Personalities of the Philippine mainstream movie industry headline some of the newest crop of films in the ninth incarnation of the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival and Competition (Cinemalaya).
In a development that Chris Millado, Cinemalaya 2013 festival director noted as part of the evolution of arguably the “most exciting and influential (film) festival in the country”, this year’s festival’s incarnation highlight talents who were said to have been “enticed to crossover and redefine their art and craft” as it the festival has long “hosted the emergence of an in-between world which some filmmakers… labeled as ‘maindie’ – a liminal sphere straddling and invigorating both independent and mainstream cinema.”
Among the big local celebrities participating in this year’s Cinemalaya include Vilma Santos, Eugene Domingo, and Gretchen Barreto.
Santos, dubbed as the “Star for All Seasons” of the local showbiz industry, takes the lead role in Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra (The Bit Player), described as a socio-realist drama-comedy film that follows a seemingly usual day in the life of one Loida Malabanan (played by Santos) as she embarks on yet another shooting day of a soap opera as an extra. As the shoot goes on, viewers get a glimpse of the ruling system of the production, as well as the exploitation on the marginalized laborers like her. While Ekstra is Jeturian’s ninth film and his second for Cinemalaya’s Directors Showcase (in 2011, his entry Bisperas won the Best Picture in the Directors Showcase category), this is the first time that Santos dabbled in Cinemalaya.
Domingo is in Leo Abaya’s Instant Mommy, which follows the story of Bechayda, a two months pregnant wardrobe assistant for TV commercial production, a highly visualized world where the video screen reigns supreme. In the fear of losing her Japanese lover and her dreams of a better life, she embarks on a plan that will get herself out of her predicament. Abaya belongs to the first batch of Ricky Lee’s Scriptwriting Workshop, which included Armando Lao, Jeffrey Jeturian and Boots Agbayani Pastor among others. He finished his MA Fine Art at the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton in the UK, and his second undergraduate degree, BFA (mcl) at the UP College of Fine Arts, Diliman.
Barretto is in Christopher Ad. Castillo’s The Diplomat Hotel, which follows the story of a news reporter out to make a documentary on the last night of The Diplomat Hotel in Baguio City, a crumbling and abandoned building infamously known for its bloody past and its hauntings and has carved a place in Philippine ghost lore. Castillo is the first born son of legendary filmmaker Celso Ad. Castillo. The Diplomat Hotel is his 3rd feature film after The Sky Is Falling and the ensemble drama Los Angeles7 and he has directed several music videos.
There are even more big names in Cinemalaya 2013.
Anita Linda, a favorite muse of indie film directors, is in David F by Emmanuel Palo and Nuwebe by Joseph Israel Laban, which also stars Jake Cuenca. Lovi Poe appears in Jerrold Tarog’s Sana Dati with Paulo Avelino, who also leads Debosyon. Meanwhile, Alessandra De Rossi is in Gil M. Portes’ Liars.
The 9th Cinemalaya is scheduled on July 26 to August 4 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Ayala Cinemas in TriNoma, Greenbelt 3 and Alabang Town Center.
Winners of the competition will be named in the awards night on August 4 at the CCP.
Cinemalaya, an all-digital film festival that aims to discover, encourage and honor cinematic works of Filipino filmmakers that articulate and the Filipino experience with fresher insight and artistry, is a project of the Cinemalaya Foundation, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), Econolink Investments Inc. and Film Development Council of the Philippines.