The rise of digital films
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - March 31, 2006 - 12:00am
Last year saw the rise of digital films, with at least two making waves abroad, Brilliante Mendoza’s Masahista and Aureus Solito’s Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros. This year more and more digital films are being made, giving young and new directors, mostly talented, much deserved breaks.

Cinemalaya, Cinema One Originals and Viva continue to support the making of digital films, which they started last year.

Cinemalaya is giving P500,000 seed money to each of the 10 winners of the scriptwriting contest it conducted late last year, thanks to the generosity of Tonyboy Cojuangco of ABC 5. The winners have started production work on their scripts. In 2005, Mr. Cojuangco also subsidized Cinemalaya, which came up with such gems as Maximo Oliveros and Doy del Mundo’s Pepot Artista.

Cinema One Originals is open to all filmmakers, be they new or old, provided the theme of their projects is innovative, cutting-edge. Dennis Marasigan’s Sa North Diversion Road is a Cinema One Originals winner last year.

Viva has come up with a number of very good digital films, among them Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos’ Ilusyon, graded A last year by the Cinema Evaluation Board.

Urian, Film Academy of the Philippines, FAMAS, Star, Enpress awards and other award-giving groups, taking note of the boom in digital films, have included them on the list of 2005 movies to be honored in the coming months.

Columnist-critic Mario Bautista, writing in S magazine, said, "Honestly, we believe that there are better realized digital films made than the usual 35mm."

In Mario B’s Best Films for 2005, five are digital films, also known as indies, small budgeted (not more than P1-M), topbilled by stage artists and some mainstream stars, mostly given modest honorarium or even gratis et amore.

They are: Ilusyon, Masahista, Maximo Oliveros, Sa North Diversion Road and Mario Cornejo and Monster Jimenez’s Big Time.

The three mainstream films on his list are Joel Lamangan’s Blue Moon, Erik Matti’s Exodus and Jeffrey Jeturian’s Bikini Open.

As expected, some of Mario B’s Best Performers for 2005 come from digital films. His choices are published in S mag.

Best Actress: Irma Adlawan for Sa North Diversion Road, Ana Capri for Ala Verde Ala Pobre, Meryll Soriano for Roomboy and Jaycee Parker for Ilusyon – digital films all. Cherry Pie Picache for Bikini Open and Zsa Zsa Padilla for Ako Legal Wife.

Best Actor: Yul Servo for Ilusyon, Winston Elizalde for Big Time, Ebong Joson for Ala Verde Ala Pobre, John Arcilla for Sa North Diversion Road, Eddie Garcia for ICU, Coco Martin for Masahista, Ricky Davao for Pusang Gala and Carlo Aquino for Tuli.

Almost all digital lineup but for Bong Revilla for Exodus and again Eddie Garcia for Blue Moon, entries to the Metro Manila Film Festival.

Best Supporting Actress: In this category there are only two from digital films, Irma Adlawan for ICU and Rio Locsin for Pepot Artista.

Mainstream performers on Mario B’s list are Hilda Koronel and Gloria Diaz for Nasaan Ka Man, Jennylyn Mercado for Blue Moon, Assunta de Rossi for Mourning Girls and Francine Prieto for Bikini Open.

Best Supporting Actor: Again digital films dominated the list. Tado for Pepot Artista, Soliman Cruz for Maximo Oliveros, Andoy Ranay for Bathhouse, Allan Paule for Masahista, Lito Pimentel and Cholo Barretto for Sa Aking Pagkakagising sa Kamulatan, Alcris Galura for Mga Pusang Gala and Nor Domingo, Michael de Mesa and Jamie Wilson for Big Time. Christopher de Leon and Dennis Trillo for Blue Moon.

In the technical aspects, Mario B cited Albert Banzon and Odyssey Flores for the cinematography of Daan Patungong Kalimugtong and Ilusyon, respectively. For production design, Mario B singled out Cesar Hernando for Pepot Artista, Danny Red for Ilusyon and Joey Luna for Blue Moon – all three are period films.

Come awards nights, let’s see if indie queen Irma Adlawan will win over the Divine Diva Zsa Zsa Padilla. Or if Coco Martin will upstage Bong Revilla or Eddie Garcia.

(E-mail reactions at

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