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Cinemalaya: Props up artistic integrity, illuminates Filipino filmmakers' visions of nationhood

Cinemalaya Film Festival Director Chris Millado announces the opening of the 19th year of Cinemalaya Film Festival
The cast and crew of animation film Iti Mapukpukaw starring Dolly de Leon (center).
Online influencers pose on the red carpet during the opening night of Cinemalaya 19 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

The Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival has pushed the boundaries for creative expression in the last 19 years by avidly propping up artistic integrity and illuminating the Filipino filmamakers’ visions of nationhood.

Since 2005, Cinemalaya has continued to discover, encourage and support the cinematic works of upcoming and veteran Filipino filmmakers who boldly articulate and freely interpret the Philippine experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity.

“Ang Cinemalaya ay hindi lamang panonood ng pelikula kundi rin ito’y pakikisalamuha dun sa mga tinatawag nating mga pangkulturang manggagawa, cultural workers or creative workers ng cinema, tulad ng filmmakers, directors, cinematographers, actors,” Cinemalaya Festival Director Chris Millado shared in an interview during the Cinemalaya 19 opening night held at the PICC. 

[Cinemalaya is not just watching a movie but also engaging with what we call cultural workers or creative workers of cinema, such as filmmakers, directors, cinematographers, actors.]

Director Millado shared that unlike normal film viewing in a cinema where people will just enter the moviehouse and leave afterward, in Cinemalaya, the audience will be able to interact with the present filmmakers of the film, those who worked in front and behind the camera, and ask them about their insights of the film and things about filmmaking.

To date, Cinemalaya has supported and promoted the production of Filipino full feature independent films and short films. Many of these films have won awards in local and international competitions and festivals. Through the annual festival, Cinemalaya has showcased over 1,000 works by independent filmmakers including full feature films, shorts, documentaries, Filipino film classics, and art films.

Regional filmmakers dominate this year’s festival

According to Cinemalaya Festival Director Chris Millado, regional filmmakers outnumbered the filmmakers from Manila joining this year. 

“Meron tayong mga gawa at hindi lamang maririnig din natin ‘yung mga wika galing sa Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod, Bicol. Kaya talagang napakaraming kwento ‘yung nailahad at talagang ibang-iba ang lasa ng bawat pelikulang inihain sa atin ng ating filmmakers.” Festival Director Chris Millado shared during an interview at the opening night held at PICC. 

[We will also hear the languages from Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod, Bicol. That's why there are so many stories that have been presented and the taste of each movie served to us by our filmmakers is really very different.]

Following the theme “ilumiNasyon,” the country’s pioneering independent film festival returns with 10 full-lengths and 10 short films in competition, as well as other components that will secure a space for independent filmmakers to tell their stories and share their perspectives on the issues that shape our times, while capturing the audience’s imagination.

The 10 competing full-length films are: ANG DUYAN NG MAGITING (THE CRADLE OF THE BRAVE) by Dustin Celestino; AS IF IT’S TRUE by John Rogers; BULAWAN NGA USA (GOLDEN DEER) by Kenneth De la Cruz; GITLING by Jopy Arnaldo; HULING PALABAS (FIN) by Ryan Espinosa Machado; ITI MAPUKPUKAW (THE MISSING) by Carl Joseph E. Papa; MARIA by She Andes; ROOKIE by Samantha Lee and Natts Jadaone; TETHER by Gian Arre; and WHEN THIS IS ALL OVER by Kevin Mayuga.

Short films in competition include: ANG KINING BINALAYBAY KAG AMBAHANON KO PARA SA IMO (THESE RHYMES AND RHYTHMS MEANT FOR YOU) By Kent John D. Desamparado; GOLDEN BELLS By Kurt Soberano; HINAKDAL (CONDEMNED) By Arvin Belarmino; HM HM MHM By Sam Villa-Real And Kim Timan; KOKURYO: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BB. UNDAS 2019 By Diokko Manuel Dionisio; MAKOKO SA BAYBAY (I AM GOING TO THE BEACH) By Mike Cabarles; MAUDI NGA ARAPAAP (LAST DREAM) By Daniel Magayon; 


Additional genre participate in the competition category

Cinemalaya Film Festival Director Chris Millado shared that there will be a 90-minute animation film entitled Iti Mapukpukaw (The Missing), and a 75-minute documentary film entitled Maria joining the competition category for the first time.

Iti Mapukpukaw is a Filipino-Ilocano rotoscope animated film that follows Eric’s life as it twists and turns after the arrival of the familiar alien and his uncle's death; both trigger Eric to remember his past and untangle his memories.

Maria documentary follows three women named Maria after the bloodbath of Former President Duterte’s drug war. A staunch supporter turned victim, a wife & mother fighting for their rights, and a woman who became a beacon of hope.

Cinemalaya 19 takes place at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) this year

This year’s Cinemalaya 19 brought its brand of cinematic experience to the Philippine International Convention Center amidst the ongoing rehabilitation of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Main Building where the usual Cinemalaya Film Festival is usually held.

“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,” CCP President Margie Moran-Floirendo stated. 

For its 10-day run, the Cinemalaya films will be screened at three 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.

Film enthusiasts and festival fans will continue to enjoy the festival’s mainstays: Retrospective, lookback to winning films of past Cinemalaya editions; Best of the Festivals, which showcases the best films from local festivals; Visions of Asia, featuring award-winning Asian and Netpac films; Premieres, featuring never-before-screen films; and Dokyu, which screens award-winning documentaries.

The Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video, considered the longest-running independent film competition of its kind in the ASEAN region, 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 on August 5 to 7, at the CCP Tanghalang Ignacio B. Gimenez (CCP Blackbox Theater). Awarding will be on August 12.

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.

The cast and crew of the Cinemalaya opening film dark comedy thriller “Marupok AF (Where Is The Lie?)” directed by Quark Henares, starring Maris Racal and Royce Cabrera.

About the Author

Alaine Allanigue


National Capital Region

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