Today marked the first day of the Lilas Binisaya Film Festival at Cine Oriente Theater in the Colonnade Mall.
Before the event started, my brother bought me this gift!
It’s a clapper! It’s a fucking clapper!! Oh gosh, no matter how the festival turns out, I’m happy. My brother is the best ever!
The event started at 5pm. The film directors for the participating films were requested to register and were each given festival kits. Each kit contained a copy of the program schedule, a free Lilas Binisaya shirt, stickers, and 2 film festival publications. Unfortunately, the kits are only available for the directors of the participating films. Since I’m the only one who could get a kit for the Erlinda production team, the kit’s contents will be divided amongst the members of Comfortable Confusion Productions.
Since I arrived relatively early, I had time to go around and get to know some of the organizers and participating filmmakers in the event. In fact, the first person I actually managed to talk to as soon as I arrived was the event’s Festival Director, Ms. Maria Victoria Beltran, who also introduced me to Mr. Carey Rothman – one of the judges in the short film competition and the head of Film Media Arts International Academy (FMA) in Cebu. The FMA will award a film scholarship to whoever wins the short film competition. This is just one of the prizes to be given to the competition’s grand winner, along with the chance to participate in Cinema Rehiyon + P10,000 grand prize.
After the registration, the participating filmmakers were asked to join the ribbon cutting for the culmination of the festival. Several of Lilas Binisaya’s media partners took photos of the ribbon cutting ceremony and of the activities in the event itself.
During the cocktails/snacks, I was fortunate to have had a chance to meet one of the Philippines’ award-winning veteran actress, Ms. Pilar Pilapil.
In her speech later on at the event opening, Ms. Pilapil expressed in Cebuano her faith in the Cebuano’s ability to enrich culture using pelikulang binisaya. She encourages every struggling Cebuano artist, filmmaker, actor/actress, screenwriter, producer, and dreamer to “always strive for excellence because we are all capable of it”. She also expressed her belief in the skills and talents of every Cebuano, encouraging each and every one of us to immortalize the culture of Cebu and showcase it to the nation. After all, Cebu is one of the earliest haven for artists and filmmakers and that’s how she believes it should continue to be.
They proudly showcased the traditional Filipino martial arts in graceful strokes. I actually kinda wished I knew how to fight using Arnis, and they just made that wish burn stronger in my heart lol.
By 8:30pm, the film Ang Manok ni San Pedro was screened. According to the Q&A regarding the film, it was originally shot using 8mm film and was formatted to meet the standard 35mm film size back then.
Watching this film is like going on a ride on a time machine. For one, Ang Manok ni San Pedro is one of the first technicolored films in the Philippines. It’s also the first technicolored film in Cebuano. This was a big deal back then because most of the theaters showcased black and white silent motion pictures.
What also makes the film screening even more interesting is the fact that it was screened in the Cine Oriente Theater owned by the Avila family. The theater has had a long, long history in Philippine cinema. Located in the heart of the first commercial street in the Philippines, Colon Street, Colonnade Mall’s Cine Oriente Theater was established in 1895 by governor Inocencio Junquera as Teatro Junquera and was used as an appropriate venue for plays and musicals. Eventually, it came to be known as Teatro Oriente and it became the Cebuanos’ favorite venue for stageplays such as Vicente Sotto’s Gugma sa Yutang Natawhan (Love for the Motherland).
By 1939, the Teatro became Cebu’s premier playhouse for silent cinema. It was renamed Cine Oriente by Don Jose Avila when he purchased it in the 1920s. Eventually, the theater burned down during the Japanese invasion and has since then been through several major renovations. Among these is the installation of Dolby Digital Surround Sound, new digital projectors, and the management of the Colon Heritage Realty Corp.
Best of all, one of the veteran pioneers im Cebuano filmmaking, Mr. Julian Daan (who also stars as the lead character, Teban, in Ang Manok ni San Pedro) graced us with his presence. He was even very accommodating and helpful in providing insightful ideas into Cebuano filmmaking and adapting to the changing demands of the Filipino public. He passionately supports local films and is truly an inspiration to each and every Cebuano filmmaker.
As such, the film screening is the closest thing to traveling through time at that moment. Imagine, watching one of the pioneering Cebuano technicolored films in the oldest movie theater in Cebu at the first commercial street in the Philippines. That in itself is amazing.
Now, imagine this historic site as a venue for our films on the 29th! Just the thought of seeing our film expanded to the big screen is exciting! It will be the first time we’ll personally witness a film production on a real movie screen, so…OMG! It’s overwhelming!