10 Step Guide to Cinemalaya: A guide for the faint-hearted
Cinemalaya Film Festival is slowly becoming a ‘thing’ now. And why wouldn’t? As its name denotes, it’s a wanton liberation from everything that is ideal and virtuous, idyllic and happy endings. Never have been the characters portrayed so dysfunctionally, so real and flaw(ed)lessly. They question your frame of mind, they provoke you into thinking that everything you ever thought to be right is ‘not right’ for others. They make you feel, they amuse, they remind you of historical and political tangle we are all caught in. They don’t aim to please, they aim to offer a fresh (or so, we hope) perspective.
So here’s a guide for those who think they won’t handle the intensity of the message behind these films. Cinemalaya virgins or veterans, feel free to take down tips on my guide while watching Cinemalaya films.
1. Most films in Cinemalaya may take a long time to build the characters and the plot. Audience used to Hollywood-ish Michael Bay explosions in every ten seconds would find it hard to concentrate at first. But hey, the patience is worth
it. If the film bores you, you’re probably boring. Joking aside, if you can’t handle indie pace, just stick to mainstream and don’t you dare compare these two or no one will like you.
2. Profanity is common. Because it depicts reality. Because real people say ‘putangina’ and ‘gago’. If you don’t, you’re just an abstraction, an abomination. . Or you just hated the thought of cussing verbally.
3. Expect nude/sex/gory scenes. Much as I hate to admit it, some films took way too much time exposing the audience to unnecessary sexual, graphic scenes. Well, using this to captivate or shock audience must have worked before because it’s becoming a trend now. However, you can check out which films that are rated 16 or 18 and pick a film where you think you won’t entirely be grossed out. If you decide to be more daring and picked an R-18, just try not to look scandalized inside the cinema and close that mouth, why don’t ya?
4. Experiment. In my first Cinemalaya, I didn’t check out the directors or the writers or the actors behind the film. I just randomly picked a film with a storyline which interested me that time. And the results were good. Sure some films can
disappoint, but please don’t let it stop you from checking out other entries (PS So far, no Cinemalaya film has disappointed me, but it’s gotta be my weird taste talking so…)
5. Internalize. Cinemalaya films provoke you to think. To feel. To look at an issue in a certain angle. If you felt you’re having an epiphany, don’t stop. Don’t look at your cellphone or veer your attention to somewhere else other than the film. Just think and feel the moment.
6. Look past the technical concerns. If you’re someone who keeps a sharp eye on technical flaws, or problems with lighting, audio, etc., or a general constructive criticism of the film, please try to refrain from voicing your concerns while watching the film for the sake of our sanity. That’s Politeness 101. Reserve your concerns later. Be reminded that these
films are low-budget films and post-production is the most tedious, (even more so) expensive process. Focus on the song, not on the recorder. (lousy metaphor, I know, but film Killjoys are lousier)
7. Watch as many films as you can. This is also showing support for budding Filipino filmmakers. Cinemalaya films do not release copies of their own while your “Guardians of the Galaxy” would find its way on DVDs and blue rays later on.
8. Stay until the end of Q and A. In some cases, the director and the cast are invited for a Q and A by the end of the film. There’s no harm in staying. You will get to know their insights, and if you’re lucky, get them to answer some of your
burning questions. You may even had the chance to get an autograph or have a quick selfie with them if you’re fast enough to ambush them (or glomp them, however, it is strictly inadvisable to do so)
9. Bring friends who knew when to talk and when to shut up. You can’t concentrate if your friend would always be like “Bakit niya ginawa yun? Nakakaantok naman. Ang tagal naman ng climax, etc.” and neither are the people around you. (Why are you hanging out with these friends anyway?)
10. Make it an annual thing. Make it a ritual, or an event to catch up with friends and family. Or add it to your thins to do during your ”me” time. Be part of its evolution and watch out for the next big thing and that film may be the Philippines’ first Oscar win in Best Foreign Language Film Category or recipients of international awards. In fact, support not just Cinemalaya but other indie film festivals out there. I promise, you won’t regret it.