In case some of you are wondering why I am giving a spot feature to the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, your blogger is also a self-confessed indie movie buff who enjoys watching flicks that have moderately off-mainstream appeal. This year, the line-up is particularly special with the presence of some big-name stars as well as plots that are both ground-breaking and innovative in appeal. Do check out seven of the more interesting opuses below:
courtesy of QuantumFilmsProdn
Vilma Santos stars in her first indie movie and Jeffrey Jeturian has the honor of directing her in this one. “Ekstra” (The Bit Player) is a socio-realist drama-comedy which follows a seemingly usual day in the life of Loida Malabanan (Vilma Santos) as she embarks on yet another shooting day of a soap opera as an extra. As the shoot goes on, we get a glimpse of the truth in the ruling system of the production as well as the exploitation on the marginalized laborers like her.
The project is made more luminous with the cameo appearances of Piolo Pascual, Marian Rivera, Cherie Gil, Cherrie Pie Picache and Pilar Pilapil playing their real selves.
courtesy of Christopher Ad. Castillo
The first directorial debut of Christopher Ad. Castillo (yes, he is the son of the late renowned director) takes pride in having Gretchen Barretto – another indie first-timer – in the lead. “The Diplomat Hotel” is about Victoria Lansang (Barretto), a popular news reporter who has been requested to mediate a hostage crisis. And in front of a national television audience, something horribly goes wrong and people are killed while Victoria suffers a mental breakdown. A year later, she’s eager to get back into the game but the only assignment she can get is to do a documentary on the last night of The Diplomat Hotel in Baguio City, a crumbling and abandoned building infamously known for its bloody past and its hauntings and has carved a place in Philippine ghost lore. Looking for redemption, she arrives there with her crew and they start filming. But as they get deeper into the night, the place starts to exert its will on them and they find out exactly what monstrous evil awaits at The Diplomat Hotel.
courtesy of QuantumFilmsProdn
What do you get with the combination of Cinemalaya favorite Eugene Domingo and Japanese actor Yuki Matsuzaki (who has starred in a string of Hollywood films like Letters from Iwo Jima)? Director Leo Abaya’s “Instant Mommy“!
In order to solve a personal predicament, Bechayda (Domingo), a wardrobe assistant in TV commercials, pretends to be pregnant.
The film is one summer’s journey with her as she reaches the fateful decision amidst a highly visualized world where the video screen not only reigns supreme but is also the frame within which a usually unsuspecting public accesses the content of image-makers.
courtesy of Joseph Israel Laban
This is going to be the most controversial entry for 2013, I reckon. Coming from one of GMA-7’s most prolific documentary filmmakers – Joseph Israel Laban – “Nuwebe” is inspired by the actual story of one of the youngest mothers in Philippine history. It follows the story of Krista who at the tender age of 9 got pregnant from the sexual abuse perpetrated by her own father. Her story is complex. Krista refuses to see herself as a victim.
With an almost documentary style, “Nuwebe” follows Krista’s story as she demonstrates a level of resilience uncommon to her age. Her mother on the other hand is torn between her love for her child and her love for her husband.
The movie stars TV child performer Barbara Miguel as Krista, with the support of Anita Linda, Jake Cuenca and Nadine Samonte.
courtesy of MyCinemalaya
“Debosyon” is from Director Alvin Yapan and stars Paulo Avelino and Mara Lopez (yes, the daughter of Ma. Isabel).
Mando, a Bikolano devotee of Ina, Virgin of Peñafrancia, Patroness of Bikolandia, injures himself in the middle of the forest at the foot of the Mayon Volcano. He will be nursed back to health by a mysterious woman, Salome, living there. They will fall in love with each other. But when Mando invites her to come with him to the plains, Salome refuses, saying a curse prohibits her from leaving the forest. Salome holds a secret that will devastate Mando’s love for her. Mando relies on his devotion to the Virgin of Peñafrancia to lift the curse, making him realize just how inextricably linked are the virtues of love and faith.
courtesy of Jerrold Tarog
From one of my favorite indie film directors who has successfully crossed mainstream, Jerrold Tarog is bringing “Sana Dati (rough literal translation: Wish Before) to the festival. Lovi Poe, Benjamin Alves, Paulo Avelino and TJ Trinidad star in this one.
Andrea Gonzaga (Lovi Poe) has accepted her fate by agreeing to marry a man she does not love. But a few hours before her wedding, someone arrives to remind her of the true love she once had and lost. “Sana Dati” is a love story about bittersweet compromises and real-life decisions. It is the third part of Jerrold Tarog’s Camera Trilogy after Confessional and Mangatyanan.
Lastly for this group, there is “Quick Change” which is the second directorial effort of Eduardo Roy, Jr. who brought us the memorable “Bahay Bata” a couple of years back.
courtesy of B0nfire Productions
This movie is about the life of Dorina a middle-aged transsexual looking for his niche amidst the complexities of the world he is in. This is a story of suffering, acceptance and hope.
“Quick Change” casts newcomer Mimi Juareza in the role of Dorina. He is joined by Miggs Cuaderno and Junjun Quintana.
Cinemalaya 2013 (Philippine Independent Film Festival) will run from July 26 to August 4, 2013 with the main venue at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) plus simultaneous showings at select Ayala Mall cinemas. If you’re up to it, then better plan on buying tickets to the more anticipated movies (like Ekstra, Instant Mommy and The Diplomat Hotel) ahead of time so you don’t have to get stuck in long lines for the same.
Do watch out for it, and let’s keep on supporting the local indie filmmaking industry! 🙂