Sundance winner Leonor Will Never Die sets Cinemalaya 18 in motion

Charmie Joy Pagulong - The Philippine Star
Sundance winner Leonor Will Never Die sets Cinemalaya 18 in motion
Some of the filmmakers and cast members of the films participating at the Cinemalaya 18 Philippine Independent Film Festival 2022 grace the red carpet during the opening ceremony
STAR / File

Amid the heavy traffic, rain and flood waters that hit the metro on Friday night, film enthusiasts, guests and filmmakers trooped to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Pasay City to witness the Cinemalaya 18 Philippine Independent Film Festival 2022 opening program.

The cast members and directors of the full-length and shorts features participating in this year’s competition graced the red carpet during the opening night. National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts Ricky Lee, director Martika Ramirez Escobar of Sundance-award winning Leonor Will Never Die and the key persons of the Cinemalaya Foundation were also present.

National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts Ricky Lee.

Produced by ANIMA and Arkeo Films, Leonor Will Never Die (Ang Pagbabalik ng Kwago) debuted in the Philippines at the film festival’s opening night.

The film also marked the full-length directorial debut of direk Martika. “Parang kaming niyakap. Cinemalaya has been a huge part of my life as a film lover — simula nung high school as an audience hanggang nung screening ng thesis ko at ngayon sa first feature,” she said in a statement.

Cinemalaya Foundation president Laurice Guillen.

“Katabi ko ang Cinemalaya every step of the way and so I’m so happy na dito unang maipapalabas ang pelikula namin!” she added.

As per description, Leonor Will Never Die focuses on stage veteran Sheila Francisco’s titular character, Leonor, a major player in the Filipino film industry in the ‘80s, who falls into a coma before finishing her final screenplay. When she regains consciousness years later, she struggles to complete her magnum opus while navigating life in an entirely new environment.

Sundance award-winning Leonor Will Never Die director Martika Ramirez Escobar

According to the press notes, the film “has been lauded by critics here and abroad for its meta storytelling that combines a fever dream premise with a postmodern reality topped with sharp dialogue delivered by an outstanding ensemble.”

The film bagged the Sundance Special Jury Award for Innovative Spirit at the Sundance Film Festival 2022 and was screened in various countries, including Czech Republic, Switzerland and Taiwan.

In a Facebook post, direk Martika said that the Cinemalaya screening was the “most memorable screening ever.” “Pati warmest crowd with the pinakamalakas na hiyawaan at palakpakan. Maraming salamat! Buhay na buhay ang pelikula namin dahil sa inyo.”

Anyone interested to hold a film screening of Leonor Will Never Die in school, offices and events may e-mail [email protected].

Dubbed “Breaking through the Noise,” the 18th Cinemalaya edition returned to live on-site screening after two years of pandemic hiatus. There are 11 full-length films and 12 shorts features competing.

Among the full-length film entries are The Baseball Player by Carlo Obispo; Retirada by Cynthia Cruz-Paz and Milo Alto Paz; Kargo by TM Malones; Kaluskos by Roman Perez Jr.; Ginhawa by Christian Paolo Lat; and Bula sa Langit by Sheenly Gener.

Blue Room by Ma-an L. Asuncion-Dagnalan; Batsoy by Ronald Espinosa Batallones; Bakit Di Mo Sabihin? by Real Florido; Angkas by Rain Yamson; and 12 Weeks by Anna Isabelle Matutina are also participating.

The shorts category has the following finalists: Ampangabagat Nin Talakba Ha Likol (It’s Raining Frogs Outside) by Maria Estela Paiso; Black Rainbow by Zig Dulay; City of Flowers by Xeph Suarez; Dikit by Gabriela Serrano; Distance by Dexter Paul de Jesus; Duwa-Duwa by Nena Jane Achacoso; Kwits by Raz de la Torre; and Mata kang Busay (Vision of the Falls) by Niño Maldecir and Cypher John Gayorgor.

Also in the competition are Mga Handum Nga Nasulat sa Baras (The Dreams That Are Written In The Sand) by Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay and Richard Jeroui Salvadico; Roundtrip to Happiness by Claudia Fernando; See You, George by Mark Moneda; and Si Oddie by Maria Kydylee Torato.

John Lloyd Cruz is the official portrait photographer of the Cinemalaya 2022.

The film screening is ongoing at the CPP until Aug. 14; in select partner cinemas nationwide, from Aug. 10 to 17; regional community spaces from Aug. 22 to 29; and virtual screening from Oct. 17 to 31 via CCP Vimeo account. Check out Cinemalaya’s social media accounts for the details of the film screening schedules.

The Cinemalaya 18 Festival Pass is available at the CCP Box Office, Ticketworld and SM Tickets.


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