The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and Cinemalaya Foundation, Inc. showcase a myriad of human interest stories in the forthcoming 2023 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.
The festival launched Friday, August 4 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) within the CCP Complex. It will conclude with an Awards Night on Sunday, August 13. The best short film will receive the Balanghai Trophy and P150,000 cash prize.
Of the 192 submissions, 10 entries emerged as finalists for this year’s Short Film Category—three of which were written and directed by the homegrown talents of the Digital Filmmaking (DFilm) Program of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.
Kokuryo: The Untold Story of Bb. Undas 2019 by graduating student Diokko Manuel Dionisio follows the adventures of a trans pageant queen and her best friend on a mission to get to the bottom of a missing cash prize.
From fighting against drunkard transphobes to being summoned to the Barangay Hall, it takes the viewers into an emotional rollercoaster on how transgender women navigate the night.
“The LGBTQIA+ community still experiences discrimination because of their SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression),” said Dionisio. “It is also important for the audience to know and understand the cultural and material violence they continuously live through.”
In HM HM MHM, creative duo Sam Villa-Real and Kim Timan explored the concept of playtime in highlighting the challenges of closing a traumatic chapter from the past.
The mixed media work introduces a young lady who returns to her ancestral home and rediscovers her makeshift dollhouse. With one touch, she breathes life back into her tiny dolls who replay an all-too-familiar story.
“In this film, I want to explore that same feeling of isolation of being a closeted LGBT child navigating through self-discovery in a very Christian home,” said Villa-Real. “I want to digress further into my childhood and soothe the inner child that once wondered if she will ever truly be free.”
“We want to speak to the survivors of domestic abuse in a way that even children will understand,” Timan added. “And hopefully, it resonates with them as much as it does with us.”
Makoko Sa Baybay by Mike Cabarles, an homage to the artist’s Pangasinense roots, narrates the fleeting moments in the daily lives of two siblings who visit the beach to find the sea creature who took their mother.
Traversing the boundaries of reality and fantasy, it studies the essence of innocence and death amid one’s constant longingness for companionship, warmth, and comfort.
“It acts as a bridge for the audience to see the desires of the youth,” Cabarles explained. “It is important to reexamine the effects of maternal and/or paternal absence, which is oftentimes neglected. As youth, we always want to seek answers—we dearly long for love and affection.”
The other competing films include Tong Adlaw Nga Nag-snow Sa Pinas by Joshua Caesar Medroso, Golden Bells by Kurt Soberano, Hinakdal by Arvin Belarmino, Ang Kining Binalaybay kag Ambahanon ko para sa imo by Kent John Desamparado, Maudi Nga Arapaap (Last Dream) by Daniel James Magayon, Sibuyas Ni Perfecto (Perfecto’s Onion) by Januar Yap, and Sota by Mae Tanagon.
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/CinemalayaOfficial.
To learn more about Benilde DFilm, visit https://www.benilde.edu.ph/undergraduate-film.