A Closer Look at Cinemalaya’s 9 Full-length Films in Competition

Taken from last year's Cinemalaya. (TJPh Photo)

I STILL remember my first time seeing a Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) during my last year in college. Our social studies professor made our class watch and I’m forever grateful he did.

More than the film (I’m actually not sure what film it was that we watched anymore), it was really the CCP, where the fesitval has been founded in 2005 and staged annually since them, that captivated me and made a lasting impression.

Then, I graduated and started working for the Philippines’ oldest newspaper. Fortunately, my work as lifestyle and entertainment reporter had me covering the and wrting about Cinemalaya for five consecutive years.

So even after I left The Manila Times last year, I still made sure that I got to see its films in competition.

I just couldn’t remove Cinemalaya in my system anymore because it shaped my better understanding and appreciation of Pelikulang Pilipino—away from mainstream cinema (although I am now watching “maindies” as well).

“Cinemalaya has continued to discover, encourage and support the cinematic works of upcoming and veteran Filipino filmmakers who boldly articulate and freely interpret the Philippine experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity,” a press statement from the CCP reads.

This 2017, Cinemalaya marks its 13th edition from August 4 to 13 and I am excited. Themed “See the Big Picture,” it will have nine full-length films, and for the first time in its history, 12 shorts films (from the usual 10).

Before Cinemalaya opens, let’s first take a closer look at the full-length entries:

Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha (The Family that Doesn't Weep)

Sharon Cuneta stars in a Cinemalaya film for the first time ever in this film by Mes de Guzman. She portrays Cora who is searching for the “the family that doesn’t weep.” People believe the family has the superpower to bring back lost loved ones. Utilizing all her resources, time and wealth, Cora is desperate to complete her broken family at all costs.


In a sleepy island village in Southern Tagalog lives a young lass, Divina (Elora Españo), who mulls whether to have her father officially declared dead after missing at sea three months ago amidst the mysticism and realities happening around her. The film is directed by Joseph Israel Laban.

Bagahe (The Baggage)

Zig Dulay’s entry explores the life of an overseas Filipino worker named Mercy (Angeli Bayani), who is suspected of abandoning a newborn child in a trash bin of an airplane toilet. The film shows what happens to her while being investigated.

Ang Guro Kong Di Marunong Magbasa (My Teacher Who Doesn’t Know How To Read)

Directed by Perry Escaño, the film is set in a barrio in southwestern Mindanao. It tells about a young farmer (Alfred Vargas) who became the educator in their community even though he is illiterate. One day, he heads to the city and fails to return. His students then decide to join a rebel organization and learn to become skilled warriors.

Nabubulok (The Decaying)

In the film, Luna (Sue Prado) goes missing with her American husband Jason Harper (Billy Ray Gallion) being suspected of killing her. As Jason intends to leave the country, circumstances conspire to avert his plan. Directed by Sonny Calvento, it stars veteran actress Gina Alajar as Ingrid, Luna’s mother.

Kiko Boksingero

Thop Nazareno’s film tells the story of an 11-year-old boy (Noel Comia Jr.) who was was left alone with his nanny Diday after the death of his mother (Yayo Aguila). He then tries to reconnect with his estranged father George, a has-been boxer portrayed by Yul Servo. Filling the gap of the time lost, the father and son bonds through their shared love for boxing.

The entry directed by Nerissa Picadizo takes Matt (Jake Cuenca) in a journey to fulfill his ultimate goal of biking all the way from Manila to Mt. Pinatubo. This he does while defying his Parkinson’s Disease and the forces of nature, while encountering the woman (Anna Luna) he wants to be with along the way.


In the film, Hendrix, played by Abra, dreams of becoming a rapper amidst the violence and poverty happening around him. But he needs to find the right words to penetrate the hiphop world through the help of seasoned poet Doc portrayed by Dido de la Paz. It is directed by Treb Monteras 2nd.  

Sa Gabing Nanahimik ang mga Kuliglig

Father Romy (Jake Macapagal) and altar boy Nonoy (Sam Quintana) find themselves in a predicament when they hear Magda’s (Angel Aquino) confessesion. She has committed murder after she discovering her husband’s adultery. Torn between following the Seal of the Confessional and finding a way to deliver justice, the two carry the weight of Magda’s sins. It is directed by Lionel Arondiang.


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