Baguio City

Lights, camera, connection: Baguio unveils 4th Montañosa film fest

Mia Magdalena Fokno

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Lights, camera, connection: Baguio unveils 4th Montañosa film fest

UNITE. Mentors and filmmakers unite, shaping the future of cinema through guidance and collaboration in Baguio..

courtesy of MFF

The Montañosa Film Festival boasts an exciting lineup across narrative, documentaries, mobile phone films, and the newly introduced animation and children’s films categories

BAGUIO, Philippines – Baguio, known for its vibrant culture and arts, unveiled the fourth iteration of the Montañosa Film Festival (MFF) at the Grand Sierra Pines on Sunday, March 10.

The film festival, themed “Building bridges beyond boundaries,” has focused on the power of film to connect diverse cultures and communities.

MFF 2024 boasts an exciting lineup across narrative, documentaries, mobile phone films, and the newly introduced animation and children’s films categories. 

Twenty-four finalists were chosen for their unique perspectives, undergoing mentorship from Harlene Bautista, Paolo Villaluna, Jade Castro, Jet Leyco, Ditsi Carolino, Nico Hernandez, Arjanmar Rebeta, Tristan Cua, and Arvin Belarmino.

The opening gala set for March 16 will feature Tanabata’s Wife, a poignant narrative that sets the tone for a festival committed to showcasing compelling stories. 

Collaborations with the Film Development Council of the Philippines and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) promise to enrich the festival experience through Film Talks, CCP’s outreach programs, and public screenings designed to ignite passion for local cinema.

Highlights of MFF 2024 include SineMusiKain, a fusion of film, music, and culinary arts; Sine Ibayo, an international film showcase; and SineSindak, a horror-themed night at the Diplomat Hotel. 

There will also be a series of free public screenings like the MFF Best of the Best, and the Cordillera School of Digital Arts’ (CSDA) Anima sa Montanosa at the Baguio Convention and Cultural Center Basement, Error 404 film premiere by Take One at Vivistop Baguio, and the most awaited MFF 2024 films in-competition public screenings at the SM City Baguio.

The festival’s culmination will see awards presented to outstanding filmmakers by a jury comprising Pepe Diokno, Ryan Cayabyab, Joyce Bernal, Zig Dulay, and Dingdong Dantes. 

The festival will conclude with the 2nd Baguio Folk Music Festival on March 24 at the Rose Garden, celebrating the region’s musical talents and cultural heritage.

Ferdinand John Balanag, MFF director and founder, alongside Baguio City Tourism Officer Aloysius Mapalo, Creative Council Director Rene Misa, and lead festival organizer Raymond Sakiwat introduced an array of activities designed to foster international cultural exchanges.

“This year’s MFF aims to transcend physical and cultural barriers, inviting audiences to explore diverse narratives from around the globe,” said Balanag.

The MFF’s vision resonates with Kidlat Tahimik, a national artist for film, who reflected on the evolution of Filipino cinema: “Decades ago, we were talking about making truly Filipino films… Now, we’re amplifying the voices of our local storytellers through Montañosa… I expect to see Montañosa outlive Cannes and Berlin.”

Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who welcomed participants, said the festival serves as a platform for local filmmakers to enrich Baguio’s cultural identity. 

“Their work reflects the stories, and landscapes of our beloved city, adding depth and richness to our cultural identity,” Magalong said. –

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