Words by Angelo Lorenzo

After attending the opening night of this year’s Cinemagis on Wednesday, January 25, I managed to engage a brief conversation with Carlo Pailagao, the director of “Mama” to congratulate him for this year’s film festival. His film was one of the entries under the student category. I also wanted to inquire about his film as its trailer showing a mother weeping with a stranger on the street seemed dramatic.

Carlo, an Electronics Engineering major at Xavier Ateneo, initially conceptualized “Mama” to fulfill a requirement for his English 41 class. With Carlo’s potential and decision to join, he qualified for the festival. His passion for filmmaking made me realize how anyone of any background can become a filmmaker, a patron of the visual and literary arts, and an advocate for storytelling.

Three days later, at SM Cagayan de Oro City Event Center, XU Development Communication senior Brian Anay echoed the same sentiment during the awarding ceremony. Accepting the awards on behalf of the cast and crew of Harold Villegas’s “Penpenhod,” he said in his speech, “There is an actor within each of us.” He elaborated that if one truly has the passion and the will to pursue this craft, fulfilling a film is plausible. He exemplified “Penpenhod” which won Villegas the Best Director for the student category and neophyte Friah Pagaduan the Best Actress despite having only four people worked on the film.

VISUAL STORYTELLING. Cinemagis 9 shortlisted five professional entries, 12 student films, and seven special film features, screened at the XU Little Theater (pictured here) and SM Cagayan de Oro City Cinema 1 from January 25 to 28. Photo by Rico Magallona.

For nine years now, Cinemagis has made a venue for local filmmakers like Pailagao and Villegas to present the beauty of their craft. As a festival for digital short films, it also holds a venue for competition. But with the triumph each filmmaker has achieved with their talents and films revealed to the viewers, competition has become an afterthought.

Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts (XCCA) director and festival author Hobart Savior explained that more than the awards, Cinemagis celebrates “the good harvest.” Cinemagis derived its name from the terms “cinema,” which pertains to film or motion pictures and “magis,” a Latin word which relates to striving for excellence.

What Cinemagis genuinely upholds through the years are the stories — the overlooked, the odd, the unheard of, and the new perspectives — in films and told by their storytellers. “Northern Mindanao filmmakers — they film because there is so much to show and share!” exclaimed Savior.

By this, Cinemagis has discovered and introduced artists in the region whose talents have been recognized in the foreign screen.

In March last year, Germany’s 17th Landshut Short Film Festival included Joe Bacus’s “Happy Fiesta” among the many entries from filmmakers around the world. This is an achievement which the Filipino community can be proud of, along with Brilliante Mendoza and Lav Diaz and their lauded cinematic pieces. Bacus, who previously competed in the previous years of Cinemagis with his entry, “Ika-3 Putahi,” also participated this year with his new short film, “Tanya.”

A decade of Cinemagis looms ahead. As its scope recently expanded towards the Caraga Region, we hope to see more filmmakers pursuing their passion to tell stories, encourage artists of the same bunch to follow suit, and for people who love films — released locally or internationally — to support them and appreciate what they do.

As long as there are stories to share and people willing to share them, and with festivals, such as Cinemagis, to celebrate this endeavor, film, like many forms of art, will endure and succeed through the years.

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