A screenplay on the return of the Philippine independent film festival
By Poch Eulalia
FADE FROM BLACK
EXTERIOR. CULTURAL CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES (CCP), PASAY CITY – NIGHT.
The building can barely be seen in the heavy downpour of rain. A burst of radiance disrupts the gloom as the sign “Cinemalaya” turns on.
TITLE OVER: Cinemalaya 18 – Philippine Independent Film Festival 2022.
SUBTITLE: Friday, Aug. 5, 6 p.m.
INTERIOR. TAXI CAB.
The rain causes the windows of the cab to fog up. A disgruntled driver is on the wheel trying to maneuver his way through the gridlock. At the back of the vehicle sits a young male (who we shall refer to as Poch) glancing at his watch. He is soaking wet.
A large crowd is building up at the entrance. A band, mostly percussionists, welcomes visitors with festive music.
Good afternoon friends and all film enthusiasts! Cinemalaya is back, live on site after two long years! And what better way to start the celebration than with a red carpet walk?
Director of Leonor Will Never Die (Ang Pagbabalik ng Kwago) Martika Ramirez Escobar, actors John Lloyd Cruz, Sheila Francisco, Ina Feleo, and other stars, directors, producers, and crew members from various Cinemalaya entries walk down a staircase covered by a red carpet. The crowd applauds everyone who descends.
INT. TAXI CAB.
Poch looks nervously outside the cab’s window on the heavily flooded road. To distract himself, he gets his phone, scrolls through his emails, and reads one silently.
PHONE SCREEN WITH EMAIL.
…11 full-length films competing for Balanghai trophies are as follows: Angkas by Rainero C. Yamson II, Bakit ‘Di Mo Sabihin? by Real S. Florido, Batsoy by Ronald Espinosa Batallones, Blue Room by Ma-an L. Ascuncion-Dagñalan, Bula sa Langit by Sheenly Gener, Ginhawa by Christian Paolo Lat, Kaluskos by Roman S. Perez Jr., Kargo by TM Malones, Retirada by Milo Alto Paz and Cynthia Cruz-Paz, The Baseball Player by Carlo Obispo, and 12 Weeks by Anna Isabelle Matutina.
INT. TANGHALANG NICANOR ABELARDO (TNA) CCP MAIN THEATER.
TITLE OVER: Leonor Will Never Die (Ang Pagbabalik ng Kwago).
SUBTITLE: Sundance Film Festival Jury Award for Spirit and Innovation.
The crowd enters the theater, film enthusiasts scramble for seats. Lights off. The film, following the story of Leonor Reyes (played by Sheila Francisco), a former bigwig in the Filipino action film industry, begins. After a television set falls on her head bringing her into a coma, she finds herself living out her unfinished screenplay.
EXT. STREETS OF MANILA – NIGHT.
The rain has made the streets impassable in knee-high flood. Poch’s measly umbrella isn’t doing its job. He is stranded, still a few blocks away from the venue. A glance at his watch reveals he has already missed the first hour of the event.
- Poch hops into the flood, gambling that he would land on a shallow surface with each step. He treads through the murky waters, his shoes fully submerged, in a desperate attempt to make it to the event.
- Inside the theater, moviegoers cheer, laugh, and enjoy the screening of Leonor Will Never Die (Ang Pagbabalik ng Kwago).
- Motorists, who dare zoom past Manila’s sunken roads, end up being stranded. Immobile cars crowd the streets disrupting traffic.
Poch arrives at CCP. Another peak at his watch reveals that two hours have gone by.
He runs hurriedly through the halls, passing by the posters of the short-length competition films, such as Roundtrip to Happiness by Claudia Fernando, Mata Kang Busay (Vision of the Falls) by Niño Maldecir and Cypher John Gayorgor, Ampangabat Nin Talakba Ha Likol (It’s Raining Frogs Outside) by Maria Estela Paiso, Kwits by Raz de la Torre, Mga Handum Nga Nasulat Sa Baras (The Dreams That Are Written In On The Sand) by Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay and Richard Jeroui Salvadico, City of Flowers by Xeph Suarez, Si Oddie by Maria Kyudlee Torato, Duwa-Duwa (The Play) by Nena Jane Achacoso, Distance by Dexter Paul de Jesus, Dikit by Gabriela Serrano, See You, George! by Mark Moneda, and Black Rainbow by Zig Dulay. He gets to the booth, grabs his ticket for the film screening, and makes his way to the theater.
Poch enters the theater in time for the film’s final act. Immediately he is drawn in, eyes glued to the screen. Despite missing most of the show, he gets a sense of the emotions and love put into the movie. Goosebumps spring up on the young journalist’s arms and the back of his neck as, along with the entire theater, almost teary-eye, he is swept away by the last scene of the film. While he only sees the end of Leonor Will Never Die (Ang Pagbabalik ng Kwago), he applauds wildly with the crowd. For him, this is the best film to start the Cinemalaya experience. He is sure that more wonders await him at the festival.
The 18th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival have ongoing screenings at the Cultural Center of the Philippines until Aug. 14. Tickets are available at the CCP Box Office, Ticketnet, or SM Tickets. Festival passes can also be purchased through the CCP website: www.culturalcenter.gov.ph