•  On its seventh year, Cinemalaya has proven once and for all that it is indeed the only true Filipino film festival.

    Although the screenings are still limited to the premises of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and two theaters in Greenbelt, the audiences who fill the venues in each showing manifest astounding growth in numbers.  Perhaps more than the honors reaped by independent films in the annual award derbies, Cinemalaya gives chance for the public to actually screen these gems and see the directions being taken by the emergent Filipino cinema.

    And this year's crop of entries in the Short Features, New Breed and Directors' Showcase has not only provided variety but revealed the complex mind of the Filipino filmmaker as he shapes as well as reacts to the world around him.

    A satirical comedy like Chris Martinez and Marlon Rivera's "Ang Babae sa Septic Tank" or an upbeat, slick and scathing commentary on contemporary mores like Erick Salud's "Ligo na U, Lapit na Me" are proof

    Read More »from Best of the 7th Cinemalaya
  • Performers during the opening rites of the 7th Cinemalaya Film Festival (Marlo Cueto, NPPA Images)Performers during the opening rites of the 7th Cinemalaya Film Festival (Marlo Cueto, NPPA Images)The finale of the "Harry Potter" movies grossed a total of P155M for its first weekend showing. This left local mainstream productions that opened that same weekend literally pulverized at the box office. Many laughed and said that it was a ridiculous battle --- not even a David fighting a Goliath but more like an ant challenging a herd of elephants.

    But what was even all the more interesting was on that same weekend Cinemalaya 7 opened at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and was drawing record crowds.  Despite the juggernaut of diehard fans and cult followers of wizards and special effects, the humble productions of the independent cinema of the country enticed audiences of astounding numbers to flock all the way to Roxas Boulevard, line up for hours and devour the wide array of film offerings the program had on its menu this year.

    Of course there will be those who will say that there is a select crowd for indie movies.  There are even those who mistake indies for pink cinema

    Read More »from The Cinema of the Free
  • Yeng Constantino: Hope for OPM? (Jerome Ascano, NPPA Images)Yeng Constantino: Hope for OPM? (Jerome Ascano, NPPA Images)This is crazy.  For the past few days a melody has been relentlessly buzzing in my head. And all because I caught the music video on MYX and ended up looking for it on YouTube.  Now I am fixated on images of Yeng Constantino, Kean Cipriano and 6 Cyclemind partying to the tune of "Kung Wala Na Nga."  A bad case of the Last Song Syndrome.

    But that's all right.  This is a marked improvement from "Teenage Dream" that was looped in my medulla oblongata for the longest time, playing the same bridge over and over and over again ("Let's go all the way tonight … No regrets, just love …:").  I am happy that I am fixated to a local song … something that has not happened since I kept playing Kamikazee's "Narda" over and over and over again.  And how many years ago was that?

    Which brings me to the whole point of this exercise: we are not fixating on local songs because there aren't all that many going around any more. Look, I am not even going to consider cover versions because … uhm,  I personally

    Read More »from Last Song Syndrome
  • The ANC interview that sparked a maelstrom (ANC video grab)The ANC interview that sparked a maelstrom (ANC video grab)A neophyte filmmaker cracked a badly-timed joke while being interviewed in television -- and all hell broke loose.

    Suddenly the internet was ablaze with expressions of shock and indignation.  How could this upstart be so callous, insensitive and brazen in delivering such condescending statements with his cono boy demeanor?

    After all, to say that indie filmmakers preferred actors from the legitimate stage because they could be fed crackers and cat food without complaint while crying on cue --- was not only be demeaning but downright insulting.

    How he said it

    But wait: the problem was not really with what he said --- but how he said it. After reviewing the clip posted on YouTube and replicated on various pages of Facebook, one could see where he was really coming from and what the young man was trying to do.

    Yes, it was a left-handed complement.  What he really wanted to say was that theater actors do not pose the same quirky diva behavior as some mainstream performers whose pag-iinarte

    Read More »from Of Skyflakes and catfood
  • "Honestly, just how do you guys think you can survive this?"

    That was the comment given by one of my friends as we stood by the overcrowded lobby of a cineplex in a popular mall in the Metro.  A kilometric queue twists and turns leading to the windows that sell tickets to the movies showing. Out of eight movie houses, only one is relegated to a Filipino commercial film. One of the four cinemas assigned to the biggest blockbuster opening for that week offers the feature on 3D costing P300.00 per ticket.

    "Do Filipino producers still believe that they can compete with Hollywood blockbusters considering the audience pays the same amount for a seat? Considering that the Hollywood films do not only look better and bigger but also have state-of-the-art visual effects and sound technology, do you guys still think you stand a chance?"

    I said that once in a while we still hit the jackpot.   Chances are high if the movie starred Sarah Geronimo and/or John Lloyd Cruz.   Maybe every December three

    Read More »from The blockbuster juggernaut
  • Xyriel Manabat in '100 Days to Heaven' (Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN)Xyriel Manabat in '100 Days to Heaven' (Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN)There are two very good reasons to be happy for Philippine commercial television.  The first is a triumph of simplicity…and the second is the credit given to raising the benchmark of prime time viewing in terms of production.

    After the audience has somewhat become pre-conditioned or resigned to endless updated versions, adaptations and revivals of old shows and Koreanovelas, two shows have proven themselves to be such outstanding surprises.  No, they are not marvels of innovation but still what is important is that they prove to be fresh in the eyes and mind of the television viewer as well as a welcome proof of an effort to improve quality in production.

    "100 Days to Heaven" has nothing earthshaking about it.  Right from the start, you already know how this series will end.  The journey of a soul sent back to earth to find redemption has been done a dozen times over.  But that does not mean that it cannot be executed with a sense of newness.  It is the simplicity and predictability of

    Read More »from Good news on TV

  • Photo by NPPANow that the dust has settled, we can talk about this with a greater sense of perspective and much less emotional overload.

    It has been barely two months since the uproar about Jan-Jan Suan's dance on primetime television literally split the country into two camps. But then the MTRCB has passed judgment, the show (with its new title) is back on air with the same hip-hip-hooray atmosphere--and all the talk about child exploitation has become abstract, theoretical and a footnote to more current and pressing issues.

    Revillame's guilt in exploiting that child has become moot and academic. But what industry insiders know is that if exploitation of minors in media should be the crusade for some very concerned citizens of the Republic, then perhaps they should look much further than Jan-Jan's terpsichorean display.

    It is much easier to throw in everything including the kitchen sink against Revillame cajoling the eight-year-old boy to do the "Body Wave" than to examine the treatment received

    Read More »from Bless the beasts and the children
  •  People in the industry are so saddened to hear about what has become of one of its brightest members of the community.

    After years of sparkling as one of the most brilliant lights to illuminate an overcrowded heaven, this star has plunged into depression, cut off everybody around her and gone astray.  Whereas before the mere inclusion of that name brought in the crowds to queue at the box office, now the star has been relegated to pop history, viewed in retrospect with amusement in CinemaOne and other all-Filipino cable channels.

    The name is recognizable but no longer marketable.  The movie producers have all shied away (because they prefer the much younger stars in their stable of talents).  The television offers have disappeared.  And even the endorsements are few and far in between.

    Life span

    But there is nothing neither phenomenal nor extraordinary about that.  Everyone in show business is aware that there is a life span to such a career -- especially if one works in front of the

    Read More »from Starlight, star bright
  • Frenzy in the Pinoy living room after Pacquiao wins over Mosley. (AP Photo)Frenzy in the Pinoy living room after Pacquiao wins over Mosley. (AP Photo)Whether we would admit it or not, we all have our guilty pleasures.  One of them is the insatiable appetite for showbiz or society gossip.  This is one preoccupation that seems to have defied age, educational background or socio-economic class.  We all love to play with the dung and scrutinize the garbage from our neighbor's bin.  We love to idolize chosen personalities, practically turn them into demigods … then take equal pleasure in watching them crash and fall.

    How many of us shrugged off the whole idea of the recently mounted Royal Wedding and said that the love affair between Wills and Kate has ceased to be of any importance to our daily Third World lives?  Yet how many also remained glued to the TV sets watching the ceremonies, amused by the idiosyncrasies of British nobility and the absurdity in their hats?  How many took special attention waiting for the middle class girl turned Duchess of Cambridge to appear from her limo garbed in what was dubbed as the ultimate wedding

    Read More »from What killed the cat
  • Unwilling TV

    Willie Revillame and Shalani Soledad (Jerome Ascano, NPPA Images)Willie Revillame and Shalani Soledad (Jerome Ascano, NPPA Images)So now what?

    After the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) handed down its 30-day suspension on "Willing Willie" which the agency said was inclusive of the show's voluntary hiatus that started on April 9, Willie Revillame is expected to be back on air on Monday, May 9.  After egos were badly hurt, names were dragged in the muck, name-calling and accusations flew like ping pong balls gone berserk and cases were filed in court, it seems that life will go on. As it should, really.

    Of late, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has filed a child abuse case against the beleaguered host, the parents of Little Dancing Jan Jan has filed cases against a child psychologist and bloggers who allegedly damaged their reputation and gave them sleepless nights … and Willie Revillame will return right into your homes to give you more fun, laughter and a sense of hope that not even the resignation of Merceditas Gutierrez could ever provide.

    But then what?  The

    Read More »from Unwilling TV


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