CINEMALAYA 2013: Surprises and Expectations

Remember last year when I kind of told you guys that there will be no CINEMALAYA for the year 2013? Guess what, it was just a prank (or better yet an online bugger had pranked me then I sort of pranked you after), because the association have just recently revealed the New Breed and Director's Showcase film entries!

The Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is a film competition and festival that aims to encourage the creation of new cinematic works by Filipino filmmakers – works that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity. It also aims to invigorate the Philippine filmmaking by developing a new breed of Filipino filmmakers. Each year, ten fresh talents are given a seed grant in order to create the film of their dreams. These films in the New Breed Full Length Category are then featured in festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines every July and compete for the coveted Balanghai Award. Awards are also given in the Short Feature Category and the Directors Showcase. Along with these competition films are an array of exhibitions that include Tributes to Past Indie Mavericks of Pinoy Cinema, a Cinemalaya Kids’ Treats, World Premieres of New Digital Works (the Cinemalaya/NETPAC Prize), and other modules. - Cinemalaya

The line-up goes as follows:

Director's Showcase Category:

Directed by Cesar Evangelista and written by Jerry Gracio
Assistant director and line producer is Armand Reyes
Set in the 16th century, “Amor Y Muerte” (which means “love and death”) is an examination of the initial encounter between the Indios (natives) and their colonizers (Spaniards) and their conflicting views on love, passion, religion, and sexuality. The roles — which include Spanish and Filipino brown hunks — call for nudity.

Director: Gil M. Portes
Writer: Senedy Que
Based on a real-life sports scandal, “THE LIARS” traces the incredible rise and the humiliating fall of a humble Filipino baseball team of young boys in an international baseball competition in the 1990s. Adult roles are already taken so the film only needs to cast a total of 18 characters for boys aged 10 to 14 years old who also know how to play baseball.

Written and Directed by Jerrold Tarog
A love story about a woman whose wedding is thrown into disarray when a mysterious person arrives and reminds her of the man she really loves. It is the third part of Tarog’s Camera Trilogy after “Confessional” (Cinema One Originals 2007) and “Mangatyanan” (Cinemalaya 2009). Up for casting grabs is the male lead role and several supporting parts. For inquiries, email anamarinella@gmail.com.

Directed by Adolfo Alix, Jr. and written by Ralston Jover
The story concept simply state that it’s a powerful story about individuals linked by pornography. Major roles are already taken but minor roles for several male actors and transgenders are yet to be cast.

Directed by Jeffrey Jeturian and written by Jeffrey Jeturian, Antoinette Jadaone, and Zig Dulay
Produced by Atty. Joji Alonso
A story about a woman who works as an “extra” or bit player in indie films. the film marks the indie film debut of Vilma Santos. There is no word yet from the production if their cast is complete or if it still needs a casting call.

New Breed Category

Written and Directed by Christopher Ad Castillo
A disgraced reporter seeks redemption by leading his documentary crew to spend one night and tell the story of what really happened at the haunted and infamous The Diplomat Hotel in Baguio City. The production is still looking for actors who can play a boy and a girl, both between 9 to 11 years old, and a 22-year old punk rocker and are all able to work under Baguio’s cold weather.

Written and directed by Hannah Espia
Produced by Paul Soriano
Moises, a single dad working in Israel, must now accompany his 4-year old son, Joshua, back to the Philippines after the Israeli government declared that children of foreign workers will be deported. The major lead actor’s part is already taken but several supporting characters are yet to be cast.

Written and Directed by Richard Soriano Legaspi
“Primera Bella” is the story of a young man haunted by a tragic past who escapes from his childhood to mend his ways and make up for all the wrongdoings he had done for the sake of his one true love, Bella. All major and minor roles are yet to be cast.

Written and directed by Joseph Israel Laban
Inspired by the actual story of one of the youngest mothers in Philippine history, “Siyam” follows the story of Krista who at the tender age of 9 got pregnant from the sexual abuse perpetrated by her own father. Her story is complex. Krista refuses to see herself as a victim. With an almost documentary style, “Siyam” follows Krista’s story as she demonstrates a level of resilience uncommon for her age. Her mother, on the other hand, is torn between her love for her child and her love for her husband. Lead and supporting roles are up for grabs.

Directed by Mikhail Red and written by Mikhail Red and Ian Victoriano
The story of a former 1980s film cameraman who now currently works as a movie pirate operating in present day Manila. He routinely smuggles a digital camcorder into movie theaters in order to illegally record films. One night he records something else. And the footage goes viral.

Written and directed by Jason Paul Laxamana
No logline or story concept submitted yet. Lead, supporting and special roles for male and female actors to be cast.

Written and Directed by Eduardo Roy Jr.
No logline or story concept submitted yet. Three transsexual roles and two supporting characters need to be cast

Written and directed by Carlo Obispo
A countryside dramedy that follows 14-year-old Diana and her younger brother who live by themselves after their mother went abroad and their father lived with another woman. Set in a remote purok or village, the film features the light side of country lifestyle as the main characters take advantage of the fun and thrills of the town festival to take hold of their sweet childhood. Numerous lead and supporting roles to be cast.

Directed by Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Palo
As per the “unofficial” story concept, the film is the story of the African-American soldier who sided with the Filipinos during the Philippine-American war. It’s a three-stories-in-one film about blacks.

Written and directed by Alvin Yapan
Story concept to follow. According to producer Alemberg Ang, they already have the cast, but if the need arises, they would look for back-up talents and actors who are fluent in Bicolano.

 Source: Interaksyon

I still don't have any comments about the line-up, well since this is only a line-up. I wouldn't even dare to say that I find the storylines quite intriguing since most of them constitute stories that have been told already by other independent films I have seen. The thing though is that it pretty much works that way; the film industry, independent or not, tend to rape a topic only with different angles and executions. Let us try not to jump into further conclusions as of now, because again, this is just a freaking line-up and most of them are still in the process of casting!

The big news so far. 

I had been searching the web for some information since the day I have learned about this list. I was so surprised to learn that big mainstream stars, let alone the fact that they are the ones who literally have stars (or gold) on their shoes accepted major roles for some of the films!

Yes, one of the greatest face of Philippine Mainstream Show Business,  Gretchen Barretto, will star on the New Breed film by Christopher Ad Castillo, The Diplomat Hotel. As how the news go, she is the top-pick of the director for the main role. I find this one entirely surprising since I have never imagined 'La Greta' going naked, spilling blood, or puking foul words for the sake of artistry. Not that I am doubting her skills, but rather her nature; she have built such a strong facade of class and elegance and it's really hard to at least peak on what might be lying beyond that. 

The Star For All Season (shall we say for All the Genre as well?) Vilma Santos will star on the Director's Showcase film by Jeffrey Jeturian, Extra. I am trying my very best to shake the idea that this is a bold movement to regain the Vilma-Nora cult fight since Aunor has recently starred on the indie film by Brillante Mendoza, Thy Womb (see my review here). She is considered of course, a solid institution in film and television, and that I think could be one of the greatest reason why she should venture the indie scene: she has a drizzle of stardom that will draw innocent people towards the beauty of artistry in independent filmmaking. And with that I am very very much happy about.

Photo from JudeBGallery

The juvenile demographic of young independent actors are on its peak on this year's Cinemalaya Film Festival. There are a good number of films on the line-up that demands child actors. I find this one really surreal since it literally breaks the notions that independent films are for adults only. How nice for it to hear a kid say "I am eight years old and I have my indie film already." and have it taken as normal as how it really is (and should be) since in the Philippine context it is close on saying "I am eight years old and I have shared a bed with Coco Martin". However, I don't expect pink bows and doll shoes for these kids, the change of casting is good but if it will entail a lighter attack on stories that got a whole trench on its heart, then that is when we should nag.

Cliche! Cliche! Not. Coco Martin isn't a farce, he is an institution. I have started my adherence on the independent scene mostly because of his films. Even though he has been spending much time on the mainstream television screens, his entry Santa Nina on last year's Cinemalaya Filmfest was a good evidence to prove that his talent had not fell any shorter than how it used to be. Plus, plus, plus... he's my crush! Oops.

I am expecting a great surge of supporters for this year's filmfest. Not only do the association and the filmmakers have been doing bold actions to uplift the independent scene, but I am quite sensing that Filipinos are slowly developing a good taste in film and the other class of arts. What if our golden butt really lies on filmmaking and not on money laundering propagating?

The CINEMALAYA Film Festival experience is one thing everyone shouldn't dare to miss. Film enthusiasts, hipster wannabe's, art lovers, social climbers, bandwagoners, I don't care about the social norms you are conforming with. As long as you support the local film industry then we are all good. And seriously, I myself is looking forward to CINEMALAYA than to my own debut!

The CINEMALAYA Film Festival 2013 will run on July 26 to August 4, 2013 with simultaneous screenings at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Greenbelt 3 and Trinoma. For more information, visit Cinemalaya.org.

All hail for the Philippine Cinema! See you there!

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