This article is part of my industry report during my school year at Busan Asian Film School. I intend to update the article from time to time.
Cinemalaya is considered the country’s biggest independently produced film festival; its aim is to develop and promote independent films, and it has supported and promoted the production of full-feature independent films and short films, especially those that are made by young and new filmmakers.
Each year the festival provides seed investments at least 20,000 USD each for ten films presented during the festival, during which it also screens international films, mostly from southeast Asia. It gives a NETPAC award in the best Asian film category.
When it started in 2005, it managed to attract the attention of students and the academe/education sector. Many of the films made under the sponsorship of Cinemalaya have won awards in both local and international competitions and festivals. Most students from the greater Metro Manila area fall on the market audience for this festival. It has been consistent in gathering the biggest audience attendance among the local festivals.
Festival programmers and industry people from around the world have been attending this yearly festival. There is an annual film market section in Cinemalaya but focuses on equipment and services exhibition. Previous Cinemalaya films are now on iflix.
In 2006, on its first year, Cinemalaya took pride in Auraeus Solito’s The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros when it won the Teddy award for best feature film at the Berlin International Film Festival. It was shown in cinemas in over 100 countries and won numerous international awards. The story is about a gay boy torn between his love for a young policeman and his loyalty to his family. 2006 was also the year when the local film industry labeled the identity of Filipino films as “neo-realism.
In 2017, young filmmaker Sonny Calvento’s first film, Nabubulok, premiered as an entry to the Cinemalaya 13th edition; a few months later, Calvento stepped up in the global scene as his film started winning in international film festivals. In 2018, he won as Best Student Director and Best Student Producer at the Hanoi International Film Festival.
In 2019, Cinemalaya gears up with ten new and young filmmakers who will compete for the coveted Cinemalaya trophy. Iska by Theodore Boborol; John Denver Trending by Arden Rod Condez; ANi by Kim Zuñiga and Sandro del Rosario; Belle Douleur (A Beautiful Pain) by Joji V. Alonso; Malamaya by Danica Sta. Lucia and Leilani Chavez; Annak Ti Karayan (Children of the River) by Maricel Cariaga; Ward by Thop Nazareno; Pandanggo by Sheryl Rose M. Andes; Tabon by Xian Lim; and, Fucc Bois by Eduardo Roy, Jr.
In 2016, Roy directed the film Pamilya Ordinaryo, Cinemalaya Best Film and Director winner last year. In that same year the film has won and nominated to international film festivals; Venice, Tokyo Filmex, Stockholm, IndieLisboa, Asia Pacific Screen Awards and Five Flavors of Asia.
This year 2019, John Denver Trending is a big winner of Cinemalaya winning the Best Picture, Best Actor, Netpac Award, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score. This film is a product of FDCP’s First Cut Lab held April this year, while it’s in development stage.
After being a writer in ABS-CBN, this has become Condez’ first feature film. Cinemalaya announces next year entries during the awards night and by September, they start casting at CCP Manila.
In a span of one year they have time to join development labs and apply for additional fundings.
Amidst the pandemic, Cinemalaya set its 16th year of Philippine Film Festival. In August 12 of 2020, Tokwifi won the Best Short Feature Film and the NETPAC awards. The award was given in a live ceremony with restrictions of the IATF in place at the Cultural Center of the Philippines but streamed simultaneously through the organization’s Facebook page, Vimeo, and KUMU.
Following the festival, Cinemalaya curated short films streamed online. Iska is now on Netflix beginning October 8, 2020.
Furthermore, Cinemalaya released the 2021 full length feature films finalists that can be seen on their social media.
The film and movie industry continues to adapt and started showing films digitally.