Get up, local film enthusiasts. After a two-year break, the Cinemalaya Film Festival is finally back with its roster of full-length films—and with in-person screenings to boot. (I mean, who didn’t miss the impromptu IRL film criticism with your friends while the credits roll?)
While the excitement for the fest’s 18th edition can be a bit overwhelming, we’ll try to help you with a quick look at the lineup of competition films. With stories of dreams, loss, confronting the self, uncovering harsh truths, and everything in between, here are the titles you can catch in selected mall cinemas and CCP’s Main Theater, Arthouse Cinema, and Studio Theater from Aug. 6 to 16.
Dir. Anna Isabelle Matutina
After getting out of a toxic relationship with her boyfriend, a 40-year-old woman named Alice mulls over whether to keep her baby or terminate her pregnancy, especially given the drastic changes in her body. In the noiseless yet suffocating teaser, we hear Alice asking, “Dito ba gagawin?” (Are we doing it here?) to what looks like a doctor in charge of her so-called assessment.
Dir. Rainerio C. Yamson II
Apart from being a habal-habal driver, Leo is also a village’s go-to ambulance and delivery man in Compostela Valley. Upon meeting his estranged friend one day, he gets pulled into the mission of fetching the corpse of their childhood friend, a rebel trailed by the military. What could possibly unfold in this magical realism story?
“Bakit ‘Di Mo Sabihin?”
Dir. Real S. Florido
A Deaf couple’s relationship is on the rocks. A huge fight pushes Miguel to leave his wife Nat alone in Manila while he stays in Baler with their kids. This time away lets him confront the reasons why he chose his wife, and he decides to open up to her on Christmas Eve. We’re intrigued by the sneak peek’s whimsical, emotionally heavy, and slightly eerie treatment.
Dir. Ronald Espinosa Batallones
Wrapped in enchanting elements, this drama-fantasy film follows Toto and Nonoy, two siblings who are out to buy batsoy—the younger brother’s current craving. In this adventure to find satisfaction, Mt. Manaphag is their witness.
Dir. Ma-an L. Asuncion-Dagñalan
If we’re talking about the fusion of coming of age, comedy, crime, and drama, we have Rebel Rebel’s tale. The indie rock band, composed of sheltered and progressive teenagers, get busted for drug possession—and are sent to the Blue Room. Here, they face a difficult decision: Do they maximize their privilege to be released, or hold onto their principles?
“Bula sa Langit”
Dir. Sheely Gener
Despite his excitement to come home, a young soldier named Wesley finds himself heavily disturbed by one of his traumatic kills while spending the town fiesta with his family and girlfriend. In the sneak peek, Wesley’s girlfriend asks him, “Meron ka pa bang hindi kinukwento sa ‘kin?” (Is there something you haven’t told me?) To deal with this trauma, he suddenly goes to the carnival.
Dir. Christian Paolo Lat
This sports drama centers on Anton, who heads to Manila to pursue his boxing dream. In this way, he hopes to continue his brother’s legacy whose passion helped him financially, despite meeting a tragic ending. But in this journey, Anton uncovers the ugly truth behind the sport.
Dir. Roman S. Perez Jr.
In the middle of a custody battle for her daughter Amaya, Rebekah finds another “Amaya” under the bed. She develops an intimate mother-daughter relationship with this other Amaya, who claims to be the real one. To be with her daughter, Rebekah needs to kill the impostor. (Yup, that teaser’s already haunting me in my sleep.)
Dir. TM Malones
As Sara gets into a state of depression after losing her family to a motorcycle accident, she eventually develops an urge to avenge them. With the belief that her husband and daughter were killed by a man, she searches for him to find closure. However, she finds out something unexpected. If you’re looking for a tension-filled road film, add this to your list.
Dir. Cynthia Cruz-Paz and Milo Alto Paz
While battling with post-retirement melancholy, Azon Marcelo gets drawn into Bingo, as recommended by her neighbor Chayong. She eventually becomes a regular player, getting a sense of purpose and adrenaline from the game. What will this mean for her retirement?
“The Baseball Player”
Dir. Carlo Obispo
After his father’s death in a war, 17-year-old Moro soldier Amir wants to pursue a new life with the help of baseball. But his progress as a player gets cut short when another all-out war happens just three years after. Will he fight in this battle or fight for his dreams?
Stills from “Blue Room,” “Bakit ‘Di Mo Sabihin?” and “Kaluskos”