EJK docu leads Cinemalaya 2023’s roster

For the first time since its inception in 2005, the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival has a documentary and an animated film in its roster of 10 full-length features competing for top honors, including best picture.

The list of finalists in its 19th edition was formally introduced in a press conference yesterday, 5 July. It was attended by Cinemalaya Foundation president Laurice Guillen, festival director Chris Millado and competition chairman Jose Javier Reyes. Also present was Cultural Center of the Philippines artistic director Dennis Marasigan.

Cinemalaya 2023 runs from 4 to 13 August. It will have screenings at the Philippine International Convention Center and Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez (also known as CCP Black Box Theater). It will also have screening slots at partner venues Ayala Cinemas and SM Cinemas.

10 full-length films

Maria by documentarist Sheryl Rose Andes follows the real-life story of a woman who lost her husband and child to extrajudicial killings. When This is All Over, directed by Kevin Mikhail Mayuga with elements of animation, is about the unexpected friendship that developed during a lockdown at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic between two young adults from opposite ends of the economic spectrum.

Rookie, whose story revolves around volleyball players, is jointly directed by Samantha Lee and Natts Jadaone. Ang Duyan Magiting by Dustin Celestino is composed of anthology of scenes that depict war, terrorism and politics. It stars Dolly de Leon, Bituin Escalante, Agot Isidro, Miggy Jimenez, Jojit Lorenzo, Frances Makil-Ignacio, Paolo O’Hara, Joel Saracho and Dylan Ray Talon.

‘Rookie,’ a volleball flick.

As If It’s True by John Rogers tackles the blurring line between real love and exploitation between a social media influencer and a struggling musician. Gitling by Jopy Arnaldo is about a young interpreter/translator working on the Ilonggo subtitles for a Japanese film who forms a friendship with the film’s Japanese director. Huling Palabas tells the story of a 16-year-old boy who finds solace in old VHS tapes to reconnect with his long-lost father.

‘ITI Mapupukaw’ stars Dolly de Leon.

Bulawan Nga Usa (Golden Deer) by Kenneth dela Cruz is about a young man who tries to escape reality by going up a mountain, but ends up treading between mystery and self-discovery. Iti Mapupukaw (The Missing) by Carlo Joseph Papa is also about a young man going through a major life change but involving aliens. Lastly, Tether by Gian Arre replaces Killing Time in Manila Traffic by Paul Sta. Ana.

Aside from full-length film category, there is the short film category in Cinemalaya. This year’s entries are Ang Kining Binalaybay Kag Ambahanon Ko Para Sa Imo by Kent John Desamparado; Golden Bells by Kurt Soberano, Hinakdal by Arvin Belarmino; HM HM MHM by Sam Villa-real and Kim Timan; and Kokuryo: The Untold Story of Bb. Undas 2019 by Diokko Manuel Dionisio.

Also making the cut are Maudi Nga Arapaap (Last Dream) by Daniel James Magayon; Makoko sa Baybay by Mike Cabales; Sibuyas ni Perfecto (Perfecto’s Onion) by Januar Yap; Sota by Mae Tanagon; and Tong Adlaw Nga Nag-Snow sa Pinas by Joshua Caesar Medroso.