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SINGKIT - Notes from the editor - The Philippine Star

For ten days each year, the Cultural Center of the Philippines packs them in; this year was no exception, as nearly 75,000 people trooped to the CCP – in the rain and through the traffic – to watch over 70 films in competition and on exhibition at the 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. Cinemalaya was largely responsible for putting the term “indie” into our vocabulary, pushing the genre to the forefront of our viewing experience with such groundbreaking films as Aureus Solito’s “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” from the festival’s initial run in 2005. This year, cinemas in Greenbelt, Trinoma and Alabang Town Center were satellite venues for Cinemalaya films.

The CCP rarely sees such throngs of people queueing up at the box office and at its five screening venues: students in between or after classes (we hope nobody cut class to watch films!), office workers catching the late shows (last screening was at 9 pm), movie industry people, dressed down executives, sosyaleras (some came with alalays in tow, especially when it was raining), artists and culture workers...

In its early years, Cinemalaya targeted new filmmakers, giving them a chance to make the movie in their mind with a production grant. The movies featured unknown actors, often friends and relatives of the directors, as there was no budget for stars. This proved to be a good thing, because the movie as a whole – and not some big name – was the star. And it has helped launch the careers of the likes of Eugene Domingo, in last year’s surprise hit “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank.”

This year is no different – among the gems in this year’s cast are Krystle Valentino in “Purok 7,” a graduate of the Philippine High School for the Arts, whose face mirrored a gamut of emotions without the slightest hint of theatrics; Ping Medina in “Transit,” a natural who owned the screen in practically every scene; and Mimi Juareza in “Quick Change,” who had audiences in a gender guessing game all the way to awards night, when in a stunning gown he picked up the Best Actor trophy. 

But as the festival grew in stature and fame not just locally but internationally, the big names wanted in too. The Directors Showcase, which was added as a competition category in 2010,  has drawn the likes of Adolf Alix Jr., Raymond Red, Jeffrey Jeturian and Gil Portes. This year’s winner Jerrold Tarog (“Sana Dati”), who also won Best Score under a pseudonym, got his start at Cinemalaya several years ago. The big stars came too – Vilma Santos returned to the screen from the Batangas governor’s office via “Ekstra,” not surprisingly the festival’s top-grosser. Eddie Garcia has done two films for Cinemalaya – “ICU Bed #7” in 2005 and last year’s “Bwakaw,” for which he won Best Actor. Doing an indie – specifically a Cinemalaya – film has become a jewel in one’s resumé.

But I know that Cinemalaya has arrived when my colleague told me that her son overruled her choice of “Wolverine” in favor of Cinemalaya’s “Instant Mommy,” and then tweeted “Watching Instant Mommy...with my mommy.”


The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.  Psalm 19:7-10

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