Championing the Philippines’ creative diversity, these regional film festivals from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao will let you bask in the multi-faceted Filipino culture.
The vibrance of the Philippine national cinema rests on the colorful and diverse stories that storytellers from all around the country hold and are waiting to be told. While the threat of globalization and the increasing pervasiveness of international content still looms, competing with the efforts of Filipino creatives, especially those marginalized in the regions, there are local initiatives which highlight regional cinematic voices that need and deserve to be heard. Here are some of the regional film festivals that strive to do just that.
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Cinema Rehiyon Film Festival
A non-competition film festival, Cinema Rehiyon is the flagship project of the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts’ (NCCA) National Committee on Cinema (NCC), which gathers the best of films and filmmakers from the regions. It’s also a roving festival, which means that it opens in different provinces and cities around the country every year. Last February, the NCCA launched the 14th edition of Cinema Rehiyon with the theme, “Katilingban. Kalibotan. Kabag-ohan.(Society. World. Change.)” which highlights cinema as a tool for social change. Being a hybrid edition, Cinema Rehiyon 14 held physical events in Davao city, online screenings nationwide via the NCC’s Vimeo on Demand platform, plus some online talkbacks and fora. Want the best of regional (and international) cinema? Cinema Rehiyon has got your back. You can access some of the last edition’s entries here for free.
Ngilngig Asian Fantastic Film Festival
Based in Davao City, the Ngilngig Asian Fantastic Film Festival embodies the Visayan spirit of ngilngig, a local expression that is associated with something fantastic and/or terrifying. Since 2010, Ngilngig has evolved from being a horror-specific event to a festival that celebrates everything with the ngilngig factor: films from the country and Asia with fantastical stories that promote and preserve one’s culture, traditions, myth, and history. Organized by Pasalidahay, Inc., a Davao-based film collective of filmmakers and film enthusiasts, Ngilngig holds its eighth edition this year with a four-day event that will run from October 27 to October 30, in Cinematheque Centre Davao, Davao City. If you’re one of those horror film buffs, this festival is for you. Visit Ngilngig’s website to know more about the fest.
Pelikultura: The Calabarzon Film Festival
Organized by the University of the Philippines Los Baños and PelikuLAB, Pelikultura aims to provide a space for Region IV-A’s emerging and established independent filmmakers. As part of NCCA’s Cinema Rehiyon project, Pelikultura seeks to foster and share a “Calabarzon Cinema” with the country and the world. Apart from screenings, Pelikultura also offers online filmmaking workshop series that lets viewers learn more about the aspects of filmmaking from directing, production design, producing, to film criticism. Head on to Pelikultura’s Facebook page here to know more about its advocacies.
Another effort to bolster the creative voices from the regions, the CineKabalen Film Festival aims to spotlight the cinematic talent from Pampanga and the Central Luzon region. From screenings of short films from the region to lecture series about the film industry, CineKabalen also features its unique Culinary Cinema section, which encourages filmmakers to highlight and promote the culinary traditions and practices from the region.
CineKasimanwa: The Western Visayas Film Festival
Through its launch in 2013, CineKasimanwa became the first festival to be a space for the filmmakers from Region VI, featuring experimental, documentary, animation, full-length, and short films from the Panay Islands and Western Visayas. CineKasimanwa’s aim is to be a “film festival that is truly Ilonggo and West Visayan in its truest sense,” reconnecting regional filmmakers from Iloilo, Bacolod, Capiz, Aklan, Antique, and Guimaras Islands to their cultural roots and uplifting local cinema as a tool for social change and progress. This year, CineKasimanwa celebrates its 10th edition as it holds online and face-to-face screenings and film, literature, and media talks about cinema and its power in preventing and combating disinformation and historical distortion. Stay tuned to the festival’s page for its exciting slate of events this year.
Mindanao Film Festival
Established in 2003, Mindanao Film Festival is the longest-running regional and independent film festival in the archipelago. Previously known as the Guerrilla Filmmaking Festival, Mindanao Film Festival is organized by the Mindanao Film & Television Development Foundation Inc. whose overarching goal is to promote and support Mindanaoan cinematic voices and talent, and showcase the diverse and important stories from the region. This year, the festival is already in its second decade and is currently accepting submissions for its program in December.
Hailed as one of the best film festivals last year by the Society of Filipino Film Reviewers, Binisaya Film Festival seeks to foreground the Cebuano sensibility and provide a venue for filmmakers from the Visayas. Founded by acclaimed filmmaker Keith Deligero, Binisaya not only showcases regional cinema but also includes international titles in its lineup featuring films from as far as Ukraine, Iran, Brazil, India, Afghanistan, and from our Southeast Asian neighbors. This year, you can enjoy 10 hours of films from all over the world through their Vimeo platform here.
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