As a springboard for established and budding artists to tackle a wide range of social issues in Mindanao using film as the medium, Cinemagis has curated motion pictures that have already been screened and awarded in national and international independent film festivals.

Now on its ninth installment, Cinemagis continues to serve as a platform for young and professional filmmakers in Northern Mindanao to pour out their passion, stories and filmmaking skills, and for cultivating the experience and growth of local film audiences.

“Cinemagis 9 harvests new experiences that voice the terrain of Northern Mindanao’s sentiments and sensitivities,” says festival author and curator Hobart Savior.

“The films this year tackle issues from the personal to a more collective experience where social issues could either be clearly seen or implied to magnify tension and to ‘problematize’ the mundane and dissect it as determination, pursuit, identification, emancipation, tradition, poverty, life, love, and death,” he adds.

Over the years, Cinemagis has grown prolifically and Savior, who helms Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan’s Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts (XCCA) as director, attributes this momentum to the dynamic presence and pertinent talent of the filmmakers, cast, and crew, who come from various provinces and cities of Northern Mindanao.

“Looking at the future, we hope that there would be more reflections of our voices and aspirations shared and celebrated beyond any competition there is — I would like to emphasize that Cinemagis’s prime role, apart from giving away awards, is to celebrate the harvest, the good harvest, the good ones. We may not have the school for filmmaking yet, but I hope we have the humility and high respect for the craft beyond any other reasons there are. Northern Mindanao filmmakers create these films because there is so much to show and share!” says the XCCA director.

Cinemagis 9 shortlisted five professional entries, 12 student films, and seven special film features, which will be screened at the XU Little Theater and SM Cagayan de Oro Cinema 1 from January 25 to 28.

Professional category

“Balot. Penoy. Asin” by Julienne Anne Ilagan follows the story of 47-year-old street food vendor named Fredo. The protagonist’s day begins at night as he roams the streets of the city until the wee hours of the morning. One particular evening, Fredo meets different people from various walks of life, a fateful encounter that inevitably changes what he knows and thinks about the world.

A film on friendship and resilience, “Bandana” by Adrien Rey Manapil, features Paeng, who, in the aftermath of Sendong in Cagayan de Oro City, finds himself in a rebellious life in the arms of a new family. In his debut as the group’s new commander under study, his faith and fate are put to test as he finds out that his close and long lost friend, Edwin, is a prisoner of their group.

Secrets mar Paolo and Ellie, married for five years, in Cloyd Winstanley’s “Libra. In his film, the couple takes a vacation at a beach resort wherein Paolo reveals a dark secret from his past that Ellie might not be able to forgive him. But it turns out that Ellie also has a secret of her own.

“Ang Ikaduhang Pagbalik (The Second Coming)” by Jeffrie Po explores man’s faith and religiosity. A young man, who was hesitant at first to join a church service, finally decides to change the course of his spiritual life.

Completing the five entries in the professional category of Cinemagis 9 is “Orpheus” by Orpheus Nery. The director explains, “Orpheus descends to hell to save Eurydice from the filthy hands of Hades.”

Student films

“Unsa ang Title? (What’s the Title?)” by Reyan Christian Amacna of La Salle Ozamiz features an introvert boy who boards an apartment and a series of events happens leading to many speculations about him.

“Bayuy (Home),” written by Philippine Normal University Mindanao’s Runaliza Campos, presents a conversation between Raya, a Manobo and a university student, and her newfound friend. The two talk about the Manobo culture and how to build relationships.

In Karlo Jill Gonzales’s “The Last Letter, the lead character writes a letter for the woman she dearly loves. While he’s in melancholy and mourning, his friends come over to console him.

Inspired by a true story, Carlo Pailagao’s “Mama” explores the ardent passion of a mother who will do everything to provide for her son in college.

Xavier Ateneo student Rod Villegas’s “Penpenhod (Love)” challenges the audience to examine a reckless love story of Willie and Louisa and its consequences. This film stars two XU Development Communication students, Rey Anthony Anacleto and Friah Pagaduan.

“Katapad” by Liceo de Cagayan University’s Cindy Obenita and Vashtie Cabana begins with a peaceful evening, where there lurk two mysterious men in the neighborhood. One of them discovers something terrifying upon his “awakening,” from which he could not escape.

In “Moru: No Man’s Land, Julius, an artist with a de-realization tendency, struggles to come back to reality after getting into a surreal world caused either by his psychological disorder or an enchanted encounter in the forest. Moru is written and directed by XU student and theater actor Edmund Telmo.

“Ilad (Deception)” by Carlos Peñaloza navigates through a problematic father-and-son relationship. One day, a tragedy strikes and the son tries once again to befriend his father. Will he be successful this time is what the viewers should find out.

Tackling a case on substance addiction, “Iktad” by Jaybee Abadiez follows the journey of a certain Rogelio, a 19-year-old who killed his mother while he was under the influence of illegal drugs.

“Para sa mga Nibiya (For those Who Left)” by Mac Kianro Maki Calo starts with a shot of a stranded couple, trying to find a way home. The couple finally finds a ride, a habal-habal, going to a “hopeful destination.”

“Subang” by Christian Alan Toring shows kindness in a tender way. Toring writes: “One fine morning, in the peaceful community of Sitio Kalubihon, all of its residents are busy doing their daily routine before work begins. Manong Sorbetero is inside his home, getting ready for another wonderful day of roaming around and making people happy with his crowd-favorite dessert.”

“De Doubus Malis (Of Two Evils)” by Augie Marie Lao Don completes this year’s Cinemagis 12 student entries.

More films at Cinemagis 9

On January 25, the opening and nomination night of Cinemagis will feature a screening of “Lando at Bugoy” by Camiguin-based Vic Acedillo Jr, one of the full-length films during the 11th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Other special film features include Acedillo’s “Kakampi,” Rodiell Veloso’s “Ang Wa’ Damhang Importansya sa Teleserye,” Daniel Clark Cabantan’s “Handuman,” Aubrey Rocin Llamas’s “A Fading Heritage,” Joeremer Bacus’s “Tanya,” and Jeffrie Po’s “The Soil of Dreams.”

“We have the awards for excellence in various categories. This year’s best short films (student and professional) will win Php7, 000.00 each and we also have given commendations and citations to films in documentary-style, experimental and non-linear post-modern filmmaking,” says Savior. The Cinemagis Awards Night will be held on January 28 at SM CDO Event Center.

“The Film Development Council of the Philippines will be coming over as they are one of the presenters of this year’s Cinemagis,” he adds.

Despite the absence of formal film schools in Northern Mindanao, Cinemagis serves as an avenue to showcase the works of filmmakers from this part of the country. Over the years, with the support of various institutions, a handful of Cinemagis films were able to romped away national recognitions and international exposures.

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