Now at PICC, Cinemalaya  to screen first documentary  and animated entries

The 19th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival will screen 10 full-length films in its Main Competition category, including one documentary and one animated feature for the first time.

Also for the first time, the country’s most prestigious indie film festival will be held outside the Cultural Center of the Philippines building, which is undergoing rehabilitation.

Organized by the CCP and the Cinemalaya Foundation, Inc., the 10-day Cinemalaya will run at the nearby Philippine International Convention Center, located inside the CCP Complex in Pasay City, from 4 to 13 August.

“We hope to retain the unique community spirit of the festival, which was one of the main considerations when we were deciding on the venue. If we look at the history of the convention center, PICC is quite conducive for film screenings, having hosted the Manila International Film Festival in the 1980s,” said CCP president Margie Moran-Floirendo.

Cinemalaya festival director Chris Millado. | Photograph by Roel Hoang Manipon for the Daily Tribune

According to Cinemalaya festival director Chris Millado, the new venue is not only not far removed from Cinemalaya’s home, but PICC also has an affinity to the film festival, having been designed, like the CCP Main Building, in the same Brutalist style by National Artist Leandro Locsin and having served as the venue for early film festivals in the country.

CCP vice president and artistic director Dennis Marasigan revealed that Cinemalaya may be held at the PICC for the next three years.


Several firsts

Aside from new venue and certain films included, there are many new developments for this year’s Cinemalaya.

“The 19th batch of full-length filmmakers who are recipients of seed grants from the Cultural Center of the Philippines also received for the first time a counterpart amount of one million (pesos) each as additional seed grant from the Film Development Council of the Philippines. In addition, the FDCP has also awarded P100,000 each to the 10 shorts in competition,” announced Laurice Guillen, Cinemalaya Foundation president.

The veteran filmmaker revealed “other firsts for this batch.”

“First, the semifinalist underwent the first film lab of Cinemalaya, a training project designed by the Cinemalaya Film Institute to better prepare the first-time feature filmmakers in all aspects of filmmaking,” she said.

“Second, the films were hatched during the pandemic. From writing, submission, selection and
pre-production, the conception and development of this project took place during this period of uncertainty. In fact, the entire competition process was conducted through video conferencing, including the film lab,” Guillen added.

“So, we are curious to see the effects and the influence of the pandemic on their films. That is what we look forward to in the 19th edition of Cinemalaya, apart, of course, from the film viewings, exhibits, conferences, talkbacks to the filmmakers and the coffee-shop discussions that we enjoy so much.”


The full-length films

This year’s Main Competition films include two firsts — Iti Mapukpukaw (The Missing), written and directed by Carl Joseph E. Papa; and Maria, written and directed by She Andes.

Featuring the voices of Carlo Aquino, Gio Gahol and Dolly de Leon, Iti Mapukpukaw is a rotoscope animated film in Filipino and Ilocano. It follows Eric, an animator, as he meets a mouthless guy he likes, and deals with the death of his uncle and the arrival of a familiar alien who wants to take him away from earth.

The first full-length animated film of Cinemalaya, ‘Iti Mapukpukaw.’ | Photographs courtesy of cinemalaya

This is Papa’s third animated film. His first full-length animated film, Manang Biring, competed and won the top prize at the 2015 Cinema One Originals Film Festival, and was shown at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France in 2016. His second animated film, Paglisan, was also screened at the same festivals in 2018.

On the other hand, Cinemalaya’s first documentary, Maria, follows three women named Maria in the time of Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody drug war — a staunch supporter turned victim, a wife and mother fighting for their rights, and a woman who became a beacon of hope.

The filmmaker is a development worker and educator who has made several documentary films that have received recognitions from Sineng Pambansa, Gawad CCP para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Bidyo, Ethnocineca in Vienna and DocEdge Kolkata.

‘Bulawan nga Usa’ (Golden Deer), written and directed by Kenneth de la Cruz.

The other competing feature films are Ang Duyan ng Magiting (The Cradle of the Brave), written and directed by Dustin Celestino; As If It’s True, directed by John Rogers and written by Rogers and Shane David; Bulawan nga Usa (Golden Deer), written and directed by Kenneth de la Cruz; Gitling, written and directed by Jopy Arnaldo; Huling Palabas (Fin), written and directed by Ryan Machado; Rookie, directed by Samantha Lee and written by Natts Jadaone; Tether, written and directed by Gian Arre; and When This Is All Over, directed by Kevin Mayuga and written by Abbey Mayuga-De Guia and Benedict O. Mendoza.

Juan Karlos Labajo in ‘When This Is All Over.’

Notable actors involved in these films include internationally acclaimed Dolly de Leon, Bituin Escalante, Agot Isidro, Juan Karlos Labajo, Khalil Ramos, Ashley Ortega, Adrianna So, Gabby Padilla and Mikoy Morales.


The short films

Filmmaker Jose Javier Reyes, Cinemalaya Main Competition and Monitoring chairman, said they received more than 150 entries and expressed delight at getting many films from different parts of the country aside from Metro Manila.

The short film finalists include Ang Kining Binalaybay kag Ambahanon ko Para Sa Imo (These Rhymes and Rhythms Meant For You), directed by Kent John D. Desamparado and written by Crispel Jhun Ducay from Negros Occidental; Golden Bells, written and directed by Kurt Soberano; Hinakdal (Condemned), directed by Arvin Belarmino and written by Belarmino and Kyla Romero; Hm Hm Mhm, written and directed by Sam Villa-Real and Kim Timan; and Kokuryo: The Untold Story of Bb. Undas 2019, written and directed by Diokko Manuel Dionisio.

Also in competition are Makoko sa Baybay (I am Going to the Beach), written and directed by Mike Cabarles from Pangasinan; Maudi nga Arapaap (Last Dream), directed by Daniel Magayon and written by Angelika Espejo; Sibuyas ni Perfecto (Perfecto’s Onion), written and directed by Januar Yap from Cebu; Sota (Horse Caretaker), written and directed by Mae Tanagon; and Tong Adlaw nga Nag-Snow sa Pinas (The Day It Snowed in the Philippines), written and directed by Joshua Caesar Medroso from Davao City.

Screenings and other events

The screenings of these competition films form the core of Cinemalaya, but the festival also screens many other films, categorized into “Retrospective,” consisting of winning films of past Cinemalaya festivals; “Best of the Festivals,” which showcases the best films from local festivals; “Visions of Asia,” featuring award-winning Asian and Netpac films; “Philippine Premieres” and “Special Premieres,” featuring never-before-screen films; and “Dokyu,” which showcases award-winning documentaries.

Other screenings include the opening and closing films, Next Gen Shorts, Tribute, Remastered Masters, and EyeFlx.

The Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video, considered the longest-running independent film competition of its kind in the Southeast Asia, will once again harvest the best of the best, with films competing in various categories such as Short Feature/Narrative, Experimental, Documentary and Animation. Pre-selected entries will be screened from 5 to 7 August at the CCP Tanghalang Ignacio B. Gimenez (CCP Black Box Theater). Awarding will be on 12 August.

Cinemalaya’s live events include the red-carpet opening on 4 August; the awards night on 13 August, the so-called Cinemalaya Campus with talkbacks and fora; exhibits of ephemera, portraits and posters; a film industry conference and one on Asian Film Alliance Network; a trade fair; book launches; and parties and gatherings.

The Cinemalaya films will be screened at three PICC meeting rooms — Cinema Rizal (Meeting Room 1), Cinema Bonifacio (Meeting Room 2 and 3), and Cinema Felipe (Meeting Room 4). Fringe events and talkbacks will be held at Cinema Palma (Meeting Room 5). The exhibitions and filmmakers’ profiles will be on display at the Executive Lounge.

For more information, visit CCP website ( and Cinemalaya website ( Follow the official CCP and Cinemalaya Facebook pages and other social media accounts in Twitter, Instagram and Tiktok.