Laban who grabbed the Best Director award. 

CCP opens also various competitions with Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video, the longest-running independent film contest in the ASEAN Region and lastly, the Cinemalaya Campus, which is slated on Aug. 7 and 8 at the Silangan Hall. 

The festival runs from Aug. 3 to 12 at various venues of the CCP and selected Ayala Cinemas, while the Cinemalaya Awards Night will be held on Aug. 12 at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo to name this year’s bests.

Topics: Cinemalaya , Buybust , Anne Curtis , Laurice Guillen , Cultural Center of the Philippines , ASEAN Region
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