Eula Valdes and boyfriend Rocky Salumbides grace Cinemalaya 2013 kick-off at Alabang

Nestor Jardin (leftmost) points out that indie films are "not controlled, so to speak, by the big studios and therefore, the directors get a freehand in expressing the cinematic vision." Mr. Jardin is joined in this photo by Jazz in Love director Baby Ruth Villarama. Also present at the Cinemalaya 2013 kick-off ceremony in Alabang were Rocky Salumbides and Eula Valdes who was accompanied by her daughter Juliana.

As early as now, the organizers of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, are already anticipating next year's festival.

"[It will be held] the first 10 days of August 2014," Nestor Jardin, President of the Cinemalaya Foundation Inc. told (Philippine Entertainment Portal) recently.

This will mark the first time that Cinemalaya will kick-off in August since it has always been celebrated in July since the annual fest started in 2005.

Next year will be the 10th year of Cinemalaya; a celebration of the first decade of the popular festival of independent Filipino films.

"It has always been an 'uphill' trend, in terms of audience volume and gross ticket sales," Jardin proudly stated.

But Jardin also took note of a year when attendance to the Cinemalaya week-long festival slightly declined due to the onslaught of heavy rains or the worst of seasonal typhoons.

Speaking before a modest crowd on the second day of the Cinemalaya Filmfest, last July 27, at the Activity Area of the Alabang Town Center, Jardin positively shared: "We're very happy that we're finally here, at the Alabang Town Center, courtesy of the Ayala Cinemas.

"The Cultural Center of the Philippines is a bit far off, so I'm sure this development is much welcomed by the film enthusiasts, from Alabang and nearby areas."

He added, "We started doing this extension venues two years ago, courtesy of Ayala Cinemas.

"We were able to screen our films at Greenbelt 3 Cinemas in Makati City, two years ago; last year, at the Trinoma Mall Cinemas, and this year, here at the Alabang Town Center.

"Hopefully, in the coming years, we will be adding more Ayala cinemas, even outside of Metro Manila."

FREEHAND TO EXPRESS CINEMATIC VISION. Jardin mentioned: "Cinemalaya is now on its 9th year. We held our first film festival, in 2005, a very modest festival.

"Fortunately, our audiences have grown tremenduously over the years.

"Thanks to the young and new filmmakers who have created the Cinemalaya films that speak of us, and, as uniquely, the experiences of the Filipino people.

"These films are called indie films because they are not controlled, so to speak, by the big studios and therefore, the directors get a freehand in expressing the cinematic vision, through their films."

Jardin noted that the audiences the festival hopes to attract at the new venue could be "the profile of what we have for Cinemalaya audiences—the college students, young professionals, the 'expats,' which is a growing sector of audiences, and, of course, members of the arts and culture sectors."

He continued: "Last year, we had 60,000 audiences and, hopefully, this year it will be much bigger, with the addition of the Alabang Town Center."

On that note, Jardin thanked their partners in presenting the festival: the CCP, the Econolink Investments, headed by Mr. Antonio "Tonyboy" Cojuangco Jr.; the Film Development Council of the Philippines, headed by Mr. Briccio Santos;
the MTRCB with current chairman, Atty. Eugenio "Toto" Villareal; the Cinema Evaluation Board; and the Ayala Cinemas, most especially, the Alabang Town Center management "for hosting and arranging our modest launching today."

Also present at the launch were Ms. Teresita "Tess" Rances, festival coordinator; Ms. Nikki Torres of the CCP Sales and Marketing Department; Mr. Raul Asis, of the CCP Corporate PR Department, and some members of the media.

EULA VALDES AND ROCKY SALUMBIDES. Among the filmmakers who graced the occasion were Baby Ruth Villarama and her film editor-husband, Chuck Gutierrez; and New Breed director Emmanuel "Manny" Palo who introduced his Cinemalaya entry David F.

Two of the film's supporting cast members, real-life partners Eula Valdez and Rocky Salumbides, were also in attendance.

Both shared the excitement of having an entry in this year's indie festival, their first in Cinemalaya.

"Masaya and excited... this is our first Cinemalaya [entry] and we're part of a period film, David F," said Eula of her and Rocky's participation in the Manny Palo-directed movie.

In David F, Eula is cast as a Filipina who married an African-American soldier named David Fagen who fought for Filipinos instead of the Americans during the Philippine-American War.

(To learn more about the competing entries this year, read: PEP Guide to Cinemalaya 2013)

Rocky, on the other hand, wants to be more active in the next months or so. Aside from his appearance in the said entry, the actor has a role in the currently-aired Cassandra, an action series for TV5.

"Tama na ang pagmumuni-muni sa kanya," joked Eula, the ever supportive partner of the actor-model.

At the gala night of David F, last Tuesday, July 30, Rocky and Eula again graced the occasion, with Miguel, Eula's son (with actor Ronnie Quizon) and Juliana, her younger daughter.

Meanwhile, Baby Ruth Villarama's documentary, Jazz In Love, served as the opening film of Cinemalaya. There were screenings held at the CCP on July 26 and at the Alabang Town Center Mall Cinema on July 27.

"It's a documentary about a Filipino [named Jazz] and a German [namedd Theo]; it's an inter-cultural 'gay' love story, so please take some time to see it," she said.

AWARDS NIGHT. This Sunday, August 4, the 9th Cinemalaya Film Festival will have its closing ceremonies, with the much-awaited Cinemalaya Film Fest Awards Night.

It will be held at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

To be given are the Balanghai awards for Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, and Best Performances, among other categories.

The set of awards are divided into two: for the New Breed and Directors' Showcase categories.

A special NETPAC Award is also given in each division: for the Shorts, the New Breed, and Directors Showcase. NETPAC stands for Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema.

According to Tess Rances, Cinemalaya festival coordinator, this year's NETPAC jury is composed Ngo Fhuong Lan, the director-general of the Vietnam Cinema Department; local film directors Clodualdo "Doy" Del Mundo Jr; and Maryo J. delos Reyes.

"For the main competition, we have Peque Gallaga, Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, and two foreign jury members: one from the Vesoul International Film Fest, and Ms. Maggie Lee of Variety [a Hollywood publication]."

Documentary director Ditsi Carolino is also part of the jury while the programmer from Vesoul, France being referred to is Mr. Bastian Meiresonne.

Ms. Rances takes pride in having such prestigious film personalities to be part of this year's Cinemalaya Filmfest Jury.

She said, "Nes [Nestor Jardin, Cinemalaya Festival Director] and Maggie [Lee] met in another festival [abroad] and he brought up the idea.

"She said she's interested to come. And as we were looking for judges, we discussed the possibilities.

"Nes suggested her. We sent her an invitation and she said, 'yes, I'm very interested to come... it's an honor!'

"It's an honor for us, as well," Ms. Rances enthused.

Rances added, "There will be no separate set of judges for the Directors Showcase and New Breed categories."

Contrary to public perception, a local director will head and preside the jury over the foreign members.

"That has always been the case," Rances pointed out.

"Most of our international jury members have always given deference to our local jury members."

In case of split decisions leading to tie awards, the jury head is expected to break the tie.

"He or she presides over the deliberations. But in case of 'unbreakable' ties, the jury members decide for themselves on how to make adjustments."

Last year was an unusual year, wherein four actresses tied as winners in both the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for the film Mga Mumunting Lihim. Written and directed by Jose Javier Reyes, this drama film competed in the Directors Showcase category.

The recipients of the awards, in both categories, were: Judy Ann Santos, Iza Calzado, Agot Isidro, and Janice de Belen.

In this case, said Rances, the Cinemalaya organizing committee saw to it that all four awardees got their Balanghai trophies each.

"We really give each winner the trophy due them. Hindi puwedeng hindi. No, no, no!" Tess Rances stressed.

The Cinemalaya Filmfest also give out special awards by way of post-production grants, which are of big help to the winning filmmaker-producers.

"We always think of what the filmmaker needs. Roadrunner [post-production studio house] has always been supportive of us.

"It's really for the filmmakers. Kaya naku, hindi puwedeng hindi ibibigay!" Rances concluded.






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