The eighth Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival begins on July 20 this year, and there is much to look forward to.
First, the controversy surrounding casting decisions which was responsible for Emerson Reyes's "MNL 143" going it alone is no longer an issue for the organizers.
In fact, following the Young Critics' Circle awarding an acting prize to Diana Zubiri for her work in a Cinemalaya film last year, monitoring committee member and producer Robbie Tan told GMA News Online that he felt “vindicated.” (The YCC, ironically, issued a statement critical of the Festival's organizers when the row broke out, and Zubiri, accepting the prize, explicitly thanked Tan.)
There are also other things to expect. In remarks given at a media event at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last June 28, festival organizing committee member and CCP artistic director Chris Millado said that a retrospective of the work of the recently departed Mario O'Hara would take place at the festival.
The film program features 10 short films, 10 films in the New Breed category, and five films in the Directors' Showcase, including Jose Javier Reyes's first Cinemalaya film and Raymond Red's "Kamera Obscura," a silent film set in a reimagined 1920s Philippine film scene.
Millado told GMA News Online that the schedules for screenings will be announced sometime in early July on the festival website.
Apart from the films, three gatherings will take place in the context of Cinemalaya.
The first is the Cinemalaya Independent Film Congress on July 24-25, a forum to discuss issues relating to independent cinema.
The second is the Manila Film Financing Forum on July 21, which tackles film financing and possible business models.
Finally, the Made in the Philippines 2012 Film, Animation and Gaming Congress, from July 26-27, will gather animators based in the country and will feature a keynote address by Ralph Guggenheim of Pixar Animation Studios.
The festival's New Wave category will also feature a couple of films about the lives of the upper middle class.
Gino Santos's "The Animals" is set in the world of private parties and clubs, where young people tend to gather―and then face the consequences.
Santos said the film is based on real stories of open parties held in the Valle Verde area in Pasig and other locations in the north. “[The concept for the film] was stuck in my head [since high school],” said Santos, “but recently, after a workshop with [screenwriter] Bing Lao, doon ko naipagpatuloy yung script.”
The film, he said, is a synthesis of events he witnessed firsthand and those that happened to friends or those that were reported in the news.
To complete his cast, Santos said he met up with the potential actors to “see how they talk, and see how they are outside the conference room.” He even went as far as go clubbing with them. "We had a couple of drinks and we had kwentu-kwentuhan, para hindi formal [yung proseso]," he said.
The other film in this category is music video director Marie Jamora's debut film "Ang Nawawala," which is about finding love and learning about one's self amid the independent music scene in Metro Manila. Its trailer features the music of all-female indie band Flying Ipis.
Visual art, photography
But there is more to see apart from the films.
The art advocacy not-for-profit CANVAS and the CCP will present, starting July 14, a retrospective of social realist art to mark the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law.
The recently deceased comic book artist Tony DeZuniga will be the featured artist on the fourth floor, where a retrospective of his work with DC and Marvel, including his most famous character Jonah Hex, is on display. It also includes never-before-exhibited sketches of his concepts for video game designs by Sega Entertainment in the 1990s.
Rick Rocamora, a documentary photographer based in the US since the 1970s, has an exhibit of his work at the third-floor passage above the Main Theater lobby. He was involved in the progressive movement in the early 1970s, and has been documenting aspects of the human condition both here and abroad, especially in the US and in Latin America.
Noteworthy are selections from his pictures of Filipino-American veterans struggling for recognition and compensation from the government. Some of his work was used in the video for “The Apl Song,” written by Black-Eyed Peas member and Filipino-American rapper apl.de.ap.
Apart from screenings at the CCP, Cinemalaya films will also be shown at the Greenbelt 3 cinemas as in past years. Cinemalaya screenings will also be held at the Trinoma mall and at the UP Film Center.