MANILA – A new film festival is set to be held in the Philippines later this month.
EON Foundation, Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), and the HIV advocacy group LoveYourself Inc. have come together to host CineSpectra, with the inaugural theme of “Your Judgment, Their Life.”
The event will feature 10 short, locally produced films that aim to spark discussion about HIV/AIDS.
“We envision CineSpectra every year to be motivated by an advocacy, not necessarily HIV, every year,” said Adam Crayne, advocacy lead for EON Foundation, in a press conference for CineSpectra. “But we chose HIV/AIDS for our inaugural year because it is as important as it is controversial. There are so many dialogues about HIV/AIDS going on right now, and so many of them are being swept under the rug.”
“We know we can’t reverse the course when CineSpectra is formally concluded,” he added. “But we can get people talking so people know that HIV is not a death sentence. It’s communication that moves the advocacy forward.”
FDCP chair Liza Diño said she immediately said yes to the partnership, noting that the advocacy has been “very personal” for her.
“When my husband, Ice Seguerra, was still chairman of the National Youth Commission, ‘yun ang isa sa mga sini-spearhead niya na initiatives. They wanted to create a campaign to create awareness on HIV and remove the stigma on people living with it,” she said.
She went on: “We wanted the government to participate, especially the DOH (Department of Health), on how they can take out the parental consent na kailangan sa mga gustong magpa-test [for HIV] na 18 years old and below. So when this initiative to have an advocacy film festival was shared to us, of course super excited talaga kami.”
The 10 CineSpectra films started out as mere ideas submitted by young and aspiring filmmakers, along with 87 other entries.
EON Foundation was able to tap into the resources of FDCP and LoveYourself to “sift through the material” to ensure that the resulting films show an accurate picture of the HIV/AIDS experience.
“The filmmakers were given SOGI (Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity) training as well as trainings to heighten their sensitivity and awareness to the subject matter,” Crayne said as he discussed CineSpectra’s film lab component.
“What you will see are films that do justice to the advocacy.”
CineSpectra will take place at Trinoma mall in Quezon City from August 26 to 27, and at Cinematheque venues in Manila, Iloilo, and Davao from August 28 to 30.
A concluding ceremony will award three standout entries, and one of them will be screened as part of FDCP’s Sine Kabataan event in September.
This, Diño said, will give CineSpectra nationwide exposure as the winning short film will be paired with a full-length counterpart in Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.
“Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino is our national film festival where ten new films will be showcased in all 900 cinemas. So nakakabit ang mga Sine Kabataan films before the main picture, and it allows for the (CineSpectra) film to have automatic nationwide screening,” she explained, adding that the CineSpectra winning entry will also have the opportunity to participate in international networking events of the FDCP.
Below are the 10 films in CineSpectra 2019:
1. “A” by Roy Modina
Synopsis: Ken is at a high point in his career. He spends his days getting ready for his new lead role and getting into the skin of his new character: A, a troubled young man who tries to commit suicide after getting rejected by the man he loves. But Ken has another fight to deal with and while his family and friends are supportive, his hope to win this battle is slowly dying. Will fiction bleed into real life?
2. “Alex and Aki” by Dexter de Jesus
Synopsis: A few minutes before their dance recital, two men, Alex and Aki, face their own dilemma. Little do they know, they are dancing for their lives.
3. “Ang Gasgas na Plaka ni Lolo Bert” by Janina Gacosta and Cheska Marfori
Synopsis: A closeted gay man in his 60s has been living with HIV for 10 years. His life revolves around his small, shabby apartment. Isolating himself from the world, his daily routine consists of listening to AM radio stations and planning his long-awaited funeral. Without a friend or a family member left, he plans to kill himself as soon as he pays his memorial plan in full. While he continues to give in to emptiness, a package from his dead ex-lover arrives in his apartment. His monotonous life suddenly takes a sudden turn when he opens the package and sees an old vinyl record. His tinge of excitement doesn’t last long – as he tries to play the old vinyl record, it suddenly stops during the middle of the song. Out of his frustration, he goes to a shop that repairs and restores old vinyl records. He meets the owner, a lonely widower in his 50s. The lonely widower can’t seem to fix the old vinyl record completely. The old man goes back and forth to the repair shop. Amidst loneliness, the two form an unlikely bond.
4. “Doon sa Isang Sulok” by Alfredo “Yong” Tapang Jr.
Synopsis: A supposed “happy gathering” among childhood friends becomes a bitter revelation as Jason, an openly gay man, attempts to discuss a serious and personal matter, only to find out that his friends are a homophobic bunch after all these years. Surprised with his friends’ views on his sexual orientation and LGBTQ issues in general, powdered with toxic masculinity, he decides to keep the issue to himself as he walks out of the party, and eventually from the friendship he thought he had with them.
5. “Gulis” by Kyle Jumayne Francisco
Synopsis: Andrei is a thriving painter whose father, Jun, isn’t in full support of his passion. Their lives take a turn when they both discover Andrei’s health status.
6. “Ikaw Din?!” by Aaron Alsol
Synopsis: Isang magkapatid na si Paul, isang bading, at si Nina, isang college student, ay parehong positibo sa HIV test. Magtutulungan ang dalawa upang sabihin sa kanilang mga magulang ang nalamang resulta. Mag-iisip sila ng iba’t ibang gimik upang hindi sila masyadong pagalitan at turuan ang kanilang mga magulang tungkol sa HIV.
7. “Panihapon” by Eli Razo
Synopsis: After being released from the hospital, James, a successful engineer, is preparing a dinner for his parents’ visitation at his apartment. He is cooking pasta with red sauce and dinuguan. His parents arrive at his apartment. At the dinner, he gives a medical certificate to his parents and reveals his HIV positive status.
8. “Quieter is Louder” by Kathleen Gonzales
Synopsis: One night, Marie, a 17-year old inborn deaf girl, engages in unprotected sex with her boyfriend. After the event, Marie shares her overwhelming feelings for her boyfriend and tells what happened that night to her closest friend in deaf school, Maxine. Maxine bluntly tries to warn her and gives her advice on practicing safe sex or else she might get pregnant. After the two girls talk, a text message pops. It is Marie’s boyfriend asking to see her. Marie’s boyfriend confesses that he just found out that he has HIV.
9. “Taya” by John Aurthur Mercader
Synopsis: A girl remembers her childhood as she and her friends are playing an intense game of tag. As the children catch each other, they start turning red. Zooming through the small crooked streets and alleyways of their small town, one by one each child is tagged and turns red, except the little girl. She is quick. She evades every advance with such ease it almost seems impossible to catch her. Laughing and gasping as her running becomes more intense, a boy is catching up. They are having the time of their life. And just as the boy catches her, the girl opens her eyes with thrill, just barely catching her breath to an inch of her ecstasy. She turns around to the boy who has just finished having sex with her. She fixes a smile and just as the boy starts putting his clothes back on, the girl starts turning red.
10. “Taym Pers, Pers Taym” by Ceazara Vidallo
Synopsis: In a game that everyone seems to play, one man decides to make a power move. Richard is finally at his most awaited moment and is torn between playing it safe or risking everything to experience full satisfaction. With the conservative guidance of his brother Eugene and the carefree advice of his buddy Benjo clashing in his head, Richard is confused on how he will proceed with his “Pers Taym” moment.