Counter clockwise: Screenshots from “Two Funerals,” short film “P,” and Cinemalaya 2010 Best Film “Donor.” Photos courtesy of Gil Portes, Milo Tolentino and Mark MeilyVETERAN directors went indie in the 2010 Cinemalaya. For its sixth year, the annual festival of independent films introduced another competitive category, the Directors’ Showcase, featuring established directors. As in the New Breed, finalists in the Directors’ Showcase were given P500,000 to start of their movie projects, which should not exceed the three-million-peso ceiling for all Cinemalaya full-length productions. The result was indie cinema with sleek looks and glossy marketing.

Vision from the veterans

“Two Funerals” follows the tale of a mother journeying to recover the remains of her daughter who dies in a terrible accident.

The film’s producer-director Gil Portes, who won as the first Best Director under the Director’s Showcase category, got the concept from a tabloid story about a funeral parlor, making way for the delicate matriarchal misery of Pilar (Tessie Tomas) looking for the remains of her daughter, Charm (Princess Manzon), who loses her life in a bus accident.

Portes shows how Filipinos adapt with excruciating and pivotal life events through an upbeat manner. The movie garnered five awards, namely Audience Choice, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Director and the Special Jury Award.

Meanwhile, the dark side of organ trafficking and abortion is explored in Mark Meily’s “Donor”, which has been recognized as the festival’s Best Film. The story revolves around Lizette (Meryll Soriano), a vendor of pirated DVD’s, who yearns to climb out of poverty. She reluctantly agrees to donate one of her kidneys to a foreigner in exchange for 100,000 pesos.

The role of Lizette is played by Meryll Soriano, while her husband, Danny, is portrayed by Baron Geisler, who at the same time has been awarded as the best actress and best actor in the Director’s showcase, respectively. Carla Pambid has won the best supporting actress for her portrayal in the movie as Lizette’s best friend.

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Verve of the new breed

“Halaw: Ways of the Sea” is a portrayal of various Filipinos risking their lives at the expense of crossing the Malaysian border, with each of them having their individual agenda for going.

It features the much-celebrated acting of John Arcilla, who portrays the role of a poseur war photographer who is actually involved in human trafficking in Malaysia. He has also been declared as Best Actor for the New Breed category.

Halaw’s strength comes from its ability to introduce multiple social issues that are seamlessly binded together in a single full length film – white slavery, illegal immigration, poverty and ire of family separation. The dialect mostly spoken in the movie is in Tausug, and the subtitles provide only the gist of the conversation.

Accolades were also given to the movie as it received the Best Film award in the New Breed category. Likewise, its director, Sheron Dayoc has won the Best Director award.

“The Leaving”, the winner of Best Production Design and Best Cinematography in New Breed’s category, was an unpredictable suspense and horror movie encapsulated with the romantic tribulations of four intertwined Filipino-Chinese individuals, Martin (Alwyn Uytingco), Joan (LJ Moreno), William (Arnold Reyes) and Grace (LJ Reyes).

The Leaving is a story pin-pointing love as the ultimate goal of human existence. However, the movie implied that too much love can have adverse effects.

In Infanta, Quezon, the busiest part of summer comes when May begins because of the preparations for the Mayohan festival where locals pay tribute to good harvest and honor the Blessed Mother Mary, with its culminating activity being the May-end Pasayaw.

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The story of this movie revolves around barrio lass named Lilibeth (Lovi Poe), who was raised alone by her grandmother, and 15-year old Niño (Elijah Castillo) who visits Infanta for the summer.

Having been left behind by her flighty mother and unrecognized by her politician father, Lilibeth desperately yearns for a parental figure and in the process finds out that pleasant exteriors may mask dark intentions. Niño, on the other hand, has been living in Manila with his aunt ever since he survived the car crash that claimed his parents’ lives. The two find themselves entangled in an unconventional love story while dealing with their own personal lives and of course, Mayohan.

Directors Paul Sta. Ana and Dan Villegas wittingly captures the teenagers’ excitement for the Pasayaw, with scenes displaying the youth often forgetting the whole point of the Mayohan festival, which is to venerate the blessed virgin. Accompanied with a delightful and apt soundtrack, Mayohan was awarded Best in Musical Score and Best in Screenplay. Lovi Poe won Best Actress for the New Breed category.

Winning the Special Jury Prize winner under the same category, Sampaguita, by Francis Xavier Pasion, is a documentary and movie, rolled into one. It chronicles the lives of Ronalyn Ramos, Renalyn Bunag, Rinalyn Bernardo, Jordan Isip and Jeffrey and Marlon Abalos depicting the different stages involved in selling Sampaguita; from the plucking of the flowers to its peddling at the streets.

Unlike most films in the festival which were only based from unnoticed events in real life acted out by hired actors, Sampaguita had no mainstream performers. Instead, the sampaguita vendors themselves acted out their roles.

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Pam Miras’ Wag Kang Titingin was named Best Short Film. Although predictable and a tad generic, the plot showed social relevance, displaying that injustice in war-torn areas generally leads to the bloodshed of the innocent, regardless of gender and age. The film takes an eerie turn as a daughter keeps her promise to her father by looking out for her younger sister even after life.

Meanwhile, P chronicles a spritely boy’s summer stay with his aunt. Rommel “Milo” Tolentino won Best Director for the presentation of Paeng’s (Jan Harley Hicana) antics and how his Tita Pekta (Laarnie Lopez) deals with the mischievous youngster all throughout the vacation. Marked as an enemy of their community’s bullies, Paeng finds comfort in his only friend, Popoy who is considered an outcast because of the AH1N1 virus. Audiences all over will truly find this film endearing for it tackles the bittersweet mechanics of familial ties and displays the joys and pangs of childhood. The movie also bagged the Audience Choice Award for the Short Film category. M. J. A. D. Cruz, Ana May Dela Cruz, John Ernest F. Jose and Alyosha J. Robillos

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