DECEMBER 05, 2019

See you at the movies


From opening doors to international fare to showcasing emerging local talent, it’s been a great year for film festivals at Ayala Malls — most recently Cinema One Originals.

Going to the movies used to be the best way to spend time with other people, whether it’s quality time with family, hanging out with friends, or going on a date — maybe even taking some time for yourself. Even now, there’s something familiar and comforting yet thrilling about taking a seat in the dark with your snack of choice and enjoying trailers and a much-anticipated film, that incomparable healthy escapism of suspending your disbelief and forgetting about the world beyond the cinema for a while.

The cinema remains a weekend haunt that brings people together, even if it may be harder to find time for it and prices have been rising. But moviegoing as an experience, and deeper public interest in the film, has become more exciting than ever thanks to film festivals, plenty of which are now more accessible to everyone with screenings in malls.

Ayala Malls have been a great part of this movement, evidenced by the Movie Fest section of Sureseats. There’s the Eigasai Japanese Film Festival, for example, which allowed viewers to experience their favorite Makoto Shinkai and Studio Ghibli movies on the big screen, among others. There’s also the French Film Festival, which has been an annual celebration for over two decades, and treated local moviegoers to screenings of Bande de Filles a.k.a. Girlhood and Varda by Agnes this year. The QCinema Film Festival, aside from presenting wonderful new narratives as part of its main competition, has also featured sought-after worldwide festival favorites like Burning (long before wide release!) as well as restored classics like the mystery art film Blow-Up.

The year in film festivals culminates with the Metro Manila Film Festival, of course, but just before that comes the Cinema One Originals Film Festival, which effortlessly bridges the gap between mass appeal and filmmaking as an art. For over 10 years, it has provided a platform for Filipino filmmakers and storytellers to share brilliant new tales — not to mention a launching pad for some well-loved movies like Petersen Vargas’ 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten, Antoinette Jadaone’s That Thing Called Tadhana, and Shireen Seno’s Nervous Translation.

Cinema One Originals has also expanded to showcasing short films, best-of selections featuring previous entries and winners, restored classics by ABS-CBN’s Film Restoration Project, and world cinema like this year’s The Lighthouse and Portrait of a Lady on Fire, along with special screenings like Knives Out and closing film Dead Kids, which is the country’s first Netflix Original.

Cinema One Originals’ 2019 lineup for the main competition included Jury Prize winner Utopia, a different take on the War on Drugs; Metamorphosis, a coming-of-age story about an intersex teen; Tayo Muna Habang Hindi Pa Tayo, which explores what it means to ask each other, “What are we?”; Tia Madre, in which a child begins to think her horrible aunt is an even worse creature; O, an ambitious yet literally unfinished probe into the mind of a secret necrophiliac who works at a funeral parlor; Lucid, where a lucid dreamer’s subconscious gets tangled with another’s; Yours Truly, Shirley, about a widow who falls for a pop star she thinks is the reincarnation of her late husband; and Sila-Sila, a post-breakup story that tackles modern romance and is an excellent example of the festival’s openness to exploring LGBTQ+ themes, which won Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Audience Choice.

Through festivals like Cinema One Originals, Filipino film enthusiasts are able to experience the best of cinema the whole world over, not to mention show support to emerging and celebrated filmmakers from the country as well. Film festivals have made it possible to tell more stories from so many more points of view, making huge strides for representation, innovation, and risktaking. If that’s not something worth proclaiming on a marquee, it’s hard to tell what is.