This year, the film festival also puts a spotlight on gender and diversity
For more than a decade, Cinema Rehiyon has been defined by its location(s), pertaining not only to the space where it holds its events but also the places where its independent film entries came from. This year, the 13th edition of the film festival takes a leap by going digital.
A flagship project of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ National Committee on Cinema (NCCA-NCC), Cinema Rehiyon is a non-competition film festival that complements the filmmaking frontiers of the various regions of the Philippines, outside Metro Manila. Although it will not be mounted the way it had been for more than a decade, its digital adaptation is seen as more than just a precaution in light of the pandemic but a chance to go global.
“It will be an online edition. No geographical and social boundaries,” says festival director Tito Valiente. “The new version will free Cinema Rehiyon from many limitations. The limitations of labels. The limitations of being defined by Manila. The limitations of gender and traditions.”
Stories about diversity
Apart from it going online, another thing that is new to this year’s festival is its “Babayi, Babaylan” program, featuring stories relating to women and the LGBTQIA+ community. It is not new for films depicting diversity to be shown on the festival, but with many stories about gender equality coming from marginalized communities, it is just right for the festival to give it a program of its own and dig deeper on these kinds of stories from different regions.
The “Babayi, Babaylan” has six sub-programs that dabble on topics like love, religion, abuse, and other issues women and the LGBTQIA+ people face today. The sections are “Muslimah,” “Lezlove Rising,” “Boy’s Love Redux,” “Babay,” “Babaylan,” and “Me Too.”
“There are works that are explicitly about gender and there are works that are not. The ‘Babayi, Babaylan’ program mixes the two together in six sub-programs to invite the audience as well as the filmmakers themselves to reflect on the many ways of seeing gender,” says filmmaker and curator of the program Adjani Arumpac. “In an era where categorization is very much contested, this program asks us to look again on these categories through a non-binary lens.”
Raising the flag for every region
“One of the manifestos of Cinema Rehiyon is its assertion of identity of the regions,” says Valiente. This is best shown through the “Best of Cinema from the Regions: The Role of Regional Filmmakers in Troubling Time.” The program highlights films presenting the role of visual storytellers in a time of crisis.
Just like “Babayi, Babaylan,” the “Best of Cinema from the Region” is broken down into sub-programs, tackling island life, forgotten memories, isolation, and more. The sub-programs are “Longing, Forgotten Memories;” “Hear the Island Speak and Be Ready for Anything;” “The Languages of Isolation;” “Dear Depth, Love, Awakening;” “The Specter of Empire;” “Escaping Questions/Evading Answers;” “The Clothes We are Wearing from a Certain Distance;” “Welcome to the Age of Precariousness;” “Crossroads of Consequences;” “Astro-Lumina;” “Beware the Dusk;” “Edge of Eclipse;” and “We Never Say Goodbye to Hope.”
“The pandemic is the time where regional filmmakers should be highlighted,” says the curator of the program, former NCC member Elvert Bañares. “Cinema is about hope. Because, I think, without hope, it will be very impossible for us to move on. That kind of hope is exemplified and told through the stories of our regional filmmakers.”
Creating more conversations
Apart from the hundred of films, full and short features, hitting the Vimeo account of Cinema Rehiyon, movie enthusiasts can also participate in masterclasses and seminars online, which are also for free.
They can join in the conversation about “LGBTQIA+ in Philippines Cinema Now: Where is the love?” (March 28), “Who has the right to imagine the regions” (March 29), and “Cinema, Cure, COVID: How do we go from Here” (March 30), all happening on Cinema Rehiyon’s Facebook page at 2 p.m.