The Philippines' foremost annual independent film festival opens its 14th edition this Friday, August 3, with ten full-length features competing for the grand awards, and ten shorts split into two divisions. This means that apart from BuyBust, which opens on Wednesday, August 1, we're getting a great variety of new Filipino films this month. There's a lot to be excited about, so let's start by digging into the trailers of Cinemalaya's films.
The Lookout by Afi Africa
Official Synopsis: The Lookout tells the story of Lester Quiambao, a hired killer, whose abusive relationships in childhood propels him into a life of crime and depravity. It compels him to betray Travis Concepcion, the man he loves, in order to exact his revenge. (Starring Yayo Aguila, Rez Cortez, Efren Reyes, Alvin Fortuna, Jeffrey Santos, Benedict Campos)
Kuya Wes by James Robin Mayo
Official Synopsis: Wes is a timid and earnest remittance clerk who feels nonexistent and mostly ignored by his younger brother, Raf, and his family. His days are only brightened when Erika, a customer, comes in every month. His life changes one day as Erika’s overseas husband leaves her. Distraught and in need, Wes decides to help her out. His “relationship” with Erika and his friction with Raf starts to transform him. (Starring Ogie Alcasid, Ina Raymundo, Moi Bien, Alex Medina, and Karen Gaerlan)
ML by Benedicto Mique Jr.
Official Synopsis: Carlo, an unapologetically millennial college jock, thinks that Martial Law wasn’t all that bad. No one in his family had anything bad to say about it, all he’s ever read are online posts on human rights violations. Confronted by a frustrated History professor, Carlo sets out to prove he is right, and looks for someone who lived through the period to tell the tale. (Starring Eddie Garcia, Tony Labrusca, Liane Valentino, Henz Villaraiz)
Mamang by Denise O'Hara
Official Synopsis: At the twilight of her life, Mamang grapples against senility and dementia to be with her son, Ferdie, who she suspects is planning to be a teacher and leave for another province. But the more she struggles, the more her condition worsens, until she is haunted by the ghosts of her past. As she battles to drive them away, she starts reliving her past, and her visions slowly turn into her reality. In the end, she is forced to decide between staying sane or letting her mind go in what has now become a labyrinth of memories. (Starring Celeste Legaspi, Ketchup Eusebio, Peewee O'hara, Alex Medina, Gio Gahol)
Kung Paano Hinihintay ang Dapithapon by Carlo Enciso Catu
Official Synopsis: Teresa and Celso are an unmarried couple trying to survive their mundane life as senior citizens. On the night of their anniversary, they receive a phone call from Teresa’s estranged husband, Benedicto, who is ill and asking for care. The couple go out of their way to attend to his needs in the remaining days of his life, even seeking the forgiveness of his son, Chito. The film speaks of love, companionship, and forgiveness. It is about moving forward by revisiting the past. It poses the question: In the twilight of our days, how do we really wait for the sun to set? (Starring Dante Rivero, Menggie Cobarrubias, and Perla Bautista)
Pan de Salawal by Che Espiritu
In a small town near the Manila Railroad, Sal—a lonely baker suffering from a chronic kidney condition—wants to end his life with an oncoming train. Sharing his depressing life are his neighbors—a barber with hand tremors, a Cariñosa dancer paralyzed by stroke, and a meat vendor with a tumor in his breast. Their prayers are answered when Aguy, a 7-year old Visayan girl, comes with a series of miraculous cures. Whenever she sees someone in pain, Aguy slaps their face or punches them in the chest; the person is magically healed thereafter. Sal grows to love Aguy as his own daughter, and offers his home to the wandering child who possesses the unusual ability to heal. But as Aguy is able to heal the sick, she cannot heal Sal. As Sal's condition weakens, Aguy realizes she is called to do a heartbreaking sacrifice, and hurt him the worst way she can. (Starring Bodjie Pascua, Miel Espinosa, Madeleine Nicolas, Anna Luna)
School Service by Luisito Lagdameo Ignacio
Official Synopsis: Maya was walking home in her province when the school service bus stops beside her and offers her a rude. She innocently accepts the offer so she could reach home faster. To Maya’s horror, the service does not stop at her place. She soon realizes she has been taken, along with the other kids who are inside the crammed school service. Soon, Maya finds herself hours and hours away from home, in an unfamiliar land—Manila. By dusk, the children are dropped off along the national highway to work by begging for alms. Forced to struggle with the harsh conditions of street life, Maya continues to hope and chase her freedom that may never return. (Starring Joel Lamangan, Ai-Ai delas Alas, Teri Malvar, Celine Juan)
Liway by Kip Oebanda
Official Synopsis: Dakip is a little boy who lives with his parents Day and Ric inside Camp Delgado, a makeshift prison inside a military camp for both rebels and criminals. Day does her best to shelter the child from the harsh realities of their life. She tells stories about an enchantress named Liway, with songs and imagination to help keep her boy from trauma. However, at the tail end of the Martial Law, her own dark past catches up with her, and the lives of the detainees become increasingly difficult. She is confronted with the cruel possibility that the best interests of her child may mean never seeing her again. This is based on a true story. (Starring Glaiza de Castro, Dominic roco, Kenken Nuyad, Sue Prado, Soliman Cruz)
Musmos na Sumibol sa Gubat ng Digma by Iar Lionel Arondaing
Official Synopsis: A coming-of-age tale about a twelve-year-old Muslim girl named Eshal in Marawi is set amid an age-old culture of inter-familial dispute. Rido, as it is called, is characterized by a series of violent and fatal retaliation to avenge a reproach or injustice, real or imaginary, among disputing clans, crossing generations. (Starring Junyka Sigrid Santarin, JM Salvado, Star Orjaliza)
Distance by Percival Intalan
Liza is still drowning in grief from losing the love of her life when she receives a visit from the most unlikely person—her husband, who she left five years ago. With no questions asked and no conditions made, Anton invites her back to his and their two children’s lives. (Starring Iza Calzado, Nonie Buencamino, Therese Malvar)
Apart from the 10 competing feature-length films, Cinemalaya will also be screening two divisions of short films:
Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month by Carlo Francisco Manatad
Kiko by Jojo Driz
Logro by Kani Villaflor
Nangungupahan (Who Rents There Now?) by Glenn Barit
Sa Saiyang Isla (In His Island) by Christian Candelaria
Si Astri maka Si Tambulah (Astri and Tambulah) by Xeph Suarez
Siyudad sa Bulawan (City of Gold) by Jarell Serencio
Yakap by Mika Fabella and Rafael Froilan Jr.
You, Me and Mr. Wiggles by Jav Velasco
These synopses were taken from the Cinemalaya website. Minor edits have been made by the editors of Esquire Philippines.