By Stephen J. Pedroza
Now on its sixth installment, Cinema Rehiyon, the festival dubbed as “a detour from the mainstream cinema,” sets off in Cagayan de Oro City on February 18-22, under the auspices of Xavier University’s Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts (XCCA).
About a hundred films— produced by students and professional filmmakers— from Baguio, Pampanga, Bacolod, Cebu, Bohol, Sulu, General Santos and Northern Mindanao, among others will be screened at Xavier University Little Theater (XULT) and SM City Cagayan de Oro Cinema 3 and 4.
“Why can’t we tell our own story? Why does it have to be Manila-made?” said Dr Miguel “Mike” Rapatan, chairman of the National Commission on Cinema, as a challenge to independent filmmakers as well as the aspiring ones.
The idea of empowering regional storytellers prompted the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) to craft a specific filmmaking harvest from the regions, promoting local flavors, voices and languages.
Thus, Cinema Rehiyon was born in 2009 and held every February as part of the National Arts Month (NAM) celebration as mandated by Presidential Proclamation 683 of 1991.
“Cinema Rehiyon is a reflection of opportunities for filmmakers; it has been an avenue for people coming from different regions to showcase their works,” added Dr Rapatan, one of the pioneers of the said festival.
This year’s theme, “Filming the Frontiers,” underscores the role of films and of arts, in general, for socio-cultural responsibility and in reflecting social atrocities.
“Cinema Rehiyon 6 features filmmaking frontiers that could give positive impact and transform our lives for the better. These films will educate us about disaster risk reduction management, climate change, cultural solidarity and other societal issues,” said Hobart Savior, XCCA director.
Admission on the screening venues only requires toiletries such as soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, sanitary napkins and infant diapers, which will be donated to the Yolanda-ravaged communities in the Visayas.
Slew of activities and features
A photo exhibit showcasing scenes from the participating films of Cinema Rehiyon 6 will officially open the festival on Feb 18, 5p.m. at SM City Event Center.
A special screening of the critically acclaimed film, “Banaue” by Gerry de Leon will follow at SM City Cinema 3. “Banaue” is a 1975 film about the Igorot tribe and the world-renowned Banaue Rice Terraces, starring Nora Aunor and Christopher de Leon.
For the main event, left-and-right film screenings await the audience.
Mindanao films will dominate the Feb 19 film-showing, Visayas films will be aired on Feb 20 while Luzon films will be shown on Feb 21.
However, those films set in other regions, not from the hometown of the filmmakers, will be showcased in the special program, Crossing Regions.
Cinema Rehiyon 6 also offers a menu of seminars and workshops on acting and filmmaking aside from the heritage tour and a motorcade for the delegates.
Other features of the festival include CineMulat, CineTalakayan, CineBarangay, CineLikha and CineKalye.
CineTalakayan, a forum on filmmaking and cultural responsibilities will transpire on Feb 19, 9a.m. to 12 noon at Pryce Plaza Hotel (for the delegates) and XULT (open to public).
A street flair and motorcade will cap the events of the festival’s second day. Local stars, who portrayed some roles in the participating regional films will be joining the parade, but their names are still to be announced.
Meanwhile, controversial films will dominate in CineMulat on Feb 19-21, 5-7p.m. at XULT.
CineMulat will feature the winners of the 6th Cinemagis Digital Short Film Festival in Northern Mindanao, “Ika-3 Putahi” (Recipe No. 3) by Joeromer Bacus and an experimental film depicting human flesh obsession, “Kaon Ta” (Let’s Eat) by Richard Mars Caberte.
Through CineBarangay, special screenings of inspirational films and animated pictures will be held for a number of communities affected by Typhoon Sendong in 2011.
CineBarangay will tour to Brgy Balulang on Feb 20 and Xavier Ecoville, the XU-led resettlement village in Brgy Lumbia on the next day.
“Part of CineBarangay is giving the communities a multimedia forum on climate change resiliency and disaster risk reduction management,” Savior added.
For those interested on acting in films, Leo Martinez and Rex Cortez will share some insights and tips during the CineLikha seminar-workshop on Feb 20-21, 1:30-5p.m. at XULT.
For the finale of Cinema Rehiyon 6, a re-mastered version of the multi-awarded film, “Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon” by Eddie Romero will be showing at SM City Cinema 3 on Feb 22, 4p.m.
The greatest challenge
In the face of globalization and the advancement of technology, Dr Rapatan and Savior believe that the interest for regional films among Filipinos must be ignited and rekindled.
On top of the concerns of the independent filmmaking industry in the country is how to engage the younger generations to Cinema Rehiyon and the other festivals alike.
“If one can spend money for an escapist, commercial film … why not also watch and appreciate a regional film that has social relevance and talks about our local culture?” Savior shared.
Cinema Rehiyon, after all, is one of the few festivals in the country seeking to educate and empower the Filipino audience with regional stories, pride for local culture and artistic works that exist outside the realm of the capitalistic mainstream cinema.
Dr Rapatan highlighted, “We need to get the word out that our culture— the Filipino culture— is much more complex, much more diverse and richer than those being shown in the commercial films.”