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NCCA, NCF launch Sine Halaga film festival

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (PIA)--The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in partnership with the Negros Cultural Foundation (NCF) held a virtual press briefer, August 24 for the launching of the Sine Halaga Film Festival, which showcases 12 Filipino films that highlight cultural values.

NCCA Executive Director Al Ryan S. Alejandre said, “The filmmakers convey authentic and inspiring Filipino stories guided by the values that mark a resilient nation. I am impressed and proud of what our 12 finalists have achieved. Mabuhay ang pelikulang Pilipino [long live Philippine Cinema]. ”

National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCAA) Executive Director Al Ryan S. Alejandre says the filmmakers of the Sine Halaga Film Festival convey authentic and inspiring Filipino stories guided by the values that mark a resilient nation during the NCCA Sine Halaga virtual press conference, August 24. (PIA-10)

As cited by NCCA, Sine Halaga tackles 19 Filipino values identified from a two-year research conducted by the agency to uncover insights on what Filipinos value at present, including personal values such as value of the self, life and purpose, resilience, happiness, and social values such as good governance, love for country, honesty and integrity.

“It is really an attempt of trying to highlight our culture that illustrates also the values that had been affirmed by the research that was done by the NCCA. Today, we are already harvesting already the efforts of trying to translate these values into creative works in these 12 films we have,” NCCA Deputy Executive Director Marichu Tellano said. 

For his part, Film Festival Director Elvert Bañares said the films will be made available to the public for free. Bañares also emphasized that each film was written to reiterate the importance of these Filipino values while depicting local customs and practices.

“Ang ating film festival ay may film education component, that is why it's going to run not only one year but up until kung kelan niyo gusto mapanood 'yung 12 films. Ang mga films natin ay streaming sa Vimeo on Demand, para hindi po madownload. Mayroon tayong simple steps na gagawin,” said Bañares.

(Our film festival has an educational component, which is why it's going to run not only for one year but up until when you still like watching the 12 films. The films will be streaming on Vimeo on Demand, so users won’t be able to download the films; you just need to follow some simple steps)

“We are organizing a series of webinars and preparing study guides to aid our teachers in discussing the films to their students. With the help of our teachers, we can articulate effectively the values that each film conveys,” Bañares said.

There will be live community screenings subject to public health protocols and under the guidance, authority and approval of the local government units (LGUs). The planned screenings are mapped out in Bacolod on August 25, Naga on the 28th, and soon in Pangasinan and Rizal. Starting September Sine Halaga’s first satellite screening will be held in Frankfurt, Germany, screenings will also be done online.

Sine Halaga poster

12 films selected

Sine Halaga received at least 100 entries from filmmakers nationwide and were screened by the festival jury during the selection process. The jury includes NCCA Committee on Cinema Chairperson Rolando Tolentino, film critic and educator Tito Valiente, award-winning Filipino filmmakers like Jeffrey Jeturian, Roy Iglesias, Sari Dalena, and National Study on Filipino Values author and lead researcher Arvin Villalon and co-author Jose Soliman, Jr.

The selection was done through a “blind selection” process, wherein the filmmakers’ materials had no names to avoid biases. With that, 12 stories were chosen and were awarded funds for production.

The 12 films are “Bakit ako Sinusundan ng Buwan” directed by Richard Legaspi, “Black Rainbow” directed by Zig Madamba Dulay, “Dandansoy” directed by Rod Arden Condez, “Hadlok” directed by Ralston Jover, “Looking for Rafflesias and other Fleeting Things” directed by James Allen Fajardo, “Lorna” directed by Noel Escondo; “Masalimuut Ya Tiyagew Ed Dayat” directed by Jan Carlo Natividad, “Mina’s Family History” directed by Christopher Gozum, “Sa Balay ni Papang” directed by Kurt Steven Soberano, “Salog ning Diklom” directed by Jordan Jose Dela Cruz, “Ugbos ka Bayabas” directed by Manuel Magbanua Jr., and “13 Feet” directed by Carlo Obispo.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in partnership with the Negros Cultural Foundation (NCF) holds a virtual press briefer for the launching of the Sine Halaga Film Festival which showcases 12 Filipino films that highlight cultural values, August 24. (PIA-10)

Filming in the time of pandemic

The filmmakers endured the challenges of filming amidst restrictions, Alejandre said. 

“Maraming challenges, dati nagsho-shoot ako ng mga films ko dito sa Antique, bitbit ko lahat ng crew from Manila. Kasama ko na iyon matagal na, pag-uwi dito for good, syempre ang challenges ko una ay saan ako kukuha ng crew, pangalawa, actors – always challenge 'yun dito sa amin kasi ang filmmaking dito very young pa talaga,” Manuel Magbanua, Jr, director of “Ugbos ka Bayabas” said. 

(There are a lot of challenges, when I was shooting my films here in Antique before, I brought my crew here from Manila. They have been with me for a very long time, now that I am home for good, the challenges were – first, where would I get a crew, second, actors which has always been a challenge here since filmmaking here is still very young)

Magbanua said the remedy to this predicament was that he and his wife run a production workshop back in Manila, “Write, Shoot, Cut, Play” since 2008 – they trained most of the newfound crew first on the fundamentals and intricacies of film production before they started filming.

Carlo Obispo, director of “13 Feet,” also shared that they had to pack up shooting dates because someone had tested positive for COVID-19 and raising additional funds.

“Lumalabas talaga ang pagiging resourceful ng filmmaker pag-ipit na ipit (A filmmaker’s resourcefulness will really come out when we are faced with extreme challenges,)" Obispo said. He added that the experience made him realize there can still be a lot that can be done even on limited resources.

Meanwhile, the filmmakers of “Black Rainbow” experienced a storm and landslide during their location shoot.

All 12 films were produced following health protocols set by the national government and LGUs. 

Sine Halaga organizers believe that streaming the films online is an effective way of reaching the younger generation to empower them with values that are positively Filipino.

Sine Halaga will kick off the online film festival, August 25 at 6:00 p.m., which will broadcast live on https://www.facebook.com/sinehalaga page. This also marks the world premiere of the 12 films via Vimeo OnDemand and the NCCA Learning Resources Hub website. (SAYU/PIA-10)

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