Attention indie film fans: Cinemalaya 2020 will push through online

The pandemic may have put off most of our yearly plans, but the Cinemalaya stands firm and primed to meet its annual showing this August.

That’s because the film festival is going completely digital this year. From August 7 to 16, the 16th edition of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, with the theme “Stream Consciousness,” will show 10 short features through the festival’s own account on the online streaming platform, Vimeo. 

Aside from responding to quarantine restraints, the shift to a virtual stage also aims to respond to changing viewing behaviors. As more people prefer to watch films through online on-demand platforms, the Cinemalaya aims to activate this audience and translate it to “continued if not increased viewership” of local independent films, according to Chris Millado, festival director of Cinemalaya.

Chosen from a pool of 244 submissions, these handpicked short films will comprise the film festival’s main competition, a transition from previous runs that featured full-length films. After the global pandemic rendered film productions unsafe, the Cinemalaya foundation decided to put off featuring full-length entries this year to Cinemalaya 2021 instead.

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Image from Facebook: Cinemalaya

Aside from the main competition, the Cinemalaya will also have an exhibition of 20 more short films, as well as a scriptwriting workshop led by none other than the celebrated screenwriter Ricky Lee. A virtual reunion for all the alumni of his writing workshop, as well as a virtual tribute to late great icons of the film industry — actress Anita Linda and filmmaker Peque Gallaga — will also take place during the festival’s online run.

Of course, the huge challenge here is to avoid repeating history. In the same statement, Mr. Millado also noted that in 2014, the Cinemalaya already tried to stream competition films online for wider accessibility. However, film entries from the previous years’ competitions 2012 and 2013 were then uploaded without their filmmakers’ consent. To attempt another online showing means to thwart any threat of digital film piracy.

Nonetheless, independent film fans stay stoked as they will get the chance to stream these 10 short films for free: Ang Gasgas na Plaka ni Lolo Bert by Janina Gacosta and Cheska Marfori; Ang Pagpakalma sa Unos by Joanna Vasquez Arong; Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss by Sonny Calvento; Fatigued by James Mayo; Living Things by Martika Ramirez Escobar; Pabasa Kan Pasyon by Hubert Tibi; Quing Lalam Ning Aldo by Reeden Fajardo; The Slums by Jan Andrei Cobey; Tokwifi by Carla Pulido Ocampo; Utwas by Richard Salvadico and Arlie Sumagaysay. 

Which of these titles are you most excited to stream online?


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