Cinemalaya 2021 pushes on despite pandemic,13 short films compete for honors

By Ibarra C. Mateo

CINEMALAYA @ CCP: August means Cinemalaya film festival for Filipino indie lovers. PHOTO BY RODEL VALIENTE

While majority of Filipinos are gripped with the thrills of the country winning gold, silver, and bronze medals in the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a group of Filipino cineastes are equally excited, waiting for the 2021 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival to open today (Aug. 6).

Chris B. Millado, Cultural Center of the Philippines vice president and Cinemalaya festival director announced the 13 short films competing for the prestigious Balanghai trophies.

In an online media call, Millado said the films in competition for the 17th edition of Cinemalaya, which streams on from Aug. 6 to Sept. 5 are:

1/ An Sadit na Planeta (The Little Planet) by Arjanmar H. Rebeta;

2/ Ang Mga Nawalang Pag-asa at Panlasa (The Lost Hopes and Flavors) by by Kevin Jay Ayson;

3/ Ang Pagdadalaga ni Lola Mayumi by Shiri De Leon;

4/ Ate O.G. by Kevin Mayuga;

5/ Beauty Queen by Myra Aquino;

6/ Crossing by Marc Misa;

7/ Kawatan sa Salog (A Toy in the River) by Alphie Velasco;

8/ Kids on Fire by Kyle Nieva;

9/ Looking for Rafflesias and Other Fleeting Things by James Fajardo;

10/ Maski Papano (I Mask Go On) by Che Tagyamon and Glenn Barit;

11/ Namnama en Lolang (Grandmother’s Hope)

by Jonnie Lyn P. Dasalla;

12/ Out of Body by Enrico Po; and

13/ The Dust in Your Place by David Olson.

2021 CINEMALAYA opens today (Aug. 6, 2021). PHOTO BY RODEL VALIENTE


“An Sadit na Planeta” follows the adventure of a young man as he explores a little planet. “Ang Mga Nawalang Pag-As at Panlasa,” meanwhile, is a documentary on the quest of finding “pagkaing iloco” in the midst of a pandemic.

“In Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Lola Mayumi,” a virginal old woman hires a callboy to change her perspective about men. “Ate O.G.” is about a struggling aging house helper who finds herself going through an unexpected and uplifting experience.

A young woman struggles to find herself after losing her father during World War II in “Beauty Queen.” On the other hand, a desperate robber is forced to choose whether he should become a hero to his victims or fall victim to a robbery himself in “Crossing”.

“Kawatan sa Ilog” is about a mischievous child who learns the value of time and life as he finds his way back home to his father. “Kids on Fire” is the story of a prepubescent boy who discovers the power of his sexuality during a religious camp.

“Looking For Rafflesias And Other Fleeting Things” narrates how a “tikbalang” transforms into a teenage boy to disprove the rumor that horse demons are killing civilians in the mountain.

A disposed facemask turns into a humanoid and starts an adventure looking for its previous owner in “Maski Papano,” while a grandmother and her baby grandson find solace in each other and face the harsh reality of the pandemic together in “Namnama En Lolang.”

“Out Of Body” takes the audience in a macabre commercial shoot with a young model. Meanwhile, career and friendship are on the line when a comic strip artist tells her writer the truths about his relationships in “The Dust In Your Place.”

“On its 17th year, the film festival re-thinks its direction and strategy to remain significant in the contemporary time, while continuing to fulfill its mission of discovering, encouraging, supporting, training and recognizing gifted Filipino independent filmmakers,” the Cinemalaya organizers said.

While Cinemalaya has remained the vanguard of the Philippine independent filmmaking since its inception in 2005, the selection committee has observed that submissions for the main competition have become predictable and followed recurrent themes such as gender, poverty, and social inequalities, they said.

“To unearth new cinematic voices and develop a growing audience for independent cinema for its 2023 edition, the Cinemalaya introduces new direction and further expands its cinematic boundaries through the Cinemalaya Film Lab, a three-month-long film-laboratory mentorship program happening on September to November 2021,” organizer said in a statement.

If allowed under community lockdown health and security protocols, the CCP plans to open its ground with a hybrid drive-in cinema, dubbed Cinema Under the Stars, where film habitués can watch a film in the hybrid drive-in cinema at Liwasang Ullalim.

The first audience-centered on-site event since the lockdown, the hybrid outdoor cinema welcomes everyone, whether they are riding their cars or bikes, or even just walking and jogging.

2021 CINEMALAYA: The Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Lobby is all dressed up, despite the COVID19 pandemic, for the Aug. 6, 2021 opening of Cinemalaya, the country’s biggest indie film festival. PHOTO BY RODEL VALIENTE

Other Cinemalaya offerings

Meanwhile, the Cinemalaya mainstays remain. Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video, the longest-running independent film and video competition in Asia, will also continue its run this year.

Visions of Asia, one of the major components of the film festival, will screen award-winning indie films from Asia; while IndieNation showcases notable and critically acclaimed feature length and short films produced in the past year that will have a continued run at Cinemalaya.

Don’t miss out on other components such as the Cinemalaya Retrospectives, featuring past Cinemalaya films, and Cinemalaya Campus, among others. The film festival will also pay tribute to individuals who have made great contributions to the Philippine film industry, including director Mel Chionglo, former head of the Cinemalaya competition and monitoring committee with the screenings of three of his best films. 

Catch the Premieres, featuring full-length and short films which have been produced in the past year and will be screened for the first time in the Philippines, as well as the book launching of the “Riding the Waves: 15 Years of Cinemalaya,” a complete guide to the colorful history of the country’s biggest independent film festival.

The 2021 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is co-presented by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Cinemalaya Foundation Inc., in partnership with streaming partners and Kumu, corporate partners Huachen Bayfront Hotel, McDonald’s Philippines, Optima Digital, B+C Design Inc., and media partners Rank Magazine, Adobo Magazine, Our Awesome Planet,, ArtPlus Magazine, ClickTheCity, Business World Online, WeThePvblic, Philippine Primer, and the Manila Broadcasting Company. 

For more updates, please visit the CCP and Cinemalaya websites. Follow the official CCP and Cinemalaya social media accounts. ##

#Cinemalaya #Cinemalaya2021 #CCP #IndieFilm

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