Giving Back to Cinemalaya Film Festival: Let’s Watch at Home!

By Euden Valdez; Photos Courtesy of CCP

BRIGHT lights everywhere. Above, three magnificent chandeliers hang, its dangling crystals illuminating the already grand hall with glamour. Spotlights bring the eyes to the exhibits along the wall. And at the second floor balcony, multi-colored light bulbs spell Cinemalaya.

This is the scene that has been engraved in my memory in the last decade of covering the country’s premiere and leading independent film festival, held annually at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

This is also the scene that I will surely miss this year, as the 16th edition of Cinemalaya will be officially be held virtually—the as a result of the pandemic that we all still grapple with in our own ways.

While it is totally the right thing to do considering safety concerns and protocols, the temporary digital showing will still sadden every Filipino film aficionado like myself. After all, Cinemalaya has not only shaped my appreciation and yearning for our arts and culture, but has also brought me better understanding of our societies, the decay and the beauty combined.

For this, what better way to give back to the film festival than to support it by watching at the comforts of our home.

From August 7 to 16, catch 10 short films in competition at Vimeo. Yes, there will be no full-length features in this digital edition, another change that co-organizers CCP and Cinemalaya Foundation Inc. decided on.

Out of 244 entries, here are the chosen and featured short films for Cinemalaya 2020:

Ang Gasgas na Plaka ni Lolo Bert (The Broken Vinyl Record)

Directors: Janina Gacosta and Cheska Marfori

Synopsis: A closeted gay man in his 60s has been living with HIV for 10 years. His monotonous life takes a sudden turn when he receives an old vinyl record from his dead ex-lover.

Ang Pagkalma sa Unos (To Calm the Pig Inside)

Director: Joanna Vasquez Arong

Synopsis: “Ang Pagkalma sa Unos” contemplates on the effects a typhoon leaves on a seaside city. A girl’s voice divulges bits and pieces of her own memory of her grandmother and mother to tie in the experiences she felt visiting this ravaged port city.

Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss

Director: Sonny Calvento

Synopsis: Vangie, a miserable contractual sales lady, is about to lose her job. But in her desperate attempt to convince her boss not to sack her, Vangie uncovers the ultimate jaw-dropping secret to regularization. “Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss” is a social satire about the plight of contractual workers in the Philippines.


Director: James Robin Mayo

Synopsis: “Fatigued” is an interactive short film where audience participation is important. It is about an employee who overslept and must wake-up from his/her nightmare. The idea behind this short film is to make a film that will exclusively let you feel the cinematic experience.

Living Things

Director: Martika Ramirez Escobar

Synopsis: Kints and Charles have been together for almost a decade. One day, Kints wakes up and discovers that her lover has changed, literally.

Pabasa kan Pasyon

Director: Hubert Tibi

Synopsis: Religion and economy take center stage in a Bicolano family’s story, set during the Lenten season. To make ends meet, one of them turns to religion and pushes his mother to make a living off her faith.hat turns to religion to make both ends meet.

Quing Lalam Ning Aldo (Under the Sun)

Director: Reeden Fajardo

Synopsis: Upon learning that their son is coming home after 15 years, Budang and Georgia, transgender farmers from Pampanga, decided to surprise Janjan by renovating their neglected kitchen and cook their favorite dish “con saleng manuk” but things will not work as planned.

The Slums

Director: Jan Andrei Cobey

Synopsis: A mockumentary, “The Slums” follows a documentary team who progressively intervenes and trespasses into the lives of a poor family living in the slums as they try to cope with the loss of their TV.


Director: Carla Pulido Ocampo

Starring: In “Tokwifi,” a 1950s mestiza star, trapped inside a television that fell from the sky, dreams up a romantic romp with a Bontok Igorot man who does not know how to kiss. 

Utwas (Arise)

Directors: Richard Salvadico and Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay

Synopsis: Toto and his father live in an island where the primary source of their livelihood is the ocean. One afternoon, while Toto and his father are diving, a group of fishermen throw dynamites around them.a young boy discovers the ocean as he tries to learn how to dive and fish.

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