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Started in 2005, Cinema One Originals Film Festival aims to showcase local independent films that are diverse in voice and supposedly giving more independent control to up and coming filmmakers. From producing 6 films, the festival rose to the competition with two categories and 15 films in 2012. This update in roster seemingly made it difficult for both audiences and filmmakers to meet the demands as some films shown were either under-processed, and the screening schedules seemed too intense to complete.  Two years ago, the ABS-CBN-led grant giving filmfest decided to maintain the 2 million peso production support and further trim the list down to just one category and 10 films. Also adding more mall theater venues.

This year, on its 11th edition, COO challenges the filmmakers to be more unique and exemplary – allowing at least 3 films that we at the DLIST.PH roaring with excitement to see. There’s the rotoscope animated film Manang Biring. There’s the controversy-courting regional LGBT film Miss Bulalacao. And then there’s Mga Rebeldeng May Kaso, an independent feature recreating the pioneering years of, yes, the first wave of independent films in the Philippines. Other films in competition are also worthy of commendation. There’s a gothic horror (“Bukod Kang Pinagpala” by Sheron Dayoc), a resident poverty feature that echoes the variety of Italian new wave (“Hamog” by Ralston Jover), an ode to action films (“Dayang Asu” by Bor Ocampo), a rom-com (“Baka, Siguro, Yata” by Joel Ferrer), an industry referential (“The Comeback” by Ivan Andrew Payawal), and a film about a beloved literary genius set in the most tumultuous political scenario(“Dahlin’ Nick” by Sari Dalena).

Manang Biring is the second feature of self-producing independent animator Carl Joseph Papa whose body of work consists mostly of his unwavering adoration and eternal feeling of loss for his departed mother (iNay, Ang Prinsesa, Ang Prinsipe, at si Marlborita; Ang di paglimot Sa Mga Alaala). In Manang Biring, it seems that his mother’s remembering takes the central POV as it focuses on the illness that she would die of. Death, loss, and the memories of pain caused by its permanent separation are the themes that embrace Papa’s filmography – what makes him unique as a storyteller/filmmaker is his presentations. Manang Biring is primarily a comedy. This is also the first leading performance of veteran talent player, Erlinda Villalobos.


Ara Chawdhury’s Miss Bulalacao is about Dodong who joins a local gay pageant, accordingly to “gain acceptance in his community.” He is described as a “drag queen” – meaning he supposedly dresses as the opposite of his heteronormative fashion, professionally. The use of pronoun “He” is a determinant that Dodong is not a self-identified transgender woman. In a twist of faith, mystery, and desperation, he becomes pregnant – and the unaccepting town loses it. Dodong, according to the news report is “BAKLA, INA NG DIYOS.” How irreverent! How original!

Raymond Red is Raymond Red. Like First Wave Indie is Raymond Red. At least, someone who had not been necessarily funded to be independent successfully churned out films of magnitude in the late1980s and early 90s (culminating with a Palme D’Or winning film Anino in 2000).  In Mga Rebeldeng May Kaso, Red goes back to old-fashion with riveting images and audacity that becomes the foundation of today’s digital format.

Cinema One Originals is scheduled on November 9-17, with additional screenings of past competing films, selections of world cinema, short features, and restored classics.   Here are the complete schedules, courtesy of our friends in Film Police
Archie Del Mundo
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