IT SEEMS there’s still hope for Philippine cinema.

The recently concluded Cinemalaya, an annual festival of independent films, ended with a flourish with tickets almost immediately sold out and the largest audience so far in its first decade. Leading the roster of notable films was the festival’s top grosser “Ekstra” directed by Jeffrey Jeturian and which starred Vilma Santos as a TV bit player. Also worth mentioning are Joseph Israel Laban’s “Nuwebe” and Jerrold Tarog’s “Sana Dati.”

The Sineng Pambansa National Film Festival is another event that deserves utmost patronage. Themed “All-Masters Edition,” the festival featured 10 independent films from some of the most respected filmmakers in the industry. Among those is Thomasian director Gil Portes’ “Ang Tag-araw ni Twinkle,” a moving film about teen rebellion, the importance of family, religion and self-maturity. Portes, who is also the man behind the well-received Cinemalaya film “Liars,” says he aims to let the audience “think and ask questions” with the movie’s every scene.

Although not as popular as Cinemalaya, the Sineng Pambansa also promises films that equal, sometimes even surpass, the depth of those from Cinemalaya.

There is also much buzz about the increasing number of Filipino films being qualified in international film festivals and competitions. Perhaps the most talked about is Erik Matti’s “On the Job,” which revolves around the lives of four men trying to keep themselves and their families alive amid political throttling and power rummage. The film was one of twenty-one selected feature films screened in the Directors’ Fortnight at the most recent Cannes Film Festival in France.

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Jeturian’s “Ekstra” held its international premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival under the Contemporary World Cinema section. Meanwhile, “Transit” by Hannah Espia has been chosen by the Film Academy of the Philippines as the country’s entry in the best foreign language film category of the Oscar awards next year.

“Transit” was a major success in this year’s Cinemalaya, earning 10 awards including best director and best film. The film revolves around the hardships of a Filipino family working in Israel after the government passes a law ordering overseas workers’ children 5 years old and below to be deported.

More and more independent films are slowly edging their way outside the premises of the local film industry into the more challenging realm of the international filmmaking scene. Pleasantly enough, most of their efforts really do pay off; Filipinos are slowly being recognized not only for their humility but for their filmmaking prowess as well.

Is this a sign of cinematic redemption?

Hopefully, our independent film industry’s thriving success both here and in the international scope will finally be enough to crack into the boring parades of clichés and recycled storylines. May this be the start of a new era of filmmaking that will finally be able to change how we see the mainstream.

The full revival of Philippine cinema may still be a long way.

But slowly and surely, Philippine cinema is on its way to redemption.

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