By Eva Angeline Trinidad
Time to celebrate, movie buffs: Cinemalaya is back in the University of the Philippines.
For those unfamiliar with Cinemalaya, it is the Philippine Independent Film Festival and Competition held every July. Cinemalaya showcases original, artistic and often commercially risky projects of Filipino filmmakers.
Annually, 10 aspiring filmmakers are awarded grants to make the film of their dreams a reality. Their works in the New Breed Full Length Category compete for the Balanghai Award during the festival’s run at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Meanwhile, the films in the Directors Showcase and the Short Feature Category merit their own sets of awards.
The films then screen at the UP Film Institute during “Cinemalaya Goes UP.” Film-based organization UP Cineastes’ Studio was the first to bring Cinemalaya to the university as a project seven years ago, and over the years, several other UP organizations have helped present the films. The UP leg of the film fest runs from July 26 to 29 and from Aug. 2 to 5.
On Aug. 5, the Best Picture awardees will be screened at the UPFI, starting with Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (The Woman in the Septic Tank), winner of the Best Picture Award in the New Breed Full Length category, at 7 p.m.
The comedic film-within-a-film is directed by Marlon Rivera, and follows three ambitious and misguided filmmakers who attempt to bring to life a screenplay focused on the core of Filipino culture: poverty. They brainstorm many ways of presenting it – as a musical, a melodrama, a neo-realist film and a documentary – while not quite grasping the full effects of their topic. It is only when they visit the film’s major location, the Payatas dumpsite, that they are exposed to the reality of the seemingly abstract concept of poverty.
Following at 9 p.m. is Bisperas (Eve). Awarded Best Picture in the Directors Showcase category, the film delves into the story of the Aguinaldo family, whose house is found burglarized on Christmas Eve. The members of the family struggle to identify the missing items, but tensions arise as they also find out the issues and sentiments they have hidden from one another. In the middle of the strain the burglary brings, the Aguinaldo family realizes how much they have changed over the years.