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Cinemalaya: Discover, honor,
encourage new filmmakers

By Leah Salterio
Inquirer News Service

MARYO J. de los Reyes' winning the best director awards for his work on "Magnifico" should inspire independent producers to come up with quality movies that can inspire viewers, earn loads of cash at the box office, give big production companies a run for their money and their awards, and, more importantly, pull the local film industry out of its slump.

Produced by Violett Films, "Magnifico" also won a best actor grand slam for its young lead, Jiro Manio.

While the top production outfits -- Star Cinema, Regal Films, Viva Films -- continue to churn out their annual, if reduced, quota of movies, a call is being made for new filmmakers to create fresh works in the First Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.

Organized by the Cultural Center of the Philippines with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and the University of the Philippines Film Institute, Cinemalaya is slated for February 19 to 25, 2005. It is open to those who have not yet directed a full-length commercial film.

Critical condition

The festival is supported by producers and directors as well as by top businessmen, academicians and even TV executives. Among those present during the Cinemalaya launch last week at Dream Bar in Makati City were Unitel Pictures' Tony Gloria ("Crying Ladies" producer and distributor of Ramona Diaz's controversial documentary, "Imelda"), filmmakers Lav Diaz and Banaue Miclat, businessman Tonyboy Cojuangco and Bobby Barreiro of ABC 5, National Artist for Cinema Eddie Romero, Caloy de Leon of the FDCP, Nick Tiongson of the UP College of Mass Communication, and Cultural Center of the Philippines president Nestor Jardin.

Jardin noted that for almost a decade now, the Filipino film industry has been in critical condition, proof of which is the decreasing number of films produced every year. "Eight or nine years ago, the industry was able to produce 230 films," said Jardin. "This year, the industry would be lucky if production ever reached 60, compared to the 80 films produced last year.

"The film industry needs all the help it can get to encourage young filmmakers to produce films," he added.

"Cinemalaya aims to discover, encourage and honor a new breed of movie mavericks. The festival seeks to elevate independent films to the mainstream."

The organizers hope that through the festival, young filmmakers will be able to express their own concepts freely and not be limited by the industry's present condition, where artistic integrity is sacrificed in the pursuit of commercial success.

The weeklong Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival will feature competitions and film exhibitions as well as a film expo and market, seminars, conferences and a film congress on the promotion, marketing and distribution of independent movies.

Dec. 15

The Cinemalaya films will have the Filipino identity and culture as main narrative theme. They will be divided into two categories: the short feature (with 15- to 20-minute running time) and the full-length feature (90- to 120-minute running time). Entries must be submitted in digital or video format.

Makers of short features are encouraged to submit a synopsis of their work in Filipino or English, a brief resumé with two recent 2 x 2 photos of the filmmaker(s) together with a completed application form on or before Sept. 1 to CCP Media Arts Office (4th Floor, CCP Main Building, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City) or the FDCP office (Unit 2 JM Raymundo Bldg., 14 Balete Drive, New Manila, Quezon City).

The 10 best short feature entries will be announced on December 15.

In the full-length category, filmmakers must submit a one- to three-page synopsis of their work in English or Filipino together with a brief resumé and two recent 2 x 2 photos of the filmmaker(s), samples of previous film works in CD/DVD/VHS format and an application form from July 30 to August 15 to the above addresses.

By August 31, a selection committee will have determined 20 semifinalists who will then be required to submit a full screenplay or a detailed treatment of their work, with a production schedule and a production budget, as well as counterpart financing plan on or before September 20.

Announcement of the 10 finalists will be on October 30.

Feb. 25, 2005 awarding

Each finalist will receive a seed investment of 500,000 pesos from the Philippine Multi-Media Systems Inc. and Dream Satellite TV. The amount will be released as follows: 50 percent upon selection and 50 percent upon submission of the final work.

Deadline for submission of the completed full-length film is January 15, 2005.

The final work for both short and full-length features must be submitted in DVD format, properly labeled with the title, production company address and contact numbers, director's name and running time.

Awards for both categories will be given on February 25, 2005 at the CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater). The best short feature will receive a 100,000-peso grant plus trophy. The best full feature will receive an additional 200,000-peso grant plus the Cinemalaya trophy.

Application forms are available at www.culturalcenter.gov.ph, or e-mail freefest@yahoogroups.com or film@culturalcenter.gov.ph. For inquiries, call the CCP, +63 2 832 1125 local 1704 or 1705; FDCP, +63 2 722 4482 or +63 2 723 3648; or the UP Film Institute, +63 2 932 9361 or +63 2 920 6863.

The CCP Media Arts office is open Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. FDCP and UP Film Institute are open Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Organizers of the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival hope to hold the event annually, preferably in November, and to eventually go beyond the Philippines.

Leah Salterio is a contributor to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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