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Indie cinema fests Cinemalaya, QCinema announce finalists

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TWO OF the country’s most prominent independent film festivals are gearing up for their respective runs with both the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival and the QCinema International Film Festival releasing their respective rosters of films for their 2018 editions.

CINEMALAYA 2018 ENTRIES
For its 14th edition, Cinemalaya — considered the country’s premiere independent film festival — is producing 10 independent full-length films which will be featured in August at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and select cinemas.

Each film will be given a P750,000 grant from the CCP and the Cinemalaya Foundation.

The entries are:

• Ang Mga Bisita ni Mamang by Denise O’Hara, which delves into the story of Mamang, an old woman who hangs on to her memory to be with her unmarried middle-aged son.

Ang Pagbabalik ng Kwago by Martika Escobar, a fantasy about Leonor Reyes, the only female writer of Filipino action movies, who falls into an irreversible coma after an accident and is transported into the 1980s classic Filipino action flick which is playing on a TV at the hospital lobby.

Babae At Baril by Rae Red, about a girl’s life which changes drastically after finding a strange gun on her doorstep.

Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon by Carlo Enciso Catu which revolves around Teresa, an elderly woman living with her longtime partner Celso, who receives a call from her estranged husband who is seeking forgiveness from her and their son.

Kuya Wes by James Robin Mayo, is about a man working in a money transfer company who finds himself “in a relationship” with a regular client, a married woman who suffers from marital woes.

Liway by Kip Oebanda, is about a notorious NPA rebel in Negros whose beauty is legendary and her tactics, unparalleled.

ML by Benedict Mique, Jr., is about a young man who meets an old former soldier who, it turns out, cruelly tortured student activists during the Marcos regime. The young man’s life changes as he experiences all the martial law cruelties in one night.

Pan De Salawal by Che Espiritu tells the story of Sal, a lonely baker suffering from a chronic kidney stone who wants nothing but to die. Sharing his life along the riles (railroad tracks) are his neighbors — a barber with severe shakes, a former beauty queen with emphysema, a dancer paralyzed by stroke, and a macho meat vendor with tumor in his breast — who are all battling for dear life, hoping a miracle comes along the riles.

Pilot by Dexter Hemedez and Allan Ibañez deals with the challenging, painful, rewarding yet unrewarding world of soap opera writing.

Pinay Beauty by Jay Abello, a man with a huge debt to a loan shark learns he can settle the bill if he finds Lovi Poe and introduce the loan shark to the actress. How does a regular guy who knows no one in show business meet a celebrity?

QCINEMA
Despite being one of the newer independent film festivals in the country, QCinema managed to make a name for itself for producing award-winning films such as Sheron Dayoc’s 2016 film Women of the Weeping River which went on to win six awards at the Gawad Urian in 2017 including Best Picture and Best Director.

This year, QCinema is aiming to continue its success with the announcement of the five full-length entries and three documentary features. Full-length features each get P1.5 million in funding while documentary features each get P300,000.

This year’s QCinema runs from Oct. 21-30 in select cinemas.

The full-length film entries are:

Billie and Emma by Samantha Lee, looks into the depths of female friendship between a rocker girl forced to move to the province where she meets a model student and perfect daughter who suddenly gets pregnant. Together they go through the experience of first love and explore what it means to be a family.

DOG DAYS: Pinoy Hoop Dreams by Timmy Harn follows a half-black half-Filipino wannabe basketball star chase his hoop dreams.

Hintayan ng Langit by Dan Villegas, revolves around a woman coming to grips with her past while waiting for a spot in purgatory.

Masla A Papanok by Gutierrez Mangansakan II is a period film that goes back to 1892 when a giant bird mysteriously appears in Maguindanao foretelling the rise and fall of colonial empires.

Panata sa Bundok Gulsuk by Jordan dela Cruz is a dark coming-of-age story about a naive teenage boy who climbs to the peak of the mythical Mount Gulsuk to search for a cure for the mysterious, incurable disease that afflicts his pregnant girlfriend.

• Sila-Sila by Giancarlo Abrahan’s follows a gay man, who, while at a high school reunion, tries to avoid confrontations with people from his past, especially his drunk ex-boyfriend. And so he escapes through his dating app, meeting “strangers” in the vaguely familiar campus.

Meanwhile, the three documentary grantees are:

All Grown Up by Wena Sanchez which tells a story about what it means to help the people you love the most. After years of nurturing and protecting her younger brother, a filmmaker is forced to question her ability to help the people she loves when her own daughter begins to have troubles of her own.

Pag-ukit sa Paniniwala by Hiyas Baldemor Bagabaldo shows the journey of a third-generation master carver in transforming blocks of wood into a gigantic Jesus crucified on a 12-foot-tall cross, all set in a surreal portrait of Paete, a small artisanal town in the Philippines.

LUZVIMINDA by Shallah Montero looks into the Philippine drug war through the eyes of women. — Z. B. Chua