13 short films are set to participate and compete virtually in Cinemalaya 2021 and bag a coveted Balanghai trophy.
The Philippines’ largest independent film festival, the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, is set to return for its 17th year this year. Due to the pandemic, this year’s Cinemalaya has moved online with the 13 finalists being streamed on KTX. The thirteen short films will be divided into two bundles, with tickets priced at 150 pesos per bundle. This is the second year in a row that Cinemalaya has pivoted towards a digital platform to adapt to the times. Cinemalaya 2021 will run from August 6 to September 5. But Cinemalaya 2021 isn’t just offering the 13 short film finalists, there will also be a host of events and screenings held outside of the main competition.
OTHER ACTIVITIES AT CINEMALAYA 2021
First, Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video, the longest-running independent film and video competition in Asia will have another go around this year. There will also be Cinemalaya Retrospectives which will screen past entries from previous Cinemalayas. Visions of Asia will screen award-winning and crucially acclaimed movies from Asia. IndieNation will be a showcase of critically acclaimed full-length and short movies made in the last year.
There will also be a tribute to director Mel Chionglo, the former head of the Cinemalaya Competition and Monitoring Committee. Three of his best films will be screened during the festival. Cinemalaya 2021 will also be host to the book launching of Riding the Waves: 15 Years of Cinemalaya, a complete guide to the history of Cinemalaya. For a full guide of what to expect, check out Cinemalaya’s website.
Also, the independent film festival will be having the Cinemalaya Film Lab. This is a three-month-long film training and mentorship program from September to November 2021. According to Cinemalaya, they are having this because they noticed that recent submissions have been having predictable formulas and recurring themes like “gender, poverty, and social inequalities.” The film lab is meant to hone new talents for a more diverse 2023 edition when full-length films will be screened again in competition.
Finally, if you’re itching to watch these movies on the big screen instead of your phone or laptop, Cinemalaya has got you covered. Cinemalaya 2021 will be having a hybrid drive-in cinema at Liwasang Ullalim at the CCP complex. The drive-in will be called Cinema Under the Stars, and unlike most drive-ins, you can show up and watch even when you’re not in a car. Bikes, motorcycles, even jogging attire is accepted.
Over 200 short films were submitted for Cinemalaya 2021. The 13 films part of the main competition were all made during the pandemic and lockdown, so some of the movies’ themes reflect that. Here are the 13 short movies competing in Cinemalaya 2021.
An Sadit na Planeta (Directed by Arjanmar H. Rebeta)
One day, Arjan (played by the film’s director), is awoken by a mysterious voice. He finds himself alone on a small planet called Planet I. The movie follows Arjan as he explores the planet for 40 days. The movie is meant as a reflection of how the world felt smaller during the pandemic.
Ang Mga Nawalang Pag-Asa at Panlasa (Directed by Kevin Jay Ayson & Mark Moneda)
This documentary follows small Ilokano food business owners and entrepreneurs as they navigate and handle the challenges the pandemic brought to the food and service industry.
Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Lola Mayumi (Directed by Shiri De Leon)
Lola Mayumi (Ruby Ruiz) is made fun of in her town as an old virgin. Because of this, she decides to hire a young callboy (Julian Roxas). What initially was supposed to be a quick fling turns into something special when the two unexpectedly form a bond. According to the movie’s director, Shiri De Leon, the film will tackle taboo subjects related to women and sex.
Ate O.G. (Directed by Kevin Mayuga)
Ate O.G. was inspired by the director’s feeling of guilt he had during the lockdown. The movie follows, Ate, an old household helper, who is struggling to cope with the mundane of quarantine during the lockdown. She’s stuck at home with her two teenage employers who take out their negative feelings towards her.
Beauty Queen (Directed by Myra Aquino)
Set in Pampanga in the 1940s, Beauty Queen follows Remedios Gomez, the holder of the town’s beauty pageant crown. When the Japanese invade the Philippines and her father is tortured and killed for refusing to follow them, Remedios and her brother Oscar escape to the mountains where they join the Hukbalahap. But she soon discovers that not only is she still struggling with grief, she also has limited opportunities in the resistance because she is a woman.
Crossing (Directed by Marc Misa)
Gabriel is a security guard down on his luck. Desperate to get out of his situation, he decides to rob a bus. But before he can do it, two actual robbers board the bus. He now must decide whether to fight back or be a victim himself. Crossing is meant to tackle the idea that morality isn’t just simply black or white.
Kawatan sa Salog (Directed by Alphie Velasco)
The film follows Santi (Kyle Kaizer Almenanza), a young and misbehaved boy who steals a dinosaur toy. When he runs away from his home, he accidentally drowns in a river. He then wakes up on a mysterious island where he has the opportunity to redeem himself from his past deeds with the help of an old woman.
Kids on Fire (Directed by Kyle Nieva)
J.C. is a prepubescent boy part of a religious group preparing for the end of times. As he prepares to play his part, he struggles between his divine calling and his emerging sexuality. The movie actually premiered at the 25th Busan International Film Festival and the 47th Film Fest Gent.
Looking For Rafflesias And Other Fleeting Things (Directed by James Fajardo)
This fantasy drama is set in a community that thinks that the tikbalang is to blame for the recent spate of killings in the forest. Gubat, a tikbalang, decides to transform into a teenager to discover the truth. He soon meets an American botanist looking for rafflesias and he soon starts developing feelings for him. Director James Fajardo sees this movie as a way for him to dissect how folklore is used to bring down the less fortunate and introduce queer mythology into Philippines folklore.
Maski Papano (Directed by Che Tagyamon And Glenn Barit)
This comedy is about a discarded face mask that comes alive and tries to find its previous owner. After seeing that its old owner already has a better face mask, it wanders around Manila trying to find meaning in life. This movie comes from Glenn Barit, the director of the universally acclaimed Cleaners, and Che Tagyamon, an alumna of the Berlinale Talents 2019, SGIFF Southeast Asian Film Lab 2018, and Busan Film Commission’s FLY Film Lab 2019.
Namnama En Lolang (Directed by Jonnie Lyn P. Dasalla)
This documentary follows Lolang Keyag who lives in isolation with her baby grandson Eli. The movie follows both of them during lockdown as Keyag tries to be hopeful about the future. The movie stands out from the rest because it was shot entirely on a mobile phone.
Out Of Body (Directed by Enrico Po)
The film centers on Elle, a young model new to the industry. One day, she arrives on set of her first commercial job but learns that what was initially planned has now been changed. She discovers that it’s been turned into a mysterious and weird concept that hides something darker. Out Of Body is based on director Enrico Po’s own experience of forgetting to tell a young actress that a scene they were going to shoot involved BDSM elements.
The Dust In Your Place (Directed by David Olson)
One day, a comic strip illustrator sees an awkward fight between her writer and his girlfriend. The two then decide to talk and their conversation soon tackles a variety of topics. This then makes them realize that their careers and friendship are on the line.