The beauty with independent films being produced these days is that you get a certain level of expectation that the movie will be good once you enter the cinema.  The poster may be haphazardly done–not even appealing to the very least–the trailer a mashup of scenes that don’t make a logical telling of the story, the title scrawny and hard to understand, and the actors and actresses virtual unknowns to demanding audience, but one element of independent cinema holds all these together: the quality of the story.

I’m excited at how independent cinema has improved over the years, both in the quality of the story and the quality of the film itself.  I remember a few years back, when the indie scene was just beginning, that most films sport a homemade-video look which doesn’t make it very appealing to the eyes (watching in a home theater, therefore, was more preferable than actually watching it on the silverscreen).  There’s something with the picture quality of film grain that makes it look dream-like, perfectly distancing the real world from the world inside the film.

But now, digital movies are beginning to look more like their film counterparts–grainy, dreamy, misty at times, the perfect illusionary imagery that fits the cinema.  The sound may still be a bit of a problem, but at least it’s improving; not much background noises even if dubbing was not an option.  Most of the background music are getting better too–well, they are good in the first place.

What’s best about the Philippine indie scene is that profit is more of a consequence of making the film rather than its motivation.  Here, Content is King, and the lowered expectations of the viewers are almost always exceeded by the new films coming out.  After all, the indie scene has its own targetted audience because of the reputation it exudes–artsy, risky, and brazenly intellectual.  No wonder most of these films rake thousands in profit when exhibited in UP.

One of the best indie films from the annual Cinemalaya is 100.  It is a story about how a lady diagnosed with terminal cancer spends the last several days of her life.  Collectively, it has won five major awards during the Cinemalaya 2008 Awards night, including Best Screenplay, Best Director (for Chris Martinez), Best Supporting Actress (for the uber-funny Eugene Domingo) and Best Actress (for the stunning Mylene Dizon).

At first one would think that the story is typical, that we’ve heard it all before through Morrie’s words in Tuesdays with Morrie; but seeing it onscreen, experiencing the struggle and the joys of knowing the date you cease from existence is very moving.  Most noteworthy of which is the last scene, where Joyce (Mylene Dizon) peeks through the living room, silent with all of her loved ones together and happy, and she slowly drifts away.  Seeing that sequence evoked a deep feeling of happiness and contentment within me.  Hearing that silence made me think of Philip Salvador’s last scene in Ora Pronobis–defeaning yet very meaningful silence.

IN THE END, Director Chris Martinez says it best:  “I’m proud that the movie 100 has made it to UP in time for its 100th anniversary.”  We couldn’t be any more prouder, Direk Chris.  You gave birth to a  very wonderful film.  As a sign of gratitude, I gave the film its well-deserved standing ovation.

7 Responses to “Cinemalaya means Free Cinema”
  1. RONeiluke says:

    i love independent films i agree that what made them outstanding is a well-written story…i was able to watch one in UP…really cool experience..hehe!

  2. A says:

    Chris Martinez has always been love at first read (his play entitled Last Order sa Penguin screams at my heart), but this movie… This guy’s bad ass gifted, I tell you.

  3. joaqui says:

    I did watch this movie too in UP when it was shown there last week. I also gave it a standing ovation. The story was wonderful and very touching too. Eugene Domingo was really funny (I love her). Mylene was very effective as well as Tessie Tomas. 🙂

  4. psychogoddess says:

    The venue being too far has always been my reason for missing Cinemalaya. It will take me approx 3 hours from my home to CCP. 🙁

    Is it possible for Cinemalaya to release DVD compilations of the festival winners? I know a lot of people who would be willing to shell out money for that. It will also be a way for the festival to earn additional funds.

  5. JM says:

    @psychogoddess problem with releasing a DVD is the reality of piracy. Really. Everyone will just capitalize on anything these days. So sad, but true.

    San ka ba nakatira? They take it to UP naman every year ah?

  6. Callie Lowden says:

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  7. karen says:

    There’s noticeably a bundle to learn about this. I assume you made sure nice points in features also.

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