MANILA, Philippines -- This year's Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival will include a tribute to award-winning director Mario O'Hara, who died last Tuesday.
"This year's Cinemalaya will feature a special retrospective on Mario O'Hara," Cinemalaya festival director Chris Millado announced at the press launch of this year's film fest on Thursday, as he praised O'Hara for his work as an actor, director and writer for both screen and stage.
Mario O'Hara and Lolito Rodriguez in a scene from "Tinimbang Ka Nguni't Kulang," which will be screened at Cinemalaya
Millado said some of the titles being considered for the retrospective are "Tubog sa Ginto" and "Tinimbang Ka Nguni't Kulang," which, he said, exemplify O'Hara's work as an actor; "Insiang" and "Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa," which O'Hara wrote; and, to highlight O'Hara's talent as a director, "Ang Babae sa Breakwater" among other titles.
"This will become part of this year's exhibition program," Millado said.
O'Hara is credited for leading the charge of independent filmmakers on the international festival circuit, when the low-budget "Ang Babae sa Breakwater," which he wrote and directed, was accepted at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
"Today Philippine movies are a fixture at Cannes, Venice, and other festivals. This would not have been possible without the ground-breaking work of the quiet, self-effacing Mario O’Hara," cable channel Cinema One said during its tribute to O'Hara last year.
Cinema One is also presenting its own film retrospective for O'Hara on July 9-12 and on July 16-19, according to channel head Ronald Arguelles.
Early indies, docus
Apart from the O'Hara retrospective, this year's Cinemalaya will also have a special section, "Early Indies," devoted to pioneering independent films from Raymond Red and Kidlat Tahimik, among others, which will be curated by veteran filmmaker Nick de Ocampo.
"I am happy to announce that Raymond Red has digitized his early Super 8 films, which will be screened as part of the exhibition," Millado said.
The documentary section, meanwhile, will include Michael Collins' "Give Up Tomorrow," which won the Heineken Audience Award winner at the last year's Tribeca Film Festival. The film tells the story of Paco Larrañaga, who was arrested in 1997 for the kidnap, rape and murder of two sisters in Cebu.
Another foreign documentary, which will be screened at Cinemalaya, is “Dance Of My Life,” which traces the life of Brazil’s Filipino Carnival Queen Bessie Badilla from her childhood in the Philippines to her years as a supermodel in Paris, and her battle with cancer.
There will also be an exhibit of rare and vintage movie advertising from the collection of art patron Danny Dolor.
Millado also announced an "education component" to this year's indie film fest, which includes the Made in the Philippines 2012 Film, Animation and Gaming Congress, which will be led by Ralph Guggenheim of Pixar Animation Studios, who produced "Toy Story."
There is also the 2012 Manila Film Financing Forum, a business meeting to look for practical solutions to film financing and distribution.
"It will also include our international festival programmers to engage in a dialogue with our filmmakers to look at the life of their films after the cinemalaya festival," Millado said.
Finally, the Cinemalaya 2012 Independent Film Congress will be participated in by members of the media, the academe and film practitioners "to engage in a spirited dialogue on the dynamic interaction between the independent and mainstream cinemas," he said.
A total of 25 new digital films will compete at this year's Cinemalaya, which will be held not only at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, but also at the Greenbelt and Trinoma cinemas.
"The addition of Trinoma as a third major venue for the festival is part of the vision of Cinemalaya organizers to make the festival more accessible to the growing number of audiences that attend Cinemalaya," the organizers said in a statement.
Last year's Cinemalaya entries have won in both local and international film festivals, Millado noted, "exemplifying the remarkable achievements of Cinemalaya and its brood of directors, producers, actors and filmmakers."
He cited "Nino" by Loy Arcenas, which won best film at the Busan International Film Festival and the best supporting actress trophy at the Asian Film Awards for Shamaine Buencamino.
"Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank" won the People's Choice Award for best actress at the Asian Film Awards for its star Eugene Domingo, while "Bahay Bata" garnered a citation at the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Best First-Time Director award at the Las Palmas Film Festival for Eduardo Roy Jr.
"Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa" dominated the recent Gawad Urian Awards, winning seven awards including best film.
"This year's Cinemalaya takes the impetus from these achievements and goes full force in this year's programming," Millado said.
"After eight years of producing and presenting excellent and engaging films, the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is the leader among the indie film festivals and has inspired the creation of other festivals that encourage new voice and new ways of telling stories. Cinemalaya has left an indelible mark in the landscape of Philippine cinema and continues to do so year after year.
"Cinemalaya is unstoppable. It has taken wing," he said.
This year's Cinemalaya will run from July 20-29.