Stories worth watching. Movies worth celebrating. As far as the CineFilipino Film Festival is concerned, both are rooted on screenplays worth funding.
During its press launch Friday at the Ali Mall Cinema 1, the new film festival announced its mission “to seek out, support, and develop new cinematic works of artistic merit by up-and-coming and established filmmakers that helped define the human experience through a Filipino perspective.”
“Unlike other film festivals, we are offering a higher grant of P1.5 million seed money to eight deserving screenplays. That should be enough to complete a film depending on the concept,” said Vincent “Ting” Nebrida, CineFilipino filmfest director.
Nebrida is an experienced producer with Unitel Productions. He was the executive producer of Mark Meilly’s “Crying Ladies” and the writer and producer of “American Adobo”, which was directed by Laurice Guillen.
Guillen is the festival director of the highly successful Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, which concluded its eight year last month and with which CineFilipino will inevitably be compared.
Nebrida said that the CineFilipino, a project of the PLDT Smart Foundation in association with MediaQuest, Studio 5 and Unitel Productions, is scheduled to take place on March 13 to 19 at the Gateway Cineplex and Ali Mall Cinemas at the Araneta Center and the Newport Cinemas at Resorts World.
The festival will have full-length and short film categories. Nebrida, however, is quick to point out that only the full-length features will be entitled to the P1.5 million grant.
The competition will be open to veteran and new filmmakers and screenwriters who have until October 8 to submit finished screenplays. For the complete rules and mechanics, go to the official website here.
The eight selected grantees will be announced on November 8, the qualifying filmmakers have more than three months to complete their digital films in time for its delivery deadline on February 22, 2013.
Submission of the short films, on the other hand, starts on September 19 and ends on December 13. The 10 finalists will be announced on February 8, 2013.
“Submission of screenplays will be similar to the anonymous system employed by the Palanca Awards. Meaning the CineFilipino Film Festival organizing committee, which will determine the eight qualifying films, will not know who the respective writers and directors are until after they are selected,” Nebrida pointed out.
When asked if anyone involved in CineFilipino, including the PLDT Smart Foundation, Unitel Productions and TV5 (who will own and hold the rights to the eight selected features), will have a say in the creative direction of a qualified film particularly in casting, Nebrida said that while they will make “suggestions,” the final decision still rests on the filmmakers. He assured the media that it would not be a problem even if a film has a cast of total unknowns.
To avoid screenplays not being filmed on time or not being made at all, CineFilipino will make sure that the proponents of the selected films will have both the know-how, the experience, as well as the manpower and logistics to get the project done.
While there is no category for documentaries, Nebrida acknowledged that given that there are many very good documentaries that have been emerging as of late, “at some point, we will have to consider that.”
Even as CineFilipino is the latest film festival to be announced in the wake of the success of similar indie filmfests like Cinemalaya, Cinema One and the Film Development Council of the Philippines’ Sineng Pambansa, Nebrida believes that this is good for the local film industry as a whole as it allows more avenues to nurture the country’s emerging filmmakers.
“With CineFilipino, many filmmakers can now express themselves in easy, affordable fashion,” he declared.