Despite being a Cinemalaya regular, there have been instances when I would miss a film or two from the Festival. The screening schedules may be a bit tight for some festival-goers, which is why here in Unreel, we go on a “Cinemalaya Binge”, where we dedicated full days to see all the Shorts and Full-Length entries of Cinemalaya. We then collate our reviews of the films in a “Cinemalaya Festival Report”, so that our readers can get quicker yet more concise reviews of the films.
If you have missed some Cinemalaya films in the past, worry not because iFlix got you covered. Here are the Cinemalaya movies streaming right now in iFlix:
Sana Dati (2013)
Director: Jerrold Tarog Cast: Lovi Poe, Paulo Avelino, Benjamin Alves, TJ Trinidad Synopsis: The ﬁlm is a love story about a woman whose wedding is thrown into disarray when a mysterious person arrives and reminds her of the man she really loves.
Director: Jade Castro Cast: Jason Abalos, Ina Feleo, Ricky Davao Synopsis: Leo belongs to a poor family. Because he did not finish his studies, his only option is to work as a contractual worker in various establishments. In one job, he met a high-spirited girl named Tanya with whom he got romantically involved. In their relationship, he wishes to feel fulfillment and sense of security with her, but he is not prepared for this additional commitment.
Director: Giancarlo Abrahan Cast: Eula Valdez, Nonie Buencamino, Martin del Rosario, Sandino Martin, Max Eigenmann Synopsis: Jimmy and Issey Tolentino, both professors in the University of the Philippines, are on the brink of separation after 25 years of marriage. Jimmy, a Philippine Studies professor, falls in love with a deity that is the subject of his research when he mistakes it for the ghost of an ex-girlfriend. Issey, a creative writing professor, retreats to Dumaguete where she mentors young writers in a workshop. Here, she is drawn to a young writer named Gab, who is also a student back in the university. When Gab wins a national literary prize for a non-fiction piece on his sexual awakening, a scandal ensues that puts their relationships under the spotlight.
Director: Milo Sogueco Cast: Mylene Dizon, Ricky Davao, Bing Pimentel, Barbie Forteza Synopsis: Imelda Guevarra, a successful businesswoman, who grew up with an emotionally distant father, Romeo, a once recognized shoemaker who lost both his shoe factory and his beloved wife. When Imelda was informed about her father’s death, she tentatively proceeds with the funeral preparations. Her search for the last perfect pair of shoes serves as the catalyst that opens up old wounds. It also unlocks memories of growing up in awe at how her father could transform a sheet of leather into something perfect to wear on her feet, igniting recollections of why her mother, Leonor, left them. The rise, fall, and revival of shoemaking in Marikina, the footwear capital of the Philippines are unraveled through the story of Imelda and Romeo, aided by a delightfully rare cinematic appearance by the former first lady and patroness of shoes, Imelda Marcos.
Director: Isabel Sandoval Cast: Jodi Sta. Maria, Mylene Dizon, Raquel Villavicencio, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio Synopsis: Sister Lourdes, a newcomer to a convent, avoids Mother Superior to attend political rallies with Sister Remy, a young nun suffering from a crisis of faith after her brother’s disappearance.
Director: Jason Paul Laxamana Cast: Alex Medina, Joey Paras, Alma Concepcion, Nico Antonio Synopsis: Greg uses a fake Facebook account to trick people into depositing money into his bank account. Assuming the persona of a fictional guy named Bam, he flirts with a filthy rich woman that he met online. But in time, he falls in love with Daisy and is confused whether he will push through with the scam or admit his feelings for Daisy.
Baby Angelo (2008)
Director: Joel Ruiz Cast: Archie Alemania, Dante Balois, Alchris Galura, Mark Gil Synopsis: When an aborted baby is found in the garbage of a low-income apartment complex, an investigation ensues, uncovering the secrets of its tenants.
Big Time (2005)
Director: Mario Cornejo Cast: Michael De Mesa, Winston Elizalde, Nor Domingo Synopsis: Danny and Jonas are two petty crooks who dream of moving into the big scene. When their carefully-planned kidnapping goes askew, Danny and Jonas find themselves in a tangle neither of them can handle.
Director: Jon Steffan Ballesteros Cast: Alfred Vargas, Lou Veloso, Joe Mari Avellana Synopsis: Two people. Simon a promising young cop working part-time as a driver of one of the many “undocumented” and ‘illegal’ FX taxis in the metro. And Pedro, a 70-year-old ex-convict. An unfortunate incident forces the two together to embark on a road trip across the Historic Philippine East Coast. The film looks at the paradox of the human condition, and the “grayscale” morality that is today’s Philippines.
Director: Alvin Yapan Cast: Paulo Avelino, Mara Lopez Synopsis: Mando, a Bikolano devotee of Ina, Virgin of Penafrancia, Patroness of Bikolandia, injures himself in the middle of the forest at the foot of the Mayon Volcano. He will be nursed back to health by a mysterious woman, Salome, living there. They will fall in love with each other. But when Mando invites her to come with him to the plains, Salome refuses, saying a curse prohibits her from leaving the forest. Salome holds a secret that will devastate Mando’s love for her. Mando relies on his devotion to the Virgin of Penafrancia to lift the curse, making realize how inextricably linked are the virtues of love and faith.
Director: Mark Meily Cast: Meryl Soriano, Baron Geisler, Bearwin Meilly, Arnold Reyes Synopsis: Lizette Bernal dreams of leaving the Philippines and work abroad. She gets her chance to pursue her dream if she will sell her kidney to a wealthy donor but because a new law prohibits any organ transplant procedure between Filipinos and foreigners, Lizette agrees to marry her kidney’s recipient in exchange for cash.
Director: Jeffrey Jeturian Cast: Vilma Santos, Marlon Rivera, Vincent de Jesus, Ruby Ruiz, Tart Carlos Synopsis: Ekstra follows a seemingly usual day in the life of Loida Malabanan as she embarks on yet another shooting day of a soap opera as an extra. As the shoot goes on, we get a glimpse of the truth in the ruling system of the production as well as the exploitation of the marginalized laborers like her.
Director: Pepe Diokno Cast: Felix Roco, Daniel Medrana, Zyrus Desamparado, Celso Ad Castillo Synopsis: Inspired by true events, Engkwentro follows the last 24 hours of Richard and Raymond, two teenage brothers on opposite sides of a gang war. Richard is the leader of his gang, “Bagong Buwan” (“New Moon”) while Raymond is just being inducted into “Batang Dilim” (“Children of the Night”), a rival gang led by charming solvent boy, Tomas. Complications arise at a deadly midnight “engkwentro” (clash), when Tomas gives Raymond the task of killing his older brother.
Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe (2009)
Director: Alvin Yapan Cast: Irma Adlawan, TJ Trinidad, Noni Buencamino, Mercedes Cabral Synopsis: Each morning, baskets of black fruits mysteriously appear by the front yard of Fe. Thinking that it was a reconciliatory gesture from her abusive husband, Dante, Fe tells him about it. This only confirms Dante’s suspicions that she might be entertaining a lover.
Instant Mommy (2013)
Director: Leo Abaya Cast: Eugene Domingo, Yuki Matsuzaki, Luis Alandy, Rico Puno, Tuesday Vargas, Matt Evans Synopsis: Instant Mommy follows the story of Bechayda, a two-months-pregnant wardrobe assistant for TV commercial production. In the fear of losing her Japanese lover and her dreams of a better life, she embarks on a plan that will get herself out of her predicament. Or so she thinks.
Director: Michael Angelo Dagnalan Cast: Jourdan Sebastian, Joel Olaño, Teddy Corpuz Synopsis: The film is a story of a cellphone snatcher, J, who got into trouble when he steals Sam’s cellphone (a former cop-drug dealer). J thinks he hits it big-time when he gets a drug delivery through the snatched phone. The movie portrays man’s attachment to material things that leads him to bad decisions and situations.
Director: Francis Pasion Cast: Baron Geisler, Coco Martin, Flor Salanga, JC Santos Synopsis: Jay Mercado, a homosexual teacher from Pampanga, has been found dead in his home, the victim of a violent murder. Television producer Jay Santiago, himself a homosexual, decides to create a documentary on the murder. He takes advantage of Mercado’s impoverished family to create a high-rated documentary, which is shown in the first 15 minutes of the film. As it turns out, through the documentary the criminal is found and brought to justice.
Ligaw Liham (2007)
Director: Jay Abello Cast: Karylle, Dingong Dantes Synopsis: Sometime in the 70’s, in a small town in Negros, the post office simply stops its operations. No one knew about this except for the postman and his caretaker. When Nor, the town simpleton, finds out about this secret, he finds an opportunity to sway to the dance of love when he assumes the identity of another man. Nor reads the letters hidden in an old warehouse and takes over the pen of Karen’s husband who was working in Saigon. Soon after, a correspondence between Nor and Karen takes place. And Nor finds himself truly falling in love.
Director: Jay Abello Cast: Christian Vasquez, Angel Jacob, Peque Gallaga, Joel Torre Synopsis: Jacko Teves owns Puccini’s, an Italian restaurant in Bacolod City. When a monstrous cock fighting debt sets him at odds with Boss Dolpo, he offers his restaurant up as payment. Boss Dolpo brings in Cassie Labayen as a consultant to renovate the restaurant. Much to Jacko’s dismay, Cassie decides to offer Negrense cuisine instead of Italian. The pair then set off across the province re-discovering the unique aspects of Negrense food.
Director: Loy Arcenas Cast: Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, Shamaine Buencamino, Tony Mabesa, Art Acuna Synopsis: The once illustrious Lopez-Aranda family has faded. Celia, once the darling of Philippine opera, and Gaspar, a distinguished ex-congressman, lacked the shrewdness to maintain their once elegant status. Saddled with a failed marriage, a vanishing career and mounting debt, Celia sold her share of their house to Gaspar, now bedridden. A fervent believer of the Sto. Nino, she hopes for a miracle. She dresses up her grandson, Antony, in Sto. Nino robes to prepare him for the coming fiesta. She insists this will invoke a miracle that will awaken Gaspar and stop Raquel from selling the house. Antony’s father, Mombic, while processing his travel papers to work in Dubai, tries to strike a deal with Raquel in selling the property without his mother Celia’s knowledge. The family members clash in a confrontation that reveals their weaknesses and their hopeless ideals.
Director: Joel Lamangan Cast: Marvin Agustin, Allen Dizon, Glaiza de Castro, Ciara Sotto, Dimples Romana, Jaime Pebanco Synopsis: Patikul tells the story of Kan-Ague Elementary School in Patikul, Sulu. Two of Kan-Ague’s best students are chosen to compete in the region’s quiz bee. Determined to grab the top prize, the students prepare for the quiz bee with the help of the school’s supportive principal and teachers. However, the students get caught in the middle of the hostilities between the government and the terrorists.
Pepot Artista (2005)
Director: Clodualdo Del Mundo Jr. Cast: Elijah Castillo, Rio Locsin, Cris Villanueva Synopsis: The film is a story of a cellphone snatcher, J, who got into trouble when he steals Sam’s cellphone (a former cop-drug dealer). J thinks he hits it big-time when he gets a drug delivery through the snatched phone. The movie portrays man’s attachment to material things that leads him to bad decisions and situations.
Pink Halo Halo (2010)
Director: Joselito Altarejos Cast: Allen Dizon, Angeli Bayani, Dexter Doria, Mark Fabillar, Paolo Constantino Synopsis: Natoy, like any other child, finds joy and excitement in the simplest of things — especially in eating halo-halo filled with pink gelatin and red sago. Things change suddenly when, as he is watching television, a news report about the ongoing war in Mindanao shows footage of a badly wounded soldier waiting for rescue. That soldier — almost bleeding to death, was his father, Corporal Lino Bolante.
Director: Nick Olanka Cast: Ai-ai delas Alas, Carlos Morales, Julian Trono, Angeli Bayani Synopsis: “Ronda” follows the journey of Paloma, a policewoman who patrols the streets of Manila at night. She is looking for her teenage son who has been missing for days. As she searches, she discovers truths about herself and the corrupt system she works in.
Director: Joel Lamangan Cast: ZsaZsa Padilla, Dawn Zulueta, Tirso Cruz III, Gina Alajar, Marvin Agustin, Allen Dizon, Pauleen Luna, Lovi Poe, Megan Young Synopsis: “Sigwa,” meaning “storm,” spans 40 years of Philippine social unrest. The story is initially told by Fil-Am Dolly, a junior correspondent of a US magazine, who was sent to the Philippines in 1970 to do a story on student activism in Manila. Today, she has returned after being arrested and deported in 1975, on the third year of martial law. Her mission is personal this time: to look for her daughter, who was supposed to have died 35 years ago, but who, she has been told, is alive.
Director: Zurich Chan Cast: Alfred Vargas, Sue Prado, Lilit Reyes Synopsis: Teoriya is a story about loss that centers on the film’s main character, Jimmuel Apostol II. After hearing the news that his father has passed away, Jim goes back home to Zamboanga City after leaving ten years ago in bad terms with his father. He arrives in Zamboanga only to find that his father has already been buried and he doesn’t know where. Jim takes a journey around the Zamboanga peninsula and ultimately into his own self, finding the missing piece of his life.
The Diplomat Hotel (2013)
Director: Christopher Ad Castillo Cast: Gretchen Baretto, Art Acuna, Mon Confiado, Joel Torre, Nico Antonio Synopsis: Victoria Lansang is a popular news reporter who has been requested to mediate a hostage crisis. And in front of a national television audience, something horribly goes wrong and people are killed while Victoria suffers a mental breakdown. A year later, she’s eager to get back into the game. However, the only assignment she can get is to do a documentary on the last night of The Diplomat Hotel in Baguio City, a crumbling and abandoned building infamously known for its bloody past and its hauntings. Looking for redemption, she arrives there with her crew and they start ﬁlming. But as they get deeper into the night, the place starts to exert its will on them and they ﬁnd out exactly what monstrous evil awaits at The Diplomat Hotel. By daybreak, their lives will never be the same again.
Director: Jim Libiran Cast: Karl Eigger Balingit, Charena Escala, Havy Bagatsing Synopsis: In the darker side of Manila-by-night, tribes of youthful gangsters roam the streets in search of quick fixes and precarious thrills. World-weary Tondo throbs to the beat of of hiphop and freestyle gangsta rap, and to the scents and sensations of drugs and sex and violence. We witness this crepus-cular underworld through the eyes of ten-year-old Ebet. We follow him as he witnesses the deadly lives of teen age gang members in Tondo and the events that lead to their explosive confrontation. The Thugz Angels tribe members chance upon a blood-soaked body of a member of another gang. The battle is about to begin!
Vox Populi (2010)
Director: Dennis Marasigan Cast: Irma Adlawan, Bobby Andrews, Julio Diaz, Jim Libiran Synopsis: It is Saturday before the 2nd Monday of May, the last day of the official campaign period before elections. Connie is the daughter of a former mayor of the town of San Cristobal and is now running for the same position. She is now running a three-cornered campaign against the former Vice-Mayor and a former student leader, helped by her brother Ricky, campaign manager Tony and an increasing number of supporters. On this day, she goes out on a factory and market visit, a house-to-house campaign, attends the signing of a covenant for clean elections and her “miting de avance”. She also meets with influential individuals, all in pursuit of an irreversible bandwagon that will prove she is the popular choice of the people.
While it’s an entirely different experience watching your favorite films in the theater, we appreciate the convenience that iFlix offers, being able to watch local films on demand. I say that the best place to experience Cinemalaya is in CCP, but in case you missed some of the festival entries, iFlix got your back! Let’s just hope that we get to see more Cinemalaya films on the platform soon.