Cinemalaya at Ayala Malls
MUNTINLUPA, Philippines - Officials of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), together with Ayala Malls representatives, gathered with filmmakers, writers, and cineastes on Saturday, July 27, at the Alabang Town Center, the latest venue to take part in the 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.
Rhia Arda, marketing manager of Ayala Mall Cinemas, expressed pride in being part of this enterprise upholding Philippine cinema.
“We hope to continue opening one mall per year for Cinemalaya,” she says. “It’s actually our independent films that reflect all kinds of happenings in society shown in different perspectives, all of which are significant to elevating national consciousness.”
Simply a love story
The highlights of this event were the screening of Babyruth Villarama-Gutierrez’ happy-sad documentary, “Jazz in Love,” which premiered at the CCP the day before, and Emmanuel Palo’s visual feast of historical fiction, “David F.”
The story of “Jazz in Love” is presented from the perspectives of a German national who finds love in Facebook, to which he invests so much time and money, and his Filipino boyfriend from Davao who showers his lover with all the affection he could muster from his heart.
“It is a story of life and love,” says Villarama-Gutierrez, who explained in her opening remarks at the CCP premiere that she considers this simply a love story. “Every little scene contributes to the whole of it,” she told Rappler. “And we really didn’t take sides. They are both friends of mine from school.”
“David F.” relays parts of the Filipino-American war that were “reduced to insignificance,” says Palo.
These are only two of Cinemalaya’s 25 films in its 3 competition categories – the New Breed full-length and Short Feature categories for new directors, and the Directors Showcase for the more established directors.
This happy partnership between Cinemalaya and Ayala Malls is the brainchild of Nestor Jardin, president of the Cinemalaya Foundation and former CCP president. “This is where filmmakers of all ages are free to experiment,” says the renowned dance artist and cultural worker.
Jardin says he's impressed with the way filmmakers capture the movements and expressions of their actors, along with the visual scheme of their films. “Many facets of dancing are shared not just by film, but probably by all forms of art.” He deems such exploration to be integral for any craft to evolve, and is happy with the increase in patronage through the years.
The films had a steady patronage that night, prompting Jardin to broach the idea of expansion to Ayala Cinemas. Cinemalaya was first screened outside the CCP in 2011, at Greenbelt 3. The competing entries then rivaled tickets sales for the Harry Potter and Marvel films. Around 60,000 tickets were sold in 2012, and this has inspired the organizers to target ticket sales of 70,000 this year.
Tess Rances, deputy festival director, said Cinemalaya has been conducting outreach programs in the rural communities where there is a thriving film culture. All this has been undertaken in the goal of maximizing all possible venues, as Cinemalaya fosters films that celebrate history, culture, and Philippine cinema itself.
“This support is a good way of rejoicing in this great talent that resides within us,” says Rances. Cinemalaya's stepping out of its home base, the CCP, is to make its films “widely accepted in the country and accessible to the Filipino.”
Rances encourages the youth to promote the films online, affirming that exposure in cyberspace is the way to get ahead.
This phenomenon of our time solidifies the fusion of indie and mainstream cinema, with A-list actors themselves validating through their participation the “maindie” hybrid.
Arda urges the general population to embrace the freewheeling creativity of these films – which depart from the formulas of melodrama while still at times upholding its spirit. “Don’t be intimidated!” she says. “Whether you laugh, cry, or scream, you will be entertained at the end of the day.”
Independent films, through the years, have helped restored honor for Philippine cinema in the global stage. Shouldn’t we be in solidarity behind that small collective enterprise affirming that art is, above all, the Filipino's forte? - Rappler.com
Carla Camille L. Mendoza has worked as an operating room nurse, has written and produced segments for TV, and has been involved in publishing at her alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas. She is currently writing magazine features and is preparing to study law.
Cinemalaya runs until August 4 at the CCP, TriNoMa, Greenbelt 3, and Alabang Town Center. An Awards Night at the CCP will cap this festival on that date. The screening schedule is available here.