STOP10: 10 stories to remember at Cinemalaya 2018

I seem to have visited the Philippines in the middle of many storms. On the final days of the Cinemalaya, Philippines' biggest independent film festival, the rains came beating down causing knee level floods on the outskirts of Manila, disruptions to travel and even a church wedding in which the bride had to walk on water a la Crazy Rich Asians the movie. On the political front, Imee Marcos just inked an alliance with Sara Duterte's Hugpong ng Pagbabago party and even more recently, have asked the critics of Marcos' Martial Law in the 80s to move on. On the cultural front, two films which were screening under Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, a film festival held right after Cinemalaya, received a zero grade from the Cinema Evaluation Board, meaning they will not be entitled to any incentives. The films were Balangiga and Gusto Kita with all my Hypothalamus.

What all these mean is that I could not have asked for a better time to get a real taste of socio-political-cultural movements in the Philippines. And geological too. Cinemalaya 2018 was an unforgettable entry point into the filmmaking scene on the ground and general social sentiments beyond cinema. Filipino cinema is ballsy. Over the six days I was at the festival, I witnessed on screen the bloody shooting of a politician, strident voices against Martial Law and a dangling penis in full view that could not care more if people gasped in the audience. Not many did. 

The 10 competition features and 10 competition shorts at Cinemalaya gave me a near perfect glimpse of what's gripping young Filipinos at this juncture. Autobiographical Martial Law-themed feature film Liway gives a intimate account of living in detention during the Martial Law and I am kicking myself for missing the epic gala, which saw a 7-minute standing ovation and former detainees attending the event. Feature film Distance tells the story of a lesbian who is invited back to stay with her husband and kids after the female partner she eloped with passed away. Short film Babylon is a absurdist tale of two girls who perform time travel to execute an assassination on a small town dictator. But in truth, there are too many stories to tell and these films are just scratching the surface, as speaking to some of the filmmakers behind the Cinemalaya films would reveal. 

Here is a special STOP10 edition on Cinemalaya featuring 10 filmmakers whose feature or short films were screening at the festival. Each of them represent a unique voice in independent filmmaking and are a window to the larger society they belong to.

1. James Robin Mayo, with his feature Kuya Wes

2. Benedict Mique with his feature ML

3. Denise O'Hara with her feature Mamang

4. Carlo Catu with his feature Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon

5. Keith Deligero with short Babylon

6. Afi Africa with his feature The Lookout

7. Perci Intalan with his Distance

8. Xeph Suarez with his short Si Astri maka si Tambulah

9. Kip Oebanda with his feature Liway

10. Che Espiritu with her feature Pan De Salawal

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