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Meet the Skillful Directors for Cinemalaya '22 Full-length Features

The 18th Cinemalaya Film Festival is currently on-going in real life, with scheduled screenings at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and select cinemas nationwide.

Competing are 11 full-length films directed by the selected finalists from the 16th and 17th Cinemalaya Film Fest.

Whether we join in the festival at the said locations or wait until the online run on October, let's get to know these multi-talented and award-winning Filipino filmmakers:


Director, Angkas

Logline: Two estranged friends rebuild their embittered past while traveling together in a habal-habal to retrieve a dead pal.

Synopsis: Leo is not just an ordinary habal-habal driver. He is the resident ambulance and delivery man in a remote village in Compostela Valley, who is hired to transport the dead down the mountain. One day, his estranged friend, Miguel, appeared on his doorstep and insisted to join Leo in fetching the corpse of Ditas, their childhood friend who is a rebel pursued by the military. As Leo and Miguel embark on a dangerous journey in a habal-habal, their fragile friendship will be tested, and they will encounter danger only to be saved by an unlikely hero.

Filmmaker's Profile: Rainerio C. Yamson II is best known for his work on Silong (2015) and Area (2016), which won him FAMAS Award for Best in Cinematography, while Bhoy Instik (2017) and Magkakabaung (2014) were nominated in the same category.

For 18 years, he has been active in various media productions, working with both local and foreign directors for full-length films, commercials, documentaries, and TV dramas such as Hanggang Saan and The Greatest Love.

Currently he is the liaison officer for the Philippines at the ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards, and the Philippines representative for Asia Pacific Film Festival.


Director, Bakit Di Mo Sabihin?

Logline: A deaf couple learns that it is not their inability to speak or hear that tears them apart.

Synopsis: Deaf couple Miguel and Nat have been struggling to keep their marriage. After a huge fight, Miguel leaves his wife alone in Manila and decides to live in Baler with their kids. As he starts a new life, Miguel is reminded about the reasons he married Nat by his family's relentless stories about how modern a woman Nat is, and how he failed in so many ways to recognize that he fell in love with a younger deaf woman. One Christmas Eve, Miguel finally made a move to tell Nat everything she needed to know.

Filmmaker's Profile: Real S. Florido is a name that has made rounds in previous Cinemalaya Film Festivals. 1st Ko Si 3rd, his full-length feature, first premiered in Cinemalaya 2014. In the same year, it bagged awards at the QCinema International Film Fest and Hawaii International Film Fest. In 2015, he went on to win Rising Star Award for full-length Feature in the Canada International Film Fest.

He also co-directed Kabisera (2016) and produced Iska (2019), which won Best Sound, Best Screenplay and Best Actress in Cinemalaya 2019.

After working in GMA 7 for 13 years, he founded and continue to manage Firestarters, a film and digital content production company. His current movie and series projects include: Pilgrim: 500 Years Of Catholic Faith In The Philippines (2022), Habangbuhay (2022), and Kumusta Bro The Series (2022).


Director, Bula Sa Langit

Logline: A young soldier comes home after a siege and faces a different war.

Synopsis: Acting as if coming home from a vacation, young Marawi war veteran Wesley is excited to bring his girlfriend Ritz home to meet his family. Showered with unsolicited hero worship upon his homecoming, Wesley struggles to reconnect with his present relationships with his family and lover all while celebrating the town fiesta. Overwhelmed and alienated, the young soldier finds himself haunted by one of his traumatic kills, and in this internal war, he is alone. Compounded and triggered, his frustration shoots up in one of his conversations with Ritz. He impulsively goes to the carnival to confront his trauma.

Filmmaker's Profile: Sheenly Gener is an award-winning actress for stage, television, and film. One of her most notable performances was in Emerson Reyes’ Dormitoryo (Mga Walang Katapusang Kwarto) which won her Best Supporting Actress in the 2017 QCinema International Film Festival. She was also nominated Best Actress for her portrayal of Insiang in the theater play of the same name at the Aliw Awards 2002.

Her short film, Ikahuli, was a finalist in the 31st Gawad Alternatibo and in the GIFF Festival of New Cinema.

She holds an arts management degree from De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, and was a full scholar for theater arts at the Philippine High School for the Arts.

Presently, she is a mother, director, teacher, acting coach, yogi, kalista, biker, voice talent, and dubber. In media production, she is a SM, ASM, AD, 2AD, SC, FD, LP, and, PM among many other acronyms in a colorful and compact package.


Director, Kaluskos

Logline: In the middle of a custody battle, a single mother finds something underneath her daughter's bed that will question her love for her child.

Synopsis: Rebekah files for sole custody for her young daughter Amaya. But this doesn’t sit well with her estranged husband Jay. Amid the custody battle, Rebekah finds another “Amaya” under the bed. When the other Amaya emerges, Rebekah feels the motherly connection that she lost with her daughter. The other Amaya insists that she is the real Amaya trapped under the bed because of a curse, and the other one is the impostor. Wanting to start a new life with the other Amaya, Rebekah seeks to set her free. But to do that, she needs to kill the impostor.

Filmmaker's Profile: Roman S. Perez Jr. is a long time TV Assistant Director for various networks and film companies, and a writer and director for award-winning music videos, theater plays, and short films. Among his works are: Sol Searching (2018), Adan (2019), the Filipino adaptation of The Housemaid (2020), Pandemic Cinema Blockbuster film Taya (2021), House Tour (2021), Siklo (2021), Hugas and Putahe (2022).

Most of his works serve as social commentaries on the different social issues, highlighting the importance of not only the truth but topics that society is afraid of talking about.

He holds a Degree in Communication Arts from the University of the East-Caloocan, and a masters degree in Philippine Studies from UP Diliman. He studied filmmaking at the Mowelfund Film Institute.

He established Bagong Buwan Artist Collective and Pelikula Indiopendent.


Director, Kargo

Logline: A woman relieves the heavy burden from her past when she finally exacts revenge on the man who murdered her entire family.

Synopsis: When her entire family perished in a motorcycle accident at a rough highway in Maasin, Iloilo, Sara crashed into a deep depression, which was gradually replaced with an overpowering need to avenge them. Believing that her husband and daughter were murdered, she searches for the man who killed her entire family to find some closure. But at the end of her journey, she untangles something she did not quite expect – a discovery that could profoundly change her entire life.

Filmmaker's Profile: TM Malones is a cinematographer, producer, and director whose films have grabbed awards in multiple local and international Film Festivals. In 2013, his film, SALVI: Ang Pagpadayon debuted in the New Breed Category at the Sineng Pambansa National Film Festival: All-Masters Edition.

In 2017, he won Best in Cinematography for the film Baconaua (directed by Joseph Israel Laban) at the Young Critics Circle in the Circle Citations, as well as at the 13th Cinemalaya Film Festival. The following year, it received nominations for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography at the 66th FAMAS and at the 41st Gawad Urian. By 2019, it was also nimonated at the Asean International Film Festival.

His short film Bawod won Best Screenplay at the 13th Cinemalaya Film Festival, and was nominated for Best Short Film in the 41st Gawad Urian.

He holds a Degree in Filmmaking from the International Academy of Film and Television (IAFT) in Cebu, Philippines.


Director, The Baseball Player

Logline: A Moro child soldier aspires to become a baseball player amidst an all-out war

Synopsis: Amir, a 17-year-old Moro child soldier whose father was killed in all-out war in 2000, dreams to live a different life – he wants to become a baseball player. Training extensively with his coach, he makes it to the final tryout of a local university. Unfortunately, another all-out war against Moro rebels breaks out in 2003, and he is confronted with making a choice between pursuing his dream or fighting in the war.

Filmmaker's Profile: Carlo Obispo has participated in previous Cinemalaya Film Festivals, his feature debut Purok 7 being part of the 2013 edition of the Newbreed Category. This was followed by Gasping for Air (123) which was the opening film in the festival in 2016. In 2020, he wrote and directed the TV series focusing on Boys Love, Better Days.

He holds a degree in Bachelor of Philosophy Minor in Arts Communication at Saint Louis University.


Director, Blue Room

Logline: Progressive rock band members make a difficult choice between freedom or standing up for what they believe.

Synopsis: Rebel Rebel, an indie rock band comprised of woke, albeit sheltered teens, gets their biggest break at a prestigious local music festival. But after their celebratory night at the local bar, they are arrested for drug possession. Instead of the standard procedures, they were hauled to the Blue Room, a VIP detention area where they can bribe their way out, by rogue cops. The band members have to decide whether to use their privilege and go on with their lives or owning up to what they had been preaching.

Filmmaker's Profile: Ma-an L. Asuncion-Dagñalan is the producer, cinematographer, and co-writer of Layang Bilanggo (2010) which was Best Screenplay and Best Picture at the 2010 Cinema One Originals Film Festival.

She attended cinematography class in 2003 and studied Mexican filmmaking under the Mexican director Gustavo Loza in 2006 at the Mowelfund Film Institute. For scriptwriting, she trained under National Artist Ricky Lee and Armando Lao.

Blue Room is her first feature film as the director, where she was also a Pro Online Delegate for in the 74th Locarno International Film Festival.


Director, 12 Week

Logline: A single, 40-year-old woman is forced to deal with thoughts of motherhood.

Synopsis: After ending her toxic relationship with her boyfriend Ben, 40-year-old Alice discovers she is pregnant. With her age and current relationship status, her first instinct is to have the pregnancy terminated. As her body undergoes dramatic changes, Alice struggles and needs to decide what to do. Will she slide back into the arms of Ben? What will this mean for the child growing inside her?

Filmmaker's Profile: Anna Isabelle Matutina has been a producer, writer, director, and editor of her own short films since 2004. Among these are Panaginipan (2005), Puwang (2006), and Magdalena (2013).

12 Weeks is her first feature-length film. It has participated in the Bangkok Asean Film Festival’s first edition of the Southeast Asian Project Pitch (SEAPITCH).

She currently works as a director and editor for the documentary program I-Witness, where she and her team have bagged multiple local and international awards including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award in 2009 and a nomination for the International Emmy Awards in 2013.


Director, Batsoy

Logline: Two young siblings go on a fantastical adventure to satiate their much-coveted and delectable craving for batsoy.

Synopsis: After selling firewood for their basic needs, siblings Toto and Nonoy go to buy batsoy, the food that the younger brother has been craving the most. Mt. Manaphag, which faces the town of San Dionisio, becomes the silent witness to their journey to satisfy their craving. Their adventure will ultimately bring viewers to the world of magic, fantasy and reality.

Filmmaker's Profile: Ronald Espinosa Batallones is an Ilonggo director whose film Excuse Me Po (2018) was a finalist in the 2018 Cine Filipino. It also won in the MTRCB Screenplay Writing Contest in 2015.

He was part of the digital film series Raket, which was based on his award-winning screenplay Kalyehera.

He used to work in Kuwait as a medical laboratory scientist. He has worked on Benedict Mique’s Two Love You and is currently working on Martin Mayuga’s Anatomiya.

He is inspired by simple narratives of people around him or by his first-hand observations of life's explicit and subtle realities.


Director, Ginhawa

Logline: An aspiring boxer takes his fighting chances and discovers the grim reality of the sport.

Synopsis: Anton is an aspiring boxer. He hopes to continue the legacy of his older brother Saul, who was given a chance to escape poverty by joining a competition in the city but later faced tragedy. Against his mother’s wishes, Anton leaves their small fishing town to pursue boxing in Manila where he unravels the ugly truth of the brutal sport.

Filmmaker's Profile: Christian Paolo Lat is a Filipino-Canadian filmmaker whose short film Birds (2016) was nominated at the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival. He also received a Viddsee Juree Silver Award in 2017. The following year, he won Best Film and Best Actor with Ginhawa at the Sinulog Film Festival. His short film Pangako also participated in the Los Angeles Film Festival.

He studied filmmaking at the International Academy of Film and Television.

Currently, he is the showrunner for an upcoming TV series in an L.A-based streaming platform UrbanFlixTV, and the director/writer for an upcoming American TV series for the network ForUsByUs.


Directors, Retirada

Logline: A retired government employee’s new hobby leads to existential desperation and financial complications.

Synopsis: Despite her husband Edong’s assurance, Azon Marcelo experiences melancholia as she adjusts to her life as a retired government employee. Their neighbor Chayong introduces the game of Bingo to Azon. After hitting the jackpot, Azon becomes a regular Bingo player hoping to duplicate her initial windfall. But her new sense of purpose and the adrenaline rush from her new hobby would teach her what retirement really means.

Filmmakers' Profiles: Milo Alto Paz is a writer, director, and TV & Film producer whose documentaries and short features: Kakosa, Pitong Maria, Tamaraw Quest, Si Vina at si Jane, and Sigaw ni Longinus were winners of the Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video in their respective years.

He directed and produced Star Cinema’s first Digital film Taxi ni Pilo (2001), Lugaw for Viva Films’ omnibus film Imahenasyon (2006), and co-directed Boses (2008), a Cinemalaya finalist.

He worked as an Executive Producer and Director for GMA 7’s Entertainment Group and News & Public Affairs.

Cynthia Cruz-Paz is a writer whose screenplays were selected as semi-finalists in various film festivals. In 2013, her short film Boda de Oro won 2nd prize at the 25th Gawad Alternatibo.

She has written romance novels and has been involved in some seminal independent film productions as a producer and production manager. At the present, she is a brainstormer/writer in various TV series.

Together, Milo Alto Paz and Cynthia Cruz-Paz produces video documentaries on important issues and advocacies such as child protection, environmental and cultural conservation, human rights, and values formation for NGOs, government agencies and private institutions.

With these professionals and their films, Cinemalaya is no doubt grabbing all our ears and more this 2022.

For further updates and information, visit the CCP and Cinemalaya websites, and follow their official social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



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