With the variety of subjects, themes, and genres at this year’s Cinema One Originals, it’s clear that Philippine cinema, at its centennial, is thriving and is continuously pushing boundaries.
After all, last year saw the release of an iPhone-shot, vertically oriented film in this very same film festival, as well as Lav Diaz’s nearly four-hour musical film “Ang Panahon ng Halimaw,” which competed in the Berlin International Film Festival.
The demand for quality local films is also evidently stronger, even with younger and wider audiences. Online streaming platforms like iWant and microcinemas like Cinema ’76, Cinema Centenario, and others, meanwhile, make independent films more accessible.
For the 100th year of Philippine Cinema and the 25th anniversary of Cinema One, Cinema One Originals poses a challenge through their tagline: “I Am Original, Kaya Mo?”
Pushing for “originality in all its permutations,” this year’s run covers a variety of films that show just how far Filipino film can go now in terms of theme and representation.
Dir. Victor Villanueva
Premieres Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m., Trinoma
This takes the “dream come true” to a different level. In “Lucid,” Alessandra De Rossi plays a young woman who leads the perfect life she wants in her lucid dreams (a far cry from the “lonely, mundane existence” she has in reality). In her dreams, she meets JM De Guzman, who challenges how she controls her dreams.
Dir. J.E. Tiglao
Premieres Nov. 10, 5 p.m., Trinoma
This film depicts the story of the rarely told experiences of those who are born intersexual. “Metamorphosis” tells the story of Adam, an intersex person raised as a boy, whose first menstrual period sets off his journey into discovering his sexual identity.
Dir. Kevin Dayrit
Premieres Nov. 8, 10 p.m., Trinoma
“O” gives the vampire genre a new spin, making it a “dark” romantic comedy as it centers on vampire “drug” culture, in which a band of the undead run funeral parlors to collect blood, which they in turn process into “red meth.”
Dir. Giancarlo Abrahan
Premieres Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m., Trinoma
This is horror, only in the most millennial kind, because it deals with ghosts. Or rather, ghosting. Sila Sila features an LGBT love/ghosting story, and explores what ghosting does not only to the couple, but to the people around them, especially their friends.
Tayo Muna Habang Hindi Tayo
Dir. Denise O Hara
Premieres Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m., Trinoma
Described as a “love story that comes close but not far enough,” “Tayo Muna Habang Hindi Tayo” looks into how “I love you” may not always be sweet, as it brings out anxieties, uncertainties, and other issues.
Dir. Eve Baswel
Premieres Nov. 9, 5 p.m., Trinoma
Childhood isn’t all rainbows and blue skies, director Eve Baswel’s own experience—and consequently her debut film “Tia Madre”—tells. This horror film, starring Cherie Gil and Jana Agoncillo who play mother and daughter, is told through the child’s eyes as she sees her mother transform into something more terrifying than just strangers—something not human.
Dir. Dustin Celestino
Premieres Nov. 9, 10 p.m., Gateway
Crime noir takes a bit of a fantastical turn in “Utopia,” where a freelance videographer, a rookie police officer, and an undercover agency for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency cross paths right as a comet flies over Manila. The cosmic disturbances turn everything on its head for one night.
Yours Truly, Shirley
Dir. Nigel Santos
Premieres Nov. 10, 9:45 p.m., Trinoma
One of the most anticipated films in the lineup as it marks the big screen return of Regine Velasquez, “Yours Truly, Shirley” explores how people respond to grief and loss. Velasquez plays the lead, Shirley, who, while still mourning over her husband’s untimely death, finds out about a young pop star who she then believes is her husband’s reincarnation.
Aside from the eight feature films, Cinema One Originals will also screen international films like “The Lighthouse,” and “The Two Popes,” as well as local restored classics: Eddie Romero’s “Aguila,” Mario O’Hara’s “Bulaklak sa City Jail,” Abbo De La Cruz’s “Misteryo sa Tuwa,” Peque Gallaga’s “Bad Bananas sa Puting Tabing,” Ishmael Bernal’s “Tisoy,” and Carlitos Siguion-Reyna’s “Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit” and “Saan Ka Man Naroroon.”
The 15th Cinema One Originals runs from Nov. 7 to 17 at Trinoma, Glorietta, Ayala Malls Manila Bay, Gateway, and Power Plant Mall, along with selected screenings at Cinema Centenario, Cinema ’76, Black Maria, UP Cine Adarna, FDCP Cinematheque Manila, Evia Lifestyle, and at Vista Cinemas in Iloilo.
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