After months of construction and conceptualization, alternative movie theater Cinema Centenario is now open to the public. It joins Cinema ’76 Film Society and Black Maria Cinema in showing independent and alternative films.
The brainchild of filmmaker Hector Barretto Calma, Centenario stands as a “small contribution to the celebration of 100 years of Philippine cinema.”
“Marami na kasing gumagawa ng events to celebrate the centennial of Philippine cinema, not an actual movie theater na magiging landmark. At least with Centenario, may matatandaang cinema na pinanganak,” says Calma. Here’s what to expect at the newest micro-cinema.
Maginhawa Film Festival
Centenario’s starting big. As part of their kick-off this month, the team behind the cinema is organizing Maginhawa Film Festival.
As this falls under the same month as the Metro Manila Film Festival, Calma says this is sort of their statement against the management of the renowned festival. “We’re not competing in terms of lineup. It’s just that these films (alternative and independent) are what we want to watch. These are the films that need to be given a chance.
“Hindi dapat pigilan ng kung sino man na magkaroon ng ibang choice ang mga tao sa dapat nilang mapanood. So heto ang Centenario para magprovide ng iba pang dapat mapanood,” says Calma.
There are no specific details about the Maginhawa Film Festival yet, but prepare for all-day screenings of full-length and short films, documentaries, and restored classics of all genres, forms, and themes.
Partnership with ABS-CBN Film Restoration
The Centenario team is collaborating with ABS-CBN Film Restoration to pay homage to the now-forgotten classic oeuvres. “What better way to celebrate the centennial of the Philippine cinema than to showcase restored classics, right?” says Calma.
Extended operating hours
Centenario opens at 9 a.m. for ticket-selling and closes at 2 a.m. for now. The last full show may extend until 4 a.m soon. These long operating hours include six screenings a day. “We want to explore the idea of late night screenings especially in this neighborhood. Alam naman natin ang crowd ng Maginhawa, inaabot ng umaga sa inom at kain. What more kung manonood ng movies?” says Calma.
Film lectures and workshops
There will be lectures and workshops about film at Centenario from time to time. Organizations and universities can partner with them, too, as their space is open for rentals.
Filmmaker of the month
The team also plans to have a monthly ‘Filmmaker in Focus’ in which they feature two films of the chosen filmmaker. Unlike bigger cinemas, there would be no “first day, last day” in Centenario, which means no matter what the turnout for the films, they won’t pull them out. “Basta pinrogram ka namin during those days, sure na hindi ka namin tatanggalin—tutulungan ka namin,” says Calma.
This is obviously a passion project of Calma and the filmmakers and producers included in his team. They aim to make a difference in film distribution, especially of the local independent ones that have garnered countless recognition everywhere except in our country.
“Maraming pelikula pero walang lugar kung saan ipapalabas. Walang faith ‘yung mga malalaking sinehan na papatok ito, or kung bigyan man ng chance na ipalabas sila, madali lang i-pullout,” says Calma.
And this is why alternative cinemas like Centenario are here. We can only hope that they multiply in the metro, make their sentiments deafening, and finally be heard.
Photos courtesy of Joseph Maquirang