The Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is one of the most-awaited film events in the country. Each year, the foundation gives grants to promising scripts, and screen them during the week-long festival held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Through the years, Cinemalaya has produced internationally-renowed films like Jay, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, Transit, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa, Endo, Donsol, Engkwentro, and many more.
Now, Cinemalaya will be back for its 12th run from August 5 to 14, with its theme Break the Surface. The festival will go back to its roots sponsoring full-length films, after sponsoring only short films last year after an investor backed out.
We list down the full-length films competing this year, with a brief synopsis, courtesy of Cinemalaya’s Facebook page:
1. Ang Bagong Pamilya ni Ponching
Directors: Inna Salazar and Dos Ocampo / Writer: Inna Salazar
Cast: Janus del Prado, Ketchup Eusebio, Odette Khan
Synopsis: A religious man who does petty crimes, Ponching, gets into a new venture, text scamming, thinking it will not really hurt anyone. One day, his seemingly “innocent” text scam accidentally cons a recipient into thinking he is the bastard child of their late relative.
2. Dagsin (Gravity)
Writer and Director: Atom Magadia
Cast: Tommy Abuel, Lotlot De Leon, Benjamin Alves, Janine Gutierrez, Sue Prado, Marita Zobel. Introducing Alex Diaz
Synopsis: After surviving the Death March, Martial Law and the loss of his legs, Justino became an atheist. But when his wife dies, a part of him is yearning to believe in life beyond death; just for a chance to be with her again. Searching for parts of her he can still hold on to, he devours her diaries for information into their past –opening a Pandora’s Box of secrets.
3. Hiblang Abo
Director: Ralston Jover / Writers: Ananias Estrella and Ralston Jover
Cast: Lou Veloso, Jun Urbano, Nanding Josef, and Leo Rialp; with Matt Daclan, Lui Manansala, Anna Luna, Angela Cortez, Mike Liwag, Flor Salanga, Rener Concepcion, Bernard Carritero, Cherry Malvar, and Rommel Luna.
Synopsis: Hiblang Abo speaks volumes of muted memories and infinite struggles among four men in their twilight years, confined in a hospice facility or home for the aged. Their gray hair grows and fades unnoticed, their lives enter the void of oblivion. Everything unfolds so naturally into their swan song until their body pains and heartaches yield the same intensity, when their hearing and their feelings become permanently impaired; and when their blurry vision and memories become “clear” signs that the inevitable state of death is as fleeting as the vibrancy of life itself.
4. I America
Writer and Director: Ivan Andrew Payawal
Cast: Bela Padilla, Matt Evans, Thou Reyes, Joe Vargas, Sheena Ramos, Rob Rownd, Kate Bautista, Raflesia Bravo, Rhyzza Kafilas
Synopsis: I America is a dramedy about a complex half-Pinay, half-Caucasian lady looking for American living in Olongapo City (Philippines) who tries to get her passport and US visa in order to meet her father personally for the first time.
5. Kusina (Her Kitchen)
Director: David Corpuz / Writer-Director: Cenon Palomares
Cast: Judy Ann Santos, Luis Alandy, Joem Bascon, Elora Españo, Mike Liwag, Isha Salic
Synopsis: Kusina (Her Kitchen) is the silent witness to the life and love of Juanita. It is her sanctuary, the place where she creates dishes for her family, her friends, even enemies and strangers. Through cooking, she gets to know the people around her, and in return, reveal herself to them.
6. Lando at Bugoy
Writer and Director: Vic Acedillo, Jr.
Cast: Allen Dizon and Gold Azeron, with actors from Davao and Cagayan de Oro — Rachel Anne Ang Rosello, Maricar Semitara, Carlos Penaloza, Benjie Criss Estrella, Reynald Mangao, Camilo Apugan, Roger Gonzales
Synopsis: Disrespected by his teenage son, a 40-year-old high school dropout tries to solve this problem by returning to school which only makes his son hate him even more. Amidst the struggle between them, an unexpected event changes everything.
7. Maselang Bahaghari
Director: J.E. Tiglao / Writers: J.E. Tiglao and Boo Dabu
Synopsis: Adam is a 14-year old charming and introvert boy, born with the secret of having both male and female genitals. As an intersex, he finds himself embarked and lost in a painful transformation — a journey that takes him into the physical and spiritual limits of gender identity and into the ambiguities of fate and desires.
8. Mercury is Mine
Writer and Director: Jason Paul Laxamana
Cast: Pokwang and Bret Jackson, with Vincent de Jesus, Maey Bautista, Kristof Garcia, Leo Sarmiento, Justine Dizon, Bea Vega, Mitzi Ong, Waka Hasegawa, Uzziel Delamide
Synopsis: Carmen, a middle-aged cook, is about to close down her eatery at the foot of Mt. Arayat when a white American teenage boy named Mercury approaches her and begs for work in exchange of nothing but shelter.
9. Pamilya Ordinaryo
Writer and Director: Eduardo Roy, Jr.
Cast: Ronwaldo Martin
Synopsis: Jane and Aries are teenage parents. They make a living out of stealing on the streets… until fate hits back at them.
Director: Derick Cabrido / Writer: Denise O’Hara
Cast: Nora Aunor, Barbie Forteza, Flor Salanga, Ronwaldo Martin, Elora Españo, Ronnie Martinez
Synopsis: Pina-ilog (Nora Aunor) is chosen to be their village’s “Binukot,” a maiden selected as the fairest amongst the women in her village, confined to her house, never allowed to go outside. She is chosen to keep the traditions alive, memorizing the chants, dances, and performing them.
She is to pass the title and responsibility to her granddaughter Dowokan (Barbie Forteza). When the sanctity of the “tuos” becomes threatened, putting Dowokan in danger, Pina-ilog realizes that she cannot just stand aside. Pina-ilog finds herself coming face to face, literally, with the ghosts of tradition, which have shackled her into a life of solitary confinement.
What are you excited to watch? Share your thoughts below!