2015 Singkuwento International Film Festival kicks off at NCCA in Intramuros

Singer-actor Jojo Riguerra (left) performed a patriotic song while Andy Bais rendered the invocation hymn.



The opening ceremonies of the inaugural Singkuwento (5Kuwento) International Film Festival (SIFFMP) was marred by certain problems last Saturday, February 21, 2015.

There were delays in program schedules (by about 2 hours from the scheduled 5:30 p.m. opening rites) and several technical glitches in screenings of film entries.

"Super late nag-start ang screening!" said writer-director Jun Lana, who attended the event for the screening of his Mga Kuwentong Barbero (Barber's Tales) which was the opening film of the event.

The SIFFMP was meant as a showcase of award-winning and acclaimed indie full-length films (in exhibition) and as competition venue for locally-produced short films by new filmmakers.

Lana's award-winning film was to be screened, supposedly at 8:30 p.m., after the screenings of Short Films in Competition (Set 4) and two short films (in exhibition) such as: Roberto Reyes Ang's TNT (Tago Ng Tago/Always On The Run) and Nash Ang's Paraiso; and Perry EscaƱo's documentary, Ang Platinong Buhok, about the life and times of the late theater-indie actor and teacher, Amable "Ama" Quiambao.

Several performers from the indie and theater scene performed at the opening rites: character actor Andy Bais rendered the invocation hymn; soprano Emilyn Olfindo-Santos sang "Maalaala Mo Kaya" (as giant poster/ads of classic films were flashed onscreen) while theater actor Jojo Riguerra rendered a patriotic song (from a recently mounted musical) by composer-actor Vincent de Jesus.

The event's host was Jordan Brigala of the SIFFMP. He said in his opening speech that it was the aim of the 5Kuwento International Film Fest to unite Filipinos around the world.

"Layunin po ng Singkuwento Film Festival ang pagbuklurin ang mga Pilipino na narito sa Pilipinas at maging sa mga naroon sa iba't ibang panig ng mundo; maibahagi ang impresyon ng iba't ibang mga Pilipino sa sariling bansa at maging sa kapwa Pilipino."

Brigala added that it was the aim of the festival, "na lumikha ng isang pagtitipon ng magbubuklod ng mga lokal at banyagang manlilikha ng pelikula."

Brigala announced that this year's edition of the Singkuwento IFF features around 50 Filipino filmmakers "na nakiisa sa mahigit isang linggong Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino."

He also said that the films shown at the opening ceremonies "ay naglalayong ihatid ang iba't ibang kuwento ng kalupitan at realidad ng buhay, dito sa Pilipinas at maging sa ibayong dagat."

In particular, Paraiso, by Nash Ang, is a 55-minute docu-feature that follows the lives of children and their families after the onslaught of killer typhoon Yolanda (in November 2013).

The film focused on the sufferings of our fellow Filipinos who were greatly devastated by the calamity and their continued fight for survival.

Brigala also pointed out, "Ipinapakita ng pelikula ang pagbangon ng mga kapwa natin Pilipino, mula sa naging pagkalugmok ng kanilang bayan, bahay at pamilya, na minsa'y kanilang naging 'Paraiso.'"

Competing Shorts and Docu-films shown that night included: Ang Mga Bulong Sa Bituka Ng Sta. Mesa, a 21-minute documentary by Hector Barretto Calma; Int. Kotse. Gabi (7 minutes) by Epoy Deyto; Justlanded (10 mins.) by Paolo Lat; Lupang Pangako (4 mins.) by Juan Carlo Torobal; Nakangising Bato (11 mins.) by Simon Vigan; Mga Eroplanong Papel Sa Tag-Araw Ng Paglimot (14 mins.) by Jaime Habac, Jr.; Mabuhay Ang Pilipinas (17 mins.) by Bor Ocampo; Qng Pangacupas Ning Matingcad Qng Cute (9 mins.) by Jerome Cunanan; and a 2014 Cinemalaya Film Fest Shorts previous winning entry, The Ordinary Things We Do (12 mins.) by David Corpus.

Also shown at the opening rites was the video documentary, Bagong Maynila: Ang Unang Taon, which detailed the accomplishments of the tandem of current Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Vice Mayor Franciso "Isko Moreno" Domagoso Jr.

The Singkuwento Shorts and Documentary Films in Competition are divided into 4 sets, to be shown alternately with select acclaimed indie films including Mes de Guzman's Sitio (2013) and the Nora Aunor-lead starrer, Ang Kwento Ni Mabuti (2013); Brillante Mendoza's Sapi (2013), Francis Xavier Pasion's Bwaya (2014), a top awardee at the Vesoul International Filmfest (France); and Waves, a yet unreleased romance-drama by Don Gerardo Frasco, featuring Baron Geisler and Polish-American model-actress Ilona Struzik.

The Board of Jurors of this year's Singkuwento Film Festival is chaired by filmmaker Roberto Reyes Ang (TNT), with members composed of Sigrid Andrea Bernardo (Ang Huling Cha Cha Ni Anita, Lorna) and two-time Ani Ng Dangal recipient Will Fredo (Compound), producer and resident director of Hubo Asia.

The 2nd Singkuwento International Film Festival ends on Saturday, February 28, to be followed by awarding ceremonies scheduled at 8 p.m.

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