The documentary section is one of Cinemalaya’s strongest points this year

Published August 13, 2021, 5:00 PM

by Aaron Cabeza

Thanks to celebrated filmmaker and documentarist Dr. Clodualdo Del Mundo’s curation

Filipinos make the best documentaries. Pinoy-made documentaries are some of the most substantial, informative, and well-made programs in Philippine cinema and television. This has become more apparent now amid the pandemic. Balikbayan: From Victims to Survivors, a film about the Filipino youth’s strength and resilience, for instance, is currently featured at the Regina International Film Festival in Canada. Filipino-Canadian Jon Jon Rivero documents how trauma workshops aid in the rehabilitation of kids.

The 17th installment of Cinemalaya is ongoing. Five award-winning docu-films have been chosen by acclaimed screenwriter and director Dr. Clodualdo “Doy” Del Mundo for the Dokyu section. The indie film festival can be streamed on until Sept. 5. Tickets are priced at ₱150. Here is a sneak peek of the five docus.

A House in Pieces by Jean Claire Dy and Manuel Domes

In 2017, a war between the government and ISIS-affiliated jihadists forced hundreds of thousands to flee from Marawi, Philippines. Post-battle, residents struggle to rebuild their homes and lives in the devastated city. The movie accompanies its protagonists for two years through fear, worry, and hope toward their journey for new life.

The Golden Hercules Award from the Kasseler Dokfest in Germany in 2020 has been conferred on the documentary, which also won a grant from the DMZ International Documentary Film Festival where it screened last year. The film has been screened in other international and local festivals.

Yugto by Joanna Reyes, Cristy Linga, and Ja Turla

The short documentary presents the lives of Filipinos during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shot by many at the onset of the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in the Philippines, it delves into their struggles, hopes, and transformations.

‘By showing hunger, deprivation, starvation, and brutality, as well as endurance and nobility, documentaries inform, prod our memories, even stir us to action. Such films do battle for our very soul.’— Theodore Bikel

Paraisong Bacao by Adrian

The film follows the story of Rafael, a 14-year-old Aeta who lives in a mountainous area that he considers paradise. Even at a young age, he realizes how hard their life situation is. Sitio Bacao in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija was chosen as a resettlement community for more than 1,000 families affected by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991.

Last Days at Sea by Venice Atienza

Reyboy lives in Karihatag, an isolated fishing village in the south of the Philippines, where every boy grows up to become a fisherman. At the first sign of rainfall during the turn of seasons, however, the 12-year-old boy is set to leave the city to pursue his studies. While the fishermen of Karihatag risk their lives as the yearly storms become increasingly dangerous due to climate change, Reyboy’s goodbye to the only life he has ever known becomes imminent.

Masterpiece by Januar Yap and Kristoffer Villarino

Inspired by the ceiling paintings of the old churches in Cebu and abroad like the Sistine Chapel, a parish priest in Bantayan Island embarks on his own ceiling painting project of epic proportions with the help of a ragtag army of artists on an evangelical mission through visual catechism.

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