Among other surprises, a drive-in cinema!

With the flow of our global health crisis still gripping the country, Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival navigates through the social current and plugs in the life support for the industry as it journeys anew to the digital platform this coming Aug. 6 to Sept. 5, 2021, to be streamed solely on Leaning on the knowledge of the built-up from last year’s edition, the country’s most prominent independent film festival presents its second online edition with 13 short film competing for the prestigious Balanghai trophies.

14 Directors who are competing for the best short film (Manila Bulletin Lifestyle)

Competing for the best short-film are Arjanmar Rebeta with “An Sadit Na Planeta (The Little Planet),” Kevin Jay Ayson with “Ang Mga Nawawalang Pag-asa at Panlasa,” Shirl De Leon with “Ang Pagdadala ni Lola Mayumi,” Kevin Mayuga with “Ate O.G.,” Myra Aquino with “Beauty Queen,” Marc Misa with “Crossing,” Alphie Velasco with “Kawatan na Salog (A Toy in the River),” Kyle Nieva with “Kids on Fire,” James Fajardo with “Looking for Rafflesias and Other Fleeting Things,” Che Tagyamon and Glenn Barit with “Maski Papano (I Mask Go On),” Jonnie Lyn P. Dasalla with “Namnama En Lolang (Grandmother’s Hope),” Enrico Po with “Out of Body,” and David Olson with “The Dust In Your Place.”

Poster of ‘Ang Mga Nawalang Pag-asa at Panlasa’

An Sadit na Planeta” follows the adventure of a young man as he explores a little planet. “Ang Mga Nawalang Pag-As at Panlasa,” meanwhile, is a documentary on the quest of finding “pagkaing iloco” in the midst of a pandemic.

Poster of ‘Ang Pagdadalaga ni Lola Mayumi’

In “Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Lola Mayumi,” a virginal old woman hires a callboy to change her perspective about men. According to Director Shirl De Leon, “Mayumi believes that ‘all men are terrible’ and the callboy believes that ‘I need to prioritize money above everything.’ These are the two beliefs that I have always wanted to clash and see if their beliefs will be tested or not. This film is really a part of my heart and experiences and this film can hopefully start conversations about this topic.”

Poster of ‘Crossing’

The film “Ate O.G.” tells about a struggling, aging house helper who finds herself going through an unexpected and uplifting experience. In “Beauty Queen,” a young woman struggles to find herself after losing her father during World War II. On the other hand, a desperate robber is forced to choose whether he should become a hero to his victims or fall victim to a robbery himself in “Crossing.”

Poster of ‘Kawatan Sa Salog’

Kawatan sa Ilog” is about a mischievous child learns the value of time and life as he finds his way back home to his father. “Kids on Fire” is the story of a prepubescent boy who discovers the power of his sexuality during a religious camp.

Poster of ‘Looking For Rafflesias and Other Fleeting Things’

“Looking For Rafflesias And Other Fleeting Things” narrates how a tikbalang transforms into a teenage boy to disprove the rumor that horse demons are killing civilians in the mountain. A disposed facemask turns into a humanoid and starts an adventure looking for its previous owner in “Maski Papano,” while a grandmother and her baby grandson find solace in each other and face the harsh reality of the pandemic together in “Namnama En Lolang.”

Poster of ‘The Dust in Your Place’

“Out Of Body” takes the audience in a macabre commercial shoot with a young model. Meanwhile, career and friendship are on the line when a comic strip artist tells her writer the truths about his relationships in “The Dust In Your Place.”

While Cinemalaya has continued to be considered the vanguard of the Philippine independent filmmaking since its inception in 2005, its Selection committee has observed that submissions for the main competition have become predictable and have been following recurrent themes such as gender, poverty, and social inequalities.

To unearth new cinematic voices and develop a growing audience for independent cinema for its 2023 edition, Cinemalaya introduces new direction and further expands its cinematic boundaries through the Cinemalaya Film Lab, a three-month-long film-laboratory mentorship program happening on September to November 2021.


On its 17th year, the film festival revisits its direction and strategy to remain relevant today while continuing to fulfill its mission of discovering, encouraging, supporting, training, and recognizing gifted Filipino independent filmmakers.

The CCP will open its grounds with a hybrid drive-in cinema, dubbed Cinema Under the Stars, where film habitu├ęs and enthusiasts alike can watch a film at Liwasang Ullalim. The first audience-centered on-site event (since the lockdown), the outdoor cinema welcomes everyone, whether they are riding their cars, bikes, or even just walking and passing by.

Meanwhile, Cinemalaya mainstays remain. Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video, the longest-running independent film and video competition in Asia, will also continue its run this year.

Visions of Asia, one of the major components of the film festival, will screen award-winning indie films from Asia. On a similar note, IndieNation, which showcases notable and critically acclaimed feature length and short films, will have a continued run at Cinemalaya.

Don’t miss out on other components such as the Cinemalaya Retrospectives (featuring past Cinemalya films) and Cinemalaya Campus, among others. The film festival will also pay tribute to individuals who have made great contributions to the Philippine film industry, including director Mel Chionglo, former head of the Cinemalaya Competition and Monitoring Committee with the screenings of three of his best films.

Catch the Premieres, highlighting full-length and short films, which have been produced in the past year and ones that will be screened for the first time in the Philippines. The book launching of the “Riding the Waves: 15 Years of Cinemalaya,” will also be featured, a complete guide to the colorful history of the country’s biggest independent film festival.

The 2021 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is co-presented by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Cinemalaya Foundation Inc., in partnership with streaming partners and Kumu. Supported by corporate partners, Huachen Bayfront Hotel, McDonald’s Philippines, Optima Digital, and B+C Design Inc.

For more updates, please visit the CCP and Cinemalaya websites. Also, follow the official CCP and Cinemalaya social media accounts.

Source: Manila Bulletin (