Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Three years ago, Quezon City launched its first independent film festival, QCinema, as a platform for young and emerging filmmakers and, according to Mayor Herbert Bautista, to establish the city as a film capital like Bangkok and Hong Kong. The festival opened with three competition films, awarded with ₱500,000 post-production grants each. Over the years, it has expanded into a sprawling international film festival, not only producing some of the most memorable Filipino films in recent years, but opening its slate to Philippine premieres of international films from prestigious film festivals around the world such as Cannes, Locarno, and Berlin.
This year, the lineup includes diverse picks from around the world and a new competition program, “Asian New Wave,” featuring films from young filmmakers around the region.
The main competition slate features seven films from Filipino directors:
- Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B by Prime Cruz stars Ryza Cenon and Martin Del Rosario. The film is about a manananggal who falls in love with a brokenhearted boy.
- Baboy Halas: Wailings in the Forest by Davao-based filmmaker Bagane Fiola features a Mindanaoan cast. It tackles the life of one of the last old Manobo families in the mountains of Mindanao and how they cope with some unusual changes in their environment.
- Best. Partee. Ever. by first-time filmmaker Howard “HF” Yambao stars JC De Vera as a discreet gay man who spends five years in jail for drug pushing.
- Hinulid by Kristian Sendon Cordero stars Nora Aunor as a woman who returns home in Cagbunga, Camarines Sur to bury her son in their village that is watched over by the Tolong Hinulid (Three Dead Christs). The cast is all Bikol.
- Patay na si Hesus by Victor Kaiba Villanueva is a Cebuano comedy-drama which stars Jaclyn Jose as Isay, a single mother of a dysfunctional family who learns that her ex-husband, Hesus, has died.
- Purgatoryo by Roderick Cabrido is about the death of Ilyong who is killed by the police after he was caught stealing. This sets a chain of events involving the complex relationship of gambling lord, a policeman, a funeral parlor owner, and her two helpers. The film stars Bernardo Bernardo and Arnold Reyes.
- Women of the Weeping River by Sheron Dayoc is about Satra, a widow living in Southern Mindanao who befriends an aging woman in the village to help her hold peace talks with a rival family.
The short film competition has eight entries:
- Hondo by Aedrian Araojo
- If You Leave by Eduardo Dayao
- Kung Saan May Naiwan by Joshua Joven and Kaj Palanca
- Nang Lumipad ang Batang Agila by Mihk Vergara
- Padating by Gabrielle Tayag
- Papa’s Shadow by Inshallah Montero
- Sayaw sa Butal by Victor Nierva
- Viva Viva Escolta by Janus Victoria
The new competition program “Asian Next Wave” features six entries from filmmakers from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
Aside from the competition films, the festival is also screening acclaimed films from international film festivals such as Ken Loach’s Palme D’Or winner I, Daniel Blake, João Pedro Rodrigues’s Locarno winner, The Ornithologist, and the animated film companion to Train to Busan, Seoul Station. Park Chan-wook’s Cannes shocker, The Handmaiden opens the film festival.A focus on acclaimed director Mike De Leon will feature his restored classics, Kakabakaba Ka Ba?, Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising, and Hindi Nahahati ng Langit. Newly restored films Laurice Guillen’s Kasal? (1980) and Butch Perez’s Haplos (1982) will also premiere.
A screening of the Three Colors trilogy, Red, White, and Blue, will also be held on the 20th death anniversary of the Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieślowski.
The QCinema International Film Festival will be held on October 13 to 22.
*Featured image: Nora Aunor stars in Kristian Sendon Cordero’s Hinulid, a Circle Competition entry in this year’s QCinema International Film Festival. (Photo credit Hinulid Facebook page)