What to expect in this year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival

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This year's Cinemalaya Film Festival, themed "Break the Surface," features nine full-length films and 10 short films.

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — With the theme “Break the Surface,” the 12th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival is bound to go above and beyond with all kinds of narratives both comfortable and hard-hitting for Filipinos.

The nine feature-length entries for the Cinemalaya Award are as follows:

  • Ang Bagong Pamilya ni Ponching,” directed by Inna Miren Salazar and Dos Ocampo, tells the story of the title character Ponching (Janus del Prado), a text scammer who unintentionally convinces a rich family that he is the estranged son of a rich relative.
  • In “Dagsin,” directed by Atom Magadia, Justino (Tommy Abuel) has become an atheist after surviving World War II and multiple suicide attempts. But after the death of his wife, Corazon (Marita Zobel), he spends years to find a way to be with his wife once again. A judge during the Martial Law era, Justino is now taunted by his conscience and must pass judgement on his wrongdoings.
  • Hiblang Abo,” directed by Ralston Jover, chronicles the twilight years of Huse (Lou Veloso) and his friends and their time in a hospice facility. After his friends all leave the home for tragic reasons, Huse finds solace in a femme fatale and relives memories of him and his friends’ fleeting past.
  • In “I America,” directed by Ivan Andrew Payawal, Erica (Bela Padilla) is working to complete her American visa requirements so she can travel to meet her father for the first time. However, she encounters problems with her identity and becomes all the more troubled when her father visits her in Olongapo.
  • Kusina,” directed by by David Corpuz and Cenon Palomares, narrates the tale of Juanita (Judy Ann Santos) from the moment she realizes her passion for cooking as a child. With her kitchen as her refuge and silent witness, Juanita learns more about the people and the world around her as she creates dishes for those who stop by.
  • In “Lando at Bugoy,” directed by Vic Acedillo Jr., Lando (Allen Dizon), a 40-year-old high school dropout, is loathed by his 15-year-old son, Bugoy (Gold Azeron). Bugoy, who has not been attending his classes, convinces his father that he will stay in school only if Lando completes his education as well. Father and son both struggle to stay in school and keep their relationship from falling apart.
  • In “Mercury is Mine,” directed by by Jason Paul Laxamana, Carmen (Pokwang) is about to close down her unpopular eatery at the foot of Mt. Arayat when a mysterious American, Mercury (Bret Jackson), asks her for work in exchange for shelter. With a blond-haired boy at her restaurant, business suddenly booms. Carmen becomes possessive of Mercury and prevents him from leaving when she discovers his unfortunate past.
  • In “Pamilya Ordinaryo,” directed by Eduardo Roy Jr., a teenage couple, Jane (Hasmin Kilip) and Aries (Ronwaldo Martin), live by themselves and get by as pickpockets in the deranged streets of Metro Manila. Their future changes when they unintentionally become parents and they are forced to do the unexpected when their child is taken away from them.
  • In “Tuos,” directed Derick Cabrido, Pinalog (Nora Aunor), an old Antique binukot (a maiden kept by her tribe in solitary confinement), was chosen as a child to be the gatekeeper of her culture’s oral tradition. When the time comes for her to pass this role on, her granddaughter, Duwokan (Barbie Forteza), refuses to let her fate be chosen for her. But when Duwokan falls in love and the sanctity of her tuos is threatened, Pinalog decides to fight for Duwokan’s right to her own life and is confronted by the tradition that has kept her alone.

Cinemalaya 2016 Presscon This year’s Cinemalaya includes films featuring performances by (from left), Benjamin Alves (“Dagsin"), Bela Padilla ("I America"), and Bret Jackson ("Mercury is Mine"). Photos by DENISE FABELLA

As for the Short Feature Category, the 10 entries are: “Ang Hapon ni Nanding” by Rommel Tolentino, “Ang Maangas, Ang Marikit at Ang Makata” by Jose Ibarra Guballa, “Bugtaw” by Noah Del Rosario, “Butas” by Richard Cawed, “Fish Out of Water” by Mon A.L. Garilao, “Forever Natin” by Cyrus Valdez, “Get Certified” by Isaias Herrera Zantua, “Mansyong Papel” by Ogos Aznar, “Pektus” by Isabel Quesada, and “Nakauwi Na” by John Relano, Patrick Baleros, and Luis Hidalgo.

This year, Cinemalaya will be screening its films in Ayala Center Cebu from Aug. 9 to 14, as well as in its main venue at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and at its satellite locations in Greenbelt 3 and Glorietta in Makati, Trinoma and UP Town Center in Quezon City, and Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, from Aug. 5 to 14.

The festival’s additional sections will include Festival’s Best, Asian Showcase, Documentaries, and Cinemalaya Institute Showcase. The longest-running independent film festival in the ASEAN region, Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video, will have its 28th run at Cinemalaya as well.

Viewers will also be able to see screenings of films from Afghanistan, China, Germany, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Turkey. Cinemalaya will also feature films from Japan through its newly formed partnership with the hitherto separately held Eiga Sai Japanese Film Festival. The films “Ken and Kazu” by Hiroshi Shoji and “August in Tokyo” by Ryutaro Nakagawa, in particular, will be added to Cinemalaya’s Asian Section and will be screened for free.

The Special Screenings Section will showcase the works of industry game changers who have been given outstanding recognition both locally and internationally in the past year. It will feature Lav Diaz’s short “Ang Araw Bago ang Wakas” and eight-hour epic "Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis," winner of the Silver Bear at the 2016 Berlin Film Festival, Nick De Ocampo’s documentaries “Eiga” and “Gunita,” and a retrospective on the work of this year’s Cannes Film Festival best actress, Jaclyn Jose.

Cinemalaya 2016 Presscon This year's Cinemalaya includes films with performances by (from left), Bessie Badilla ("Hiblang Abo”) Janine Gutierrez (“Dagsin") and Pokwang ("Mercury is Mine”). Photos by DENISE FABELLA  

Cinemalaya will also be honoring Francis Pasion, the acclaimed filmmaker who died earlier this year, with the Tribute to Francis Pasion retrospective, which will feature his movies “Bwaya,” “Jay,” and “Sampaguita, National Flower.”

To further engage its audience, Cinemalaya will be introducing the participation of selected young celebrities as Cinemalaya Navigators. During certain screenings, these actors and actresses will have conversations with young audiences about this year’s films and the independent filmmaking industry as a whole.

Cinemalaya 2016 Presscon Ketchup Eusebio (left) and Janus Del Prado star in this year's Cinemalaya entry "Ang Bagong Pamilya ni Ponching." Photo by DENISE FABELLA

Another new feature will be the Green Carpet Screenings, which will be held at the CCP front lawn. With the Center’s large digital billboard as the big screen, moviegoers will be able to enjoy this year’s showcase along with their picnic baskets, bikes, and pets. A rainy-day venue will be announced should it be necessary. Viewers will also be able to schedule private screenings with their friends and family at the Samsung Screening Lounge.

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For screening schedules, ticket prices, descriptions and trailers of the films, and more information, visit the festival’s official website.