By Terence Krishna V. Lopez

On its second year, Cinemaralita, the country’s first film festival about the urban poor, features old and new films in its university tours. Aimed at raising public awareness on the plight of the Philippine urban poor, Cinemaralita lines up for this year more than 20 full-length and short narratives and documentaries that tackle issues that the urban poor faces daily. 

Cinema fest

For this year, the festival pays tribute to some of the most unforgettable political films that tell about lives and times of ordinary urban dwellers thus portraying social realities that remain unchanged until now. Among these political films are Lino Brocka’s recently digitally-restored, well-loved Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (1975) starring Rafael Roco Jr. and Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim(1985) starring Phillip Salvador and Mike de Leon’s critically successful Sister Stella L.(1984). Raymond Red’s Cannes-winning short feature Anino (2000) is also in the list.

Both Maynila and Bayan Ko highlight their respective hero’s life and struggles in the concrete jungle of Manila that bring each to his cul de sac. De Leon’s Vilma Santos starrer Sister Stella L. on the other hand tells about a young nun’s social awakening in the midst of a trade union’s fight for workers’ rights and welfare. Red’s Anino is about a photographer from the province who wanders in the streets of Manila, seeing different kinds of souls from the people he encounters.

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In the festival’s lineup of recent films are the internationally acclaimed and Gawad URIAN -winning films Himpapawid (Manila Skies, 2009) by Raymond Red and Tundong Magiliw (Tondo, Beloved, 2011) by Jewel Maranan. Both films have won critical acclaims and rave reviews in its international exhibitions. Red’s Himpapawid has been screened in 16 international Film Festivals including the Rotterdam, Montreal and the London Film Festivals while Maranan’s Tundong Magiliw has been screened in Edinburgh Film Festival (Scotland), Tampere Film Festival (Finland), Yerba Buena Film Festival (USA), Chopshots Documentary Film Festival and Festival Film Dokumenter (Indonesia) and in the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (Japan) among others. Himpapawid is about a man driven to madness by hunger and poverty while Tundong Magiliw is a documentary on life before birth in the seams of Manila’s largest port, in one of the oldest and densest districts of the country – Tondo that is.

Ilang-ilang Quijano’s Puso ng Lungsod, Adjani Arumpac’s Nanay Mameng, EJ Mijares’ Entablado, SIPAT’s Mula 3rd Ave. Hanggang sa Dulo, Richard Soriano-Legaspi’s Pamatid Gutom, Adi Bontuyan’s Taya and Maranan’s Kung Balatan ang Bawang, among others, are also in the festival lineup.

Just recently, Cinemaralita held the successful Philippine premiere of the South African documentary “Dear Mandela” directed by Dara Kell and Christopher Nizza at the University of the Philippines’ Cine Adarna. It is about a group of South Africans living in the shacks who rose up and challenged an anti-people law called “Slums Act” to the highest court of their country, the Constitutional court. Dear Mandela won Best Documentary in several film festivals including the Montreal International Black Film Festival and Africa Movie Academy Awards. Apart from the said documentary, Sundance winner and United Kingdom’s entry to the 2014 Oscar’s “Metro Manila” directed by Sean Ellis will also be screened in the festival.

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Organized by the Urban Poor Resource Center of the Philippines, Cinemaralita’s next legs are set in the University of the Philippines-Manila, De La Salle University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines and in the University of Santo Tomas.