The 2020 iteration of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival will push through on August 7 to 16, with the 16th year of the annual film fest going digital because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Co-produced by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the Cinemalaya Foundation Inc., Cinemalaya 2020 will feature Short Films in Competition, available via Vimeo for as low as P75 per bundle. The feature length films – usually the staple of Cinemalaya – that were supposed to compete this year will be lumped with 2021’s entries, largely because these were not finished because of the lockdowns.
In an online press conference, Arsenio J. Lizaso, CCP president, said that “even at the time of the pandemic, CCP intends to promote arts and culture.” This is why – specific to Cinemalaya – they have “taken a new path by transitioning to virtual (showing) for the first time.”
“Everything has been restructured by Covid-19, and we’re no exception,” said Laurice Guillen, president of the Cinemalaya Foundation Inc.
However, Guillen said, content remains a prime commodity, and so “it means we should continue to make films now more than ever. There is need for more now; it makes us realize the importance of creating more and more content.”
Joey Reyes, chairperson of Cinemalaya 2020, agreed with Guillen. “We may have been enclosed in our houses, but the imagination… remains,” he said. “You eventually have to go beyond the problem and find solutions. Accept (that) there is a pandemic; I can’t do things the way I did before. Accept (that) it’s gonna cost P2 million more; there has to be a certain amount of adjustment. And then adapt and don’t just give up; find new ways to make new things.”
This new approach, Reyes added, “makes the problem work to our benefit.”
For Cris Millado, CCP artistic director and festival director of Cinemalaya 2020, “Cinemalaya was born digital as it’s more practical and cheaper. It was also always geared to moving online; (Covid-19) just sped up the transition.”
FILMS IN FOCUS
In total, 244 entries were submitted for Cinemalaya 2020; and 10 short films were selected and will vie for the Best Film award. These are: “Ang Gasgas na Plaka ni Lolo Bert” (The Broken Vinyl Record) by Janina Gacosta and Cheska Marfori; “Ang Pagpakalma sa Unos” (TO CALM THE PIG INSIDE) by Joanna Vasquez Arong; “Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss” by Sonny Calvento; “Fatigued” by James Robin Mayo; “Living Things” by Martika Ramirez Escobar; PABASA KAN PASYON by Hubert Tibi; “Quing Lalam Ning Aldo” (UNDER THE SUN) by Reeden Fajardo; “The Slums” by Jan Andrei Cobey; “Tokwifi” by Carla Pulido Ocampo; and “Utwas” (ARISE) by Richard Salvadico and Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay.
In “Ang Gasgas na Plaka ni Lolo Bert”, an old vinyl record alters a closeted gay man’s life. Meanwhile, memories catch up as a girl visits a ravaged port city in Ang Pagpakalma sa Unos.
“Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss” tells the story about a department store sales lady who unearths the ultimate secret to regularization; while Fatigued is about an employee who overslept and must wake-up from a nightmare.
“Living Things” is about a woman who discovers that her decade-long lover has turned into a cardboard standee. Pabasa kan Pasyon follows a Bicolano family that turns to religion to make both ends meet.
In “Quing Lalam Ning Aldo”, a transgender sampaguita farmer decides to renovate their neglected kitchen as soon as she hears that her son is going home. The Slums, on the other hand, follow a documentary team who progressively intervenes and trespasses into the lives of a poor family living in the slums as they try to cope with the loss of their TV.
In “Tokwifi”, a 1950s mestiza star, trapped inside a television that fell from the sky, dreams up a romantic romp with a Bontok Igorot man who does not know how to kiss.
Meanwhile, “Utwas” narrates how a young boy discovers the ocean as he tries to learn how to dive and fish.
Aside from the main competition, the Cinemalaya will have a specially-curated Short Films in Exhibition, featuring 20 short films namely: “Ang Meron Sa Wala” (Beyond Nothing) by Arby and Christine Larano; “Ang Nawalang Haligi” (Pillar) by Sarah Mya Regacho; “Dama De Noche” by Lawrence Sibug; “Grand Gestures” by Cody Abad; “Gulis” (LINES) by Kyle Jumayne Francisco; “Habak” by Paolo Matibag and Mia Salisbury; “Himagsik ng Hiwaga” (Revolt of the Mystic) by Geoffrey Solidum; “Igib” by Joey Paras; “Jepoy” by Avid Liongoren; “Kung Saan Patag Ang Bundok” (Where The Horizon Meets The Mountain) by Dolliete Echon; “OctoGod” by Shievar Olegario; “Paon” by Seb Valdez; “Pinakanakapagpapabagabag-Damdamin” (Most Disturbing Feeling) by Jermaine Tulbo; “Si Gloria at Si Juan” by Gilliano Salvador; “Sumasaiyo,” (Yours truly,) by Jermaine Tulbo; “Tarang” (Life’s Pedal) by Arvin Alindogan Belarmino; and “The Rooftop” by Avirup Biswas.
MORE FILMS FOR EVERYONE
This year’s Cinemalaya will also be joined by what used to be separate festivals – i.e. Eigasai Japanese Film Festival and Cine Europa.
After the two-week festival, the films will be shown via iWantTV in a move said to “broaden the reach of Cinemelaya content nationwide. And then it moves on globally with a partnership with TFC Global,” said Millado.
Aside from the films in competition, Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video, the longest-running independent film and video competition in Asia, will also continue its run this year. Visions of Asia, one of the major components of the film festival, will screen films from Asia.
Cinemalaya will also pay tribute to individuals who have made great contributions to the Philippine film industry, particularly director Peque Gallaga and actress Anita Linda.
Screenwriter Ricky Lee, in partnership with Cinemalaya, will conduct a scriptwriting masterclass. There will also be a virtual reunion of his writing workshop alumni.
Also, don’t miss out on other Cinemalaya components such as the Cinemalaya Retrospectives, featuring past Cinemalaya films, and Cinemalaya Campus, among others.