Cinephilia is a full-time job; festival-going a year-round affair. For cinephiles, watching as many movies (you can only see in festivals) as you can is always a priority.
But not all film festivals get the same screen time as others. The staples—Cinemalaya, Cinema One Originals, QCinema, and others—aren’t easy to miss. If you are a serious moviegoer, however, you’ll find that smaller and lesser-known film fests are just as worthy to attend.
Which brings us here: our ultimate, definitive list of film festivals in the Philippines.
We’ve scoured the internet for information on each festival so you won’t miss one this year. Note that some information isn’t completely set in stone, including dates and locations. Some fests tend to try out different venues for their programs.
Down to the very end of the post is a form that festival organizers can use to add their film festival to the list (or update an existing listing).
Here’s the complete list of film festivals in the Philippines.
Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF)
Sadly the one festival that every Filipino knows about. Sad because of its current state, which is mostly made up of controversy, corruption, and not a whole lot of great movies.
Still, it’s hard to argue against the place MMFF has in Filipino culture; December is the one month where Filipinos all go to the movies.
UPDATE: There will be a “Metro Manila Summer Festival”, which serves as an annex of the regular MMFF programmed in December. The new fest is expected to launch the summer of this year.
Metro Manila Film Festival Every December, in theaters nationwide Facebook | Website
Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival
Cinemalaya is the premier independent film festival in the country. Each year a number of feature films, short films, and documentaries receive grants and compete for awards.
Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival Every August, in select theaters Facebook | Website
QCinema International Film Festival (QCIFF)
Programmed by the local government of Quezon City, QCinema is fast becoming one of our favorite local film festivals. A huge part of it is owed to the gears that make its machinery move, which gives us cinephiles the opportunities to watch foreign gems you’d normally only be able to watch abroad.
Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention its original films. Its Circle Competition yields some of the best movies we seen on the yearly, including last year’s “Oda Sa Wala”.
QCinema International Film Festival Every October, in Quezon City cinemas Facebook | Website
CinemaOne Originals Festival (C1 Originals)
CinemaOne Originals is one of the more established film festivals in the country. A yearly tradition by its eponymous cable channel (owned by ABS-CBN), the fest like QCinema is known to bring many foreign titles for the local audiences to enjoy.
The local titles—which supplies the “Originals” part of its name—come from a typically diverse selection of filmmakers who aim to tell more unique stories.
CinemaOne Originals Festival Every November, in select theaters Facebook | Website
Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP)
Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino is an interesting festival. It’s owned and programmed by the FDCP (chaired as of this writing by Liza Diño-Seguerra) to provide Filipino moviegoers a nationwide film fest that offered more diversity in terms of the stories on offer.
The fest has been recently receiving flak for its questionable decisions when it comes to its selection of entries. I have my own qualms and frustrations about this fest, but I’m hopeful it will get its act straight. It has the power and the platform to shake things up.
Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino Every September, in theaters nationwide Facebook | Website
More Filipino film festivals
There are more film festivals in the Philippines, many of which are themed (by concept, region, and language, among others).
I urge you to check these out when you can. You’d be surprised by the number of great movies you’ll discover if you just seek them out.