Cinemalaya is that time of the year when an avalanche of indie films tumble out of the CCP.
But if you’re still weighing out which ones to catch on your free time, here’s a rundown of the different synopses and trailers for each of the fifteen films in competition.
Make sure to check out the schedule of screenings as well.
Ang Katiwala (The Caretaker)
by Aloy Adlawan
RUBEN loses his job as a carpenter in a small town in Zambales where he lives with his wife EDNA and their 10-year old son, BUDOY. Desperate to make ends meet, he accepts a job as a caretaker of an abandoned property in Quezon City. Ruben soon finds out that the previous owner of the house is an important figure in the country’s history. When he is interviewed by a TV reporter about this historical figure, Ruben feels embarrassed that he knows nothing about him. Ruben soon starts reading up to get to know more about the life of this person, his accomplishments and what he has done for the people. Ruben’s fascination about the person’s life and his inevitable hero-worship irks the only friend he has in the sprawling compound, the night shift security guard, GIMO, who jokes that Ruben is slowly being possessed by the soul of his new hero.
Ang Nawawala (What Isn’t There)
by Marietta “Marie” Jamora
Gibson Bonifacio stopped speaking when he was a child. Now twenty years old, he returns home to Manila from his studies abroad, his first visit in three years. He finds his family trying to keep it together, his mother still hurting from a tragic loss in the past. Against the backdrop of the vibrant local music scene, his childhood best friend tries to reconnect with him, while he unexpectedly finds a chance at a first, real romantic relationship. Amidst the holidays, Gibson reconsiders and redefines his relationships with his family, his friends, and with himself.
by Paul Sta. Ana and Obet Villela
The film set in a decadent world where even death becomes a provider. In a country where a cadaver may serve as license for holding a sakla operation (illegal gambling) in wakes, people may exploit the dead in order to generate income from the profits of gambling, and possibly pay for its burial. In Oros, a funeral parlor owner sells an unidentified body to Makoy, a kasero in a saklaan, who, along with his reluctant brother, Abet, set the stage for a three-week long fake wake holding the illegal saklaan. The sakla personnel deals with everyone involved, including Linda, an impoverished homeowner, as they agree upon a fictional story which will “legitimize” the wake.
by Vincent Sandoval / Darlene Malimas
It is 1971, and the sisters of the Adoration monastery lead quiet, insulated lives in a remote town in Rizal. Mother Superior Ruth leads the group in its prayers and daily rituals and prides herself in keeping the nuns removed from the vices and vicissitudes of the outside world. Young and fairly new, Lourdes, joins the monastery and gets introduced to the cloistered life. Shortly after, Remy, an extern nun (who is able to leave the cloister from time to time to do errands for the nuns), gets an unexpected visit from her mother telling her that her activist brother has been snatched away. Deeply troubled, Remy asks Ruth for an indefinite leave of absence to help her family search for her brother. But Ruth turns down her request, reminding her of the increasing importance of prayer during that time of crisis and in order to keep Remy out of harm’s way. Behind Ruth’s back, Remy starts attending meetings of families whose progressive relatives have gone missing, something that Lourdes discovers when she accompanies Remy on an errand in town. Meanwhile, the meeting of families with missing relatives has left a profound impression on Lourdes, who decides to become an extern herself alongside Remy, a decision that Mother Superior reluctantly consents to. One afternoon, the meeting in town that Remy and Lourdes attend ends well into the evening. On their way back, deep in the woods leading back to the monastery, they fall victim to violence.Devastated, Ruth, Remy and Lourdes individually grapple with the emotional aftermath. Ruth is well aware that the crisis could either destroy the nuns beyond repair or draw them closer together.
Mga Dayo (Resident Aliens)
by Julius Sotomayor Cena
Guam, U.S.A. Thursday, November 24, Thanksgiving Day. Alex, a local newspaper photographer, gets into a “green card marriage” with her good friend James, a Guam-born Filipino. Miriam, a former member of the Philippine press and now an established Guam journalist, longs to repair a damaged relationship with her American husband. Ella, a hotel housekeeper for almost 20 years, finds means of sending her 88-year old mother to the Philippines with the uncertainty of coming back. As the island of Guam celebrates this classic American holiday when people count their blessings and give thanks, the lives of the three Filipina immigrants intersect and find themselves at a tug-o-war of sacrifice and significance where they must find their home or must they find it somewhere else.
by Mes De Guzman
This is the story of Lusing, mother to five grown up sons who have distinct characters and professions of their own. Her children would occasionally come by for a visit. Each son comes for a specific purpose with different stories to share. Never has there been a chance that all five siblings came together nor met each other. The only moment they will gather as a family would be when one son is stabbed to death by a drunken loony while on a pilgrimage. Aling Lusing is a representation of the typical Filipina mother of perpetual help – caring and loving to a fault, gentle and generous, passive and pious. In spite of her frailty and her sons’ failures, she remains strong and steadfast, never ceasing to listen to their endless woes as well as wonders. She is always there for them to offer comfort in every crisis.
Diablo Trailer (External Link)
Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino
by Lemuel Lorca and Jerry Gracio
Intoy has had the hots for Doray since they were kids in Kalye Marino, Cavite City, formerly the American Naval Base in Sangley Point. Both marginalized as the long-lasting effect of Americanabandonment of the said base, Intoy has become Kalye Marino’s best “tahong” caretaker-with-no-angst-about-poverty, while Doray a cheap prostitute-with-no-guilt, tending to her siblings’ needs. Intoy strives to have his own cages of “tahong” so he can have Doray, not for just a night of quickie sex, but forever. But what will he do to when she offers to drop by his hovel-on-stilts to quench his passion, but before it happens Nature has chosen to play a joke on his tahong cage? Will it be goodbye to his tahong business or to his damsel-in-distress and ultimately to Kalye Marino? From Eros S. Atalia’s 2001 Palanca Grand Prize-winning Short Story, Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino is a love tale minus the obligatory romantic sentiments.
by Loy Arcenas
Circus hijinks surround the barangay of Sta. Maria in the midst of an international murder sensation. Swanie, Sta. Maria’s barangay chair and a distant relative of the killer, tries to gain political points by staging a wake for the criminal-turned-celebrity. Meanwhile in faraway Manila, Joanna, Swanie’s runaway son, navigates his way through labyrinthine bureaucracy, to give a neighbor a proper burial. With these two unrelated deaths, estranged mother and son each bury the dead long shelved in their hearts. Amidst these unspoken family burials, the neighborhoods’ penchant for funeral fiestas, gossip and secrets, bizarre social events and the sheer mix of scandal and inebriation complete the picture of dying the Pinoy way.
by Emmanuel Q.Palo
When Paulino Mungcal and his co-worker in a lahar-filled quarry unexpectedly dig up the remains of his 2-year daughter Marikit, they discover that she showed no signs of decay. Could this be a miracle, and could she—despite death – cure the sick? Inspired by whatever healing power the deceased child may have, Pol asks the church to declare her a saint. But how, when her resurgence stirs up emotions buried by time, and shores up questions about pure love, guilt, sin and salvation?
by Gino Santos
Set in an affluent, upper middle class village in the suburbs, “The Animals” chronicles a day in the life of Jake, Trina, and Alex, who go through the musings that every kid in high school has to deal with. All Jake wants to do is have a good time, Alex just wants to fit in, and Trina simply wants more. A very vivid picture is painted of life in high school after the final bell rings, as well as a different side of the Philippines, and what is happening to its privileged children.
Jun Robles Lana
Rene (Eddie Garcia) is a gay man who came out of the closet at age 70. Ailing in his twilight years, he thinks it is now too late for love, even companionship, and that all there is to look forward to is death. Nowadays the only companion Rene has is Bwakaw, a stray dog that hangs around his house and follows him wherever he goes. Bwakaw is a drama-comedy about growing old, and
everyone’s fear of growing old alone.
by Raymond Red
A fictitious Filipino black-and-white silent expressionist film. In this experimental film-within-a-film, Pen Medina portrays a prisoner locked away in a dark chamber for over two decades. He only sees the reality of the world outside through a small hole in his cell, which projects an image of the city on his wall. He watches people passing by, projected like an inverted movie. As he yearns to rejoin society, he eventually chips away on the hole until it is big enough for him to escape through.
Kamera Obskura Trailer (External Link)
Adolfo B. Alix Jr.
This movie is truthful to the sentiments of Filipinos, particularly the soldiers stationed, this time, on the disputed Spratly Islands. This will give people the chance to see what life is really like for Filipino soldiers caught between this dispute.
Mga Mumunting Lihim (Those Little Secrets)
Jose Javier Reyes
In Mga Mumunting Lihim, Iza Calzado, Judy Ann Santos, Agot Isidro, and Janice de Belen bring life to the women whose bonds of friendship are tested when they discover secrets about each other. Mariel (Judy Ann) and Carla (Iza) have been close friends since high school. When they grow up, Carla becomes a successful advertising executive while Mariel is a married woman who is actually jealous of Carla.
They meet Olive (Janice de Belen) and Sandra (Agot Isidro) who eventually become part of their barkada. Mariel (Judy Ann) is afflicted with a terminal disease and when she died, her friends got to read her diary containing her darkest secrets.
by Lawrence Fajardo
The film shows how Jess is captured by the police for snatching a cellphone of a call center agent, Ma. Grace Rosuello (Bangs Garcia). It’s his first time to undergo investigation. And as he goes in the process from Barangay Hall Clinic, Police Station to the Fiscal’s Office, viewers will witness how human rights violation bluntly executes, and how culture of corruption deviously perpetuates in this chain of institutions.