Witnessing the crowd that trooped to the Cultural Center and watched the films competing in the 18th edition of Cinemalaya, I could say that the country’s biggest and most influential indie film festival has succeeded with its comeback.
While the CCP run has ended, the cinematic fever continues with extended screenings at Iloilo Cinematheque, Davao Cinematheque, and even at Cinema 76, featuring the 11 full-length and 12 short films in competition.
And good news to those from the southern regions of the Philippines because the Balanghai sets sail to the City of Dapitan in Zamboanga del Norte from September 9 to 13.
Dubbed Cinemalaya 18 in Dapitan: Festival of Winners, this iteration showcases this year’s winning films and selected titles. Carlo Obispo’s The Baseball Player and Zig Dulay’s Black Rainbow—both named Best Film in their categories—will open the Dapitan edition.
Cited for “its sheer poignance and quiet power, for its subtle but trenchant storytelling, and for its penetrating take on the Mindanao conflict and the sad wreckage it has made of young innocent lives,” The Baseball Player follows the story of a Moro child soldier who dreams to become a baseball player amid the raging war in Mindanao.
Aside from Best Film, Obispo’s full-length film won Best Screenplay, Best Actor for Tommy Alejandrino, and Best Editing for Dulay.
Dulay also took home two Balanghai trophies—Best Film and Best Screenplay—for his film Black Rainbow. It was singled out for its “being a bright jewel of a short film, for being a cross-cultural masterpiece that touches the heart and reveals the determination of children to pursue their bright young dreams.”
Aside from the Best Films, other full-length awardees premiering in Dapitan are Anna Isabelle Matutina’s 12 Weeks (NETPAC Jury Prize, Best Actress for Max Eigenmann), Ma-an L. Asuncion-Dagnalan’s Blue Room (Best Direction for Dagñalan, Best Cinematography for Neil Daza, Best Supporting Actor for Soliman Cruz, Best Production Design for Marxie Maolen Fadul and Special Jury Prize); and TM Malones’ Kargo (Audience Choice Award).
People of Dapitan will also have a chance to watch the award-winning short films such as Gabriela Serrano’s Dikit (Best Direction and Special Jury Prize) and Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay and Richard Jeroui Salvadico’s Mga Handum Nga Nasulat sa Baras (Audience Choice Award).
The Dapitan art council also selected some films which they thought would resonate with their people—Raz de la Torre’s Kwits, Xeph Suarez’s City of Flowers, and Mark Moneda’s See You, George. Leonor Will Never Dies, which opened the Cinemalaya in CCP, will also have its Dapitan screening.
Theodore Boborol’s Iska, 2019 Cinemalaya’s Best Screenplay, will close the Dapitan edition. For those who don’t know, director Boborol is from the Shrine City of the Philippines.
I heard that the City of Dapitan has been positioning itself as an emerging heritage, arts, and tourism destination. With their hosting of the largest indie film festival in the country, they hope to introduce the city as a premiere film production location in Mindanao and stimulate film and art appreciation in various communities in ZaNorte, especially among the youth.
I’m excited to see how the people from Dapitan and neighboring towns would receive Cinemalaya. I remember hearing about the heart-warming reactions when Cinemalaya brought Arden Rod Condez’s John Denver Trending (Cinemalaya 15’s Best Film) to Antique in 2019.
With how the direction of the artistic wind has been changing lately, I hope the Balanghai will reach more shores in the coming days.
• • •
It’s gonna be a busy September in the artistic arena. Events are happening left and right, which is definitely a good thing because it means the live event industry is slowly bouncing back from the negative effects of the pandemic.
In CCP alone, we have the Special Concert Series, featuring soprao Stephanie Quintin, on September 7. Then, there’s Gawad CCP Para sa Sining, where the Center will finally be able to confer awards to deserving individuals and organizations.
There is also the opening of the retrospective exhibit, titled Imelda Cajipe-Endaya: Pagtutol at Pag-Asa, happening on September 3, at the CCP Main Gallery. Better to visit because this is the last exhibit at the Main Gallery before the Main Building closes its door for renovation and rehabilitation.
And finally, the CCP will inaugurate the Tanghalang Ignaco Gimenez on September 8. While this event is invitational, you can already start planning your schedule to watch the shows at the new Black Box Theater. I swear that the artistic season of this new structure in the CCP Complex is truly exciting.
Don’t forget the 53rd CCP Anniversary Gala, dubbed Musikal II, featuring excerpts from original Filipino musicals from 2015 to 2021, in vignettes to be performed by leading artists from various theater companies in the country.
I’d say, if there is revenge travel, then this is definitely the revenge performance of the artistic communities.