Breakthrough of Philippine Indie Films through Cinemalaya
The Philippines is said to have the oldest film industry in Southeast Asia. But in recent years, this industry is governed by mainstream films and big budget studio productions. Nonetheless, the advent of technology and social media has given the independent film industry a chance to shine through once again. Today, well-known actors are lining up to star in low-budget productions and working on films by first-time filmmakers.
The independent films in the Philippines have continued to progress since its proliferation in the film industry because of the rising patronage by film practitioners, critics, connoisseurs, and enthusiasts. It has also acquired the support of the government, which hosts independent films festivals in the country such as the Quezon City Film Fest.
Cinemalaya as a platform for indie films
Cinemalaya, established in 2005, is the most prominent all-digital, independent film festival and competition in the country. It intends to discover, encourage and honor cinematic works of Filipino filmmakers. It is a project of Cinemalaya Foundation, Inc. and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
“Cinemalaya aims to invigorate the Philippine filmmaking by developing a new breed of Filipino filmmakers,” according to CCP. “Each year, ten fresh talents are given a seed grant in order to create the film of their dreams.”
To date, Cinemalaya is already on its 11th year. And in that span of time, it has already supported and promoted the production of 118 full feature independent films and 96 short films, many of which have won awards in local and international competitions and festivals, and have gone on to gain international fame. Furthermore, it’s evolving to be one of the must-attend festivals in the Philippines.
“Aside from the screenings are other exciting film-related events: the Cinemalaya Film Congress, a two-day conference that looks at all aspects of independent filmmaking and distribution; the Cinemalaya Sine Taktakan, a forum with Cinemalaya filmmakers; and a host of other events,” according to CCP.
The full-length entry films in different categories will be given with awards and recognition such as Best Film, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Sound Design, and Best Editing to name a few.
Among the previous entries, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (2011) was one of the most awarded films in the country. It won the Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay in Cinemalaya’s New Breed category. Moreover, it gained 17 wins and 26 nominations such as Digital Movie Editor of the Year in Star Awards for Movies (2012), Best First Time Director in the Philadelphia Film Festival (2012), Best Motion Picture and Best Director in the Golden Screen Awards of the Philippines (2012). This comedy film starred popular mainstream actors such as Eugene Domingo, JM De Guzman, Kean Cipriano and Cai Cortez. It was a narrative about three film school graduates who set on to produce a film for the sake and purpose of gaining international awards and recognition.
Transit (2013), on the other hand, took home the bacon for Best Film, Best Editing, and Best Director in Cinemalaya’s New Breed category. It also gathered 13 wins and 9 nominations in international and local film festivals such as Best Feature Film in the FEST New Directors/New Films Festival (2015), Best Direction, Best Screenplay and Best Editing in Gawad Urian Awards (2014), and Student Jury Prize in Tokyo FILMEx (2013). This film depicted a story of a single father who hid his children from immigration police after the Israel government decided to deport children of immigrant workers.
This year’s Cinemalaya will be held on August 5-14, 2016 at the CCP and other festival venues. For more information on this year’s festival, you may visit www.cinemalaya.org.