Cinemalaya tackles ‘the big picture’

Amadís Ma. Guerrero - The Philippine Star
Cinemalaya tackles �the big picture�

MANILA, Philippines - It’s August, the wettest month. Rainshowers every day, tropical depressions come and go. It’s the time of the year for Cinemalaya (Philippine Independent Film Festival), the signature annual event of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

Actually the pace-setting filmfest opened last Aug. 4, with the acclaimed Birdshot by Mikhail Red before a big crowd at the CCP’s Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (main theater). It is easy to see why the film won many awards abroad. It’s a gripping, in-your-face story of two crimes: The killing of a Philippine Eagle by a young girl and an attack on a bus filled with exploited labor unionists.

There were felt performances by the four leads: John Arcilla, Arnold Reyes, Ku Aquino and the young May Joy Apostol who, during the tumultuous photo shoots which followed the show, was treated like a rock star.

The theme of the film festival was “see the big picture.” Although Cinemalaya has many features interest was, as always, mainly focused on the full-length features, the main competition. The setting, cultural practices depicted, and the language were all distinctly Filipino but themes — like coming of age — were universal.

There were nine full-length films in the running: Ang Guro kong Di Marunong Magbasa, directed by Perry Escaño; Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha by Mes de Guzman; Bacunaua by Joseph Israel Laban, Bagahe by Zig Dulay; Nabubulok by Sonny Calvento; Kiko Boksingero   by Thop Nazareno; Requited by Nerissa Picadizo; Respeto by Treb Monteras II; and Sa Gabing Nanahimik ang mga Kuliglig by Iar Leonel Benjamin Arondaing.

Here we have children who go off to war, family conflicts, the sea reclaiming the lives of fishermen, an OFW abandoning her baby in an airplane’s toilet, a lonely orphan bonding with an estranged father, a missing wife, an ailing biker on his last adventure, and two poets trying to write amidst a violent world of hip-hop.

Excitement is growing as the awards night on Aug. 13 nears. Which film would be chosen the best? The choices, according to the specialist, are narrowed down to three: Respeto, Kiko Boksingero and Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha.

It’s anybody guess which film will win, but Respeto seems to have the edge. So, see you at the movies and tune in on Sunday!

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