WITH all screenings sold out, the seventh Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Greenbelt 3 last July 15 to 24 was easily the best attended so far in history. Theme was “See the Unseen,” obviously a challenge to filmmakers to explore new realms. But did the commerce rule out the theme?

The question seems pertinent inasmuch as in the main category, New Breed, the best picture winner was also the audience choice winner, Marlon Rivera’s “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank,” a film within a film that chronicles three passionate filmmakers’ attempt to make a Filipino movie that would win the Oscar best foreign language movie award.

A comedy, the movie was calculated to please the audience. But in its parody of indie cinema and its artistic strategies—its realism, its chronicle of poverty and themes of abjection, its pessimism—it appears to ridicule the gains of the Cinemalaya and independent filmmaking in general.

The fact that “Septic Tank” won the major awards—aside from best picture, it won best director (Rivera), best screenplay (Cris Martinez), and best actress (Eugene Domingo)—seems a stab in the back of indie filmmaking. It seems to cast indie film itself to the septic tank of artistic follies and foibles.

The runner-up winner, Loy Arcenas’ “Niño,” which won the special jury prize, shows an old-guard family in decline, their pathetic slide from political and economic prominence into penury embodied in the characters’ nostalgia and their penchant for singing classical arias. The movie won best supporting performer award (Shamaine Buencamino and Art Acuña) and best production design.

Breaking the real score about Santa Claus

Lawrence Fajardo’s “Amok,” which shows how a man’s killing spree seals the fate of various characters who just happen to be passing by, won well-deserved technical awards for editing and sound recording.

Meanwhile, the edgy camera work of “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa” complements the plot, which tackles intimate attachments fostered by dance and poetry. The film won awards for cinematography and music score.


In the Director’s Showcase, a category for directors who have made at least five movies, Jeffrey Jeturian’s dark comedy, “Bisperas,” won best picture. It tells the story of a devout Catholic family whose contradictions are exposed and whose tensions are stretched to the breaking point when after a Christmas Eve ritual, they come home to find their house burglarized. The film also garnered awards for cinematography and production design, and acting awards for Raquel Villavicencio and Julia Clarete.

Aureus Solito’s “Busong (Palawan Fate),” an official selection in this year’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, won best director. An amalgam of tales revolving around Palawan, it tells the journey of Angkarang (Rodfrigo Santikan), who carries his sister, Punay (Alessandra de Rossi), in a hammock in search of a cure for the unsightly wounds covering her body. Different people help Angkarang in carrying Punay, their own struggles reflecting hers.

“Patikul” by Joel Lamangan depicts how the generational conflict between the Muslim rebels and the military in Patikul, Sulu affects the lives of civilians, particularly teachers who struggle to carry on their work amid much adversity. The picture won best film for children, audience choice, and best supporting actor (Jaime Pebangco).

Cruz, mga opisyal ng CCP, kinasuhan sa Ombudsman

Adolf Alix’s “Isda,” an engaging magical-realist tale about a woman who gives birth to a milkfish, won best actor (Bembol Roco) and best editing (Alix).

In the Shorts category, best picture and audience choice awards went to Emerson Reyes’ “Walang Katapusang Kwarto,” which revolves around the absurd insights of pseudo-lovers after the act of making love. Special jury prize was Gina Santos’ “Hanapbuhay,” a comedy.

Thomasian Rommel “Milo” Tolentino again won best director for “Niño Bonito,” which shows how a young boy, Boni (John Michael Soriano), copes with the urban bleakness around him by his gift for rapping. Last year, Tolentino had also won best director for another coming of age movie, “P.” Ana May R. Dela Cruz, Alexandra A. Dimatera, Marianne S. Lastra and Maria Luisa A. Mamaradlo


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