Sinag Maynila 2016 Finalists

I am a fan of Sinag Maynila. (Too bad, I didn’t finish reviewing all the films. Sorry.) It’s a film festival that doesn’t try to impress, or at least please, everyone. Each film spoke different realities in different languages to a somehow universal indie-following audience. The fact that it only had five entries meant that the qualification process was more rigorous than a certain commercialized film festival in December.

I found out from the Sinag Maynila FB page that the 2016 finalists have been announced. Notably, all have one word titles. Here are the five relevant films to watch out for next year along with some of my thoughts based on their short descriptions:

Sinag Maynila 2015 Finalists
Sinag Maynila 2016 Finalists

1. “DYAMPER” by Mes de Guzman

Apeng, Poknat, and Tinoy are “dyampers” on the lookout to steal from rice trucks as they meander along the treacherous winding roads of Dalton Pass. In one of their encounters, they accidentally discover a pack of illegal substances which will lead them to the biggest mission of their lives.

I love how Sinag Maynila entries take us to places we have never been to or part of the country where you wouldn’t know to be fit for cinematography, just like last year’s Bambanti. Dyamper will be shot in the Dalton Pass that connects Nueva Ecija and Nueva Viscaya. I can only imagine how difficult the production will be. The things we do for cinematic metaphors. I’m also guessing that the three leads are children or boys in their adolescence judging by their names. Can’t wait to see how this will turn out!

2. “EXPRESSWAY” by Ato Bautista

Old-timer Ben needs to do one last assignment before the syndicate boss he works for grants him his much delayed retirement. Assigned to be his partner is neophyte Morris, yearning to prove his worth. This last trip will turn out to be a journey of introspection, self-healing, and redemption.

Is it just me or does the synopsis sound similar to On The Job? The nature of the syndicate is not specified but I do hope it isn’t drugs. Whatever it is, I’m sure the story will be attacked differently.

3. “LILA” by Gino M. Santos

To escape a past that threatens to consume her, a young woman decides to move into a house owned by a warm-hearted landlady, looking for a fresh start and a chance for atonement. The house, however, has other ideas.

I smell a horror flick! This is a first in Sinag Maynila. I’m so excited! I’m just not a fan of film titles with a person’s name. In the long run, films with names tend to become forgettable (except for Bona of course). Well, that’s just me.

4. “MRS.” by Adolf Alix Jr.

70-year old Virginia lives in a bungalow house that stands on an earthquake fault area. When her ever-loyal maid Delia tells her she’d be leaving for good, what follows shows a portrait of a woman and a mother trying to juggle the sad realities of life.

This is very relevant, especially after Metro Manila underwent an earthquake drill recently. Hopefully, people will still recall it next year when the films are shown. Anyway, the premise of the film is very promising and I expect this to be nostalgic and heart-warming. I absolutely love old lady characters. Just don’t kill Virginia please. I will cry for sure!

5. “TPO (Temporary Protection Order)” by Joselito Altarejos

Teresa, an abused wife, attempts to secure her freedom by filing a Temporary Protection Order against her abusive husband only to be caught in the battered system of bureaucracy filled with neglect and indifference.

I’ve always wondered how a TPO helps in actually protecting the victim. I mean, it’s just a piece of paper. If someone wants to get near you, he can do so, unless detected and properly apprehended. In the country, bluntly speaking, I doubt that a TPO can do anything . This could be a big eye-opener for the government. How do we really protect the abused? Do we make it easy for them? Or is this another case of process paralysis?

We have to sit and wait a few more months to see how this new batch of films will deliver. Moreover, I can’t wait to find out which actors will be tapped to play the lead and supporting roles. Sinag 2015 did very well and I hope 2016 will be even more impactful and unconventional.

Are you looking forward to the Sinag Maynila 2016 Film Festival? Which film is your early favorite among the Sinag Maynila 2016 finalists? Sound off in the comments below.

The #SinagMaynila Experience Part 1

When I first saw the teasers of Sinag Maynila last year, I thought that it was just one of those movie festivals that would come and eventually would go. To add, I hated disliked the teasers. They portrayed the most common themes in the independent movie industry (and in black and white too). Women crying. Children being wrongfully accused of theft. You know the drill. The scenes were just a bit over-the-top for my taste. However, whatever my first impression was, I was proven wrong. After watching the five films claimed to be “significant”, I laughed and cried. I was moved and inspired. I was changed. I was a different person each time I went out of the movie theater.


More than a week ago,  the first Sinag Maynila Film Festival was launched. Knowing that it only showed five movies and that internationally acclaimed film director Brillante Mendoza served as a the festival director, my inner indie film fanatic curiosity was switched on. I ran to the nearest mall after work (SM Aura) and to my surprise, the gala screening for three of the films were going to be held there. I literally ran to the ticket booth. There, I saw a familiar face. It was Junjun Quintana (Quick Change, A Philippino Story)! Junjun originally played the role of Rodel in the play version of the Virgin Lab Fest entry with the same title. I wanted to take a picture with him but he disappeared before I could gather the courage to do it. After buying tickets for Balut Country and Imbisibol, I went to the food court area and there he was, just sitting with other indie film people. I was too shy to directly approach him there and there so I did something ridiculous and a little stalkery-ish. I sat on the bench adjacent to where he was sitting. So we were sitting back to back. I could hear them talking but I wasn’t listening of course. My mind was too busy rehearsing how I would ask him for a photo.


Continue reading “The #SinagMaynila Experience Part 1”