Filipino movies

LOOK: What’s on CINE LOKAL this September

Susan Claire Agbayani
LOOK: What’s on CINE LOKAL this September
Select SM cinemas have been showcasing indie films on a regular basis; with the screening of at least one "indie" film every single week

MANILA, Philippines –  Launched just in April this year, Cine Lokal – as what it’s called – is a new cinema line that houses award-winning, independently-produced Filipino films, regional films, classic films from great Filipino directors, limited-release foreign films, and programs of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP). The agreement was signed in March by FDCP chair and CEO Liza Dino, and SM Lifestyle Entertainment, Inc. (SMLEI) President Edgar Tejerero.

Cine Lokal aims to provide indie filmmakers a commercial venue for their films, and provide training on marketing and distribution. It also wishes to “create a culture of support and viewership among Filipinos nationwide,” according to Dino. Tejerero sees also the opportunity of SM Cinema to expand its content, and “invite a new set of audience.”

Among the SM malls chosen as the location of the films are those in Fairview, Iloilo, Cebu, Bacoor, North Edsa, Southmall, Megamall, and Mall of Asia. Tickets are at P150.

 Mike Alcazaren’s Puti

Mike Alcazaren’s psychological thriller Puti, stars Ian Veneracion as Amir Luna – a master art forger – and Jasmine Curtis-Smith as his apprentice. Amir had just lost his wife 2 years ago. He and his son get into a car crash. Amir’s son goes into a coma, while he himself becomes color blind.

It is currently showing, until tomorrow,Thursday, Sept. 14

“I completed the screenplay for Puti in 2009. The film was inspired by Schubert’s classical opera piece The Erlking which tells the story of a father who rushes his ill son to the doctor on horseback. While riding through the woods, they encounter the malevolent spirit Erlking. This idea of facing death and the relationship of father and son was an interesting theme for a film. Also, I wanted to explore the similarities between the art forms of painting and cinema. The two are intertwined in that they present an artist’s perspective of life in broad strokes. This gives the viewer more involvement in the art form by allowing different interpretations of the images presented before them.  It just makes the experience more participatory; this is as far as the medium of film is concerned,” Alcazaren said during an interview with Rappler.

Alcazaren who says he “just likes telling stories” actually got into filmmaking early. In the 1980s, he and his brothers spent summers doing stop-motion animation short films. But he somehow forayed into advertising and stayed there for decades.

“I’m a late bloomer. Extremely late. I did (Puti) when I was 49. That’s after 20-odd years mainly in advertising and doing documentaries. But cinema was my first love. I guess I was too insecure to pursue my filmmaking aspirations. But that was animation. Doing live-action was very different. You also have to remember that my interest in film was during the pre-digital, pre-internet days and the way you got into film/movies usually was through mentorship. It was very difficult to break into the industry. And I wasn’t really a natural writer. I’m more of a visual essayist so it took a while for me to summon enough courage to write stories, much more screenplays. But I just forged ahead. Also, coming from an informal apprenticeship with Mike De Leon, the bar was set very high. I always felt I wasn’t ready or good enough. Then he went into retirement so I got into advertising.”

Alcazaren thinks that he lost a bit of his edge in advertising from working so long on templates that they had to follow.

“The good side to that was that my craftsmanship was developed well and the meticulous preparation helped me a lot when working on Puti where we had a very ambitious 12-day shoot. Working with my main unit in advertising, we pretty much were always on the same page for the entirety of the shoot,” Alcazaren shared.

He said that he is working on a comic book series, Patay Kung Patay which follows a team of showbiz reporters covering a party of a rich, powerful family in a remote hacienda. “The party is gate crashed by a zombie revolution led by a 12-year-old girl. I started writing it as a script but since I had not financially recovered from Puti, I decided to release it as a comic book. I hired a very talented illustrator AJ Bernardo and a co-writer Noel Pascual who happens to be the co-writer of Mike De Leon’s Citizen Jake. The master plan was for me to find out if there would be an audience for Patay Kung Patay. Since we divided the story into 6 parts, I spoke to my business partners and agreed that we would release the first issue and see what the response would be. It was released in October 2015 at the Komiket. We were one of the top 3 best sellers so we continued and developed a solid fan base and are now on Issue No.5, the second to the last installment. And as I had hoped, there were producers who expressed interest in the comic book because it looked very ‘translatable.’ But of course it still is not as easy to get the right producer and a decent budget. So currently, my writer and I are focusing on tweaking the script. We had just finished an initial draft,” he revealed.

 Playdates of Cine Lokal films in September

Featured on the first week of September was Real Florido’s 1st Ko si 3rd, where new retiree Cory (Nova Villa) bumps into her first love 3rd (Freddie Webb), and looks forward to their “first date.” At 65.

Viewers still have a chance (until tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 14) to catch Puti. 

Sept. 15-21

Starting this Friday, Sept. 15, select SM cinemas will feature Bona Fajardo’s I Found My Heart in Santa Fe. Viktor (Will Devaughn) flies from Germany to Santa Fe, Bantayan Island, Cebu to find the mother he never knew. Within a few hours of his arrival in the island, he meets the lovely but cranky resort manager Jennifer (depicted by his reel and real sweetheart Roxanne Barcelo). This flick  is a visual feast, what with drone shots of the picturesque town of Santa Fe. It also has a pleasing soundtrack.



Sept. 22-28

Starting Friday next week, Sept. 22, it will be the turn of Charliebebs Gohetia’s I Love You. Thank You in the theatres. A synopsis from FDCP says that “Paul (Joross Gamboa) decides to move on from his unrequited love for Red (Prince Stefan). He meets Thai writer Tang (Ae Pattawan) who falls in love with him. Red tries to deal with heartbreak after his boyfriend Ivan (CJ Reyes) leaves him without closure.”  This film was shot in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.


Sept 29-Oct. 5

In Bradley Liew’s debut film Singing in Graveyards, 68-year old impersonator Pepe gets a chance to do the opening act for Filipino rock music legend Joey Smith. But he has to write a something Joey’s never done before: a love song. The movie stars Joey “Pepe” Smith as both Pepe and Joey Smith, with Lav Diaz as his shrewd manager, Mercedes Cabral as his girlfriend, Susan Africa as his ex-wife, and Ely Buendia as his son.


In a forum at the Cinematheque at FDC, Alcazaren, Gohetia and Liew expressed gratitude that their films will finally have commercial runs, would reach a wider audience, and would be guaranteed a one-week run (as opposed to the previous unwritten policy of first-day last-day screening of films that are not patronized by the audience). –