July 20—Cinemalaya 2012 will open with the film by Mario O’Hara entitled Babae sa Breakwater as a tribute to the late filmmaker who succumbed to Leukemia a few weeks ago. To those who haven’t seen the film and will not be able to make it to CCP this Friday, poor you you can watch a poor copy of the film here.
Cinemalaya has added its screening venues to—I think—reach out to more people who find traveling to CCP as too much effort just to see low-budget films. Or rather the more obvious, to increase their sales. It will now also be shown in two theaters in Greenbelt 3 (from just one last year), and one in Trinoma. However, this is a guide to watching Cinemalaya at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, because for one, you won’t need a guide if it’s in the malls, and two, the spirit of the festival is more felt in the main venue. At the CCP lobby, you’ll find posters of the competing films with photographs and the most remarkable mementos from the film like a maroon gown from Mayohan, a fake plastic halo-halo from Pink Halo-Halo and an orange campaign vest from Vox Populi. Cocktail party food (used to) be/is served too.
Here I’m supposed to make a guide in watching Cinemalaya films at CCP so before I lose track, let’s start.
Read the screening summary and watch the trailers and be able to identify favorites just by them (or research some more, your call). If you plan to watch all of them, rank them from the best to worst.
Plot your favorites on the schedule of film screenings. You prioritize gala presentations of your better list, you won’t regret that I swear. You can get a hard copy of the schedule from every corner of the CCP.
- Schedule of Film Screenings in PDF here.
Know the theaters. Why we need to know or at least get an inkling on the seating capacity of a theater is because firstly, it will determine the volume of tickets sold for each screening. Through the years of watching, I have developed a phobia on sold-out screenings. Give yourself a slack. Cinemalaya is no longer unknown to many. In fact, ticket sales skyrocketed to over 50,000 last year, the highest recorded so far. With the swarming of mainstream actors and actresses in the festival this year, the likes of Judy Ann Santos, Dennis Trillo, Jodie Sta. Maria, etc., it is expected to be record-breaking in terms of sales and heart-breaking in terms of crowd control. Secondly, familiarizing yourself with the CCP theaters will let you identify which venue is most comfortable for you. If you like crowds and wide screens, choose the big theaters. For more intimate setting choose the smaller ones. Here are the CCP theaters sorted by seating capacity.
Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo or the CCP Main Theater
- The largest of the theaters. It is advised (by me) that you select a seat anywhere in the orchestra to get a better view. Else, extend and strain your neck the whole time at the balcony. I’m not so sure about this, I may just be a little short in height, I don’t know. There are also boxes hanging left and right if you notice. I haven’t seen them used ever by the audience, although I see “CCP Authorized Personnel” or some sort getting in and out of it occasionally.
- This is the theater you’ll first see when you use the ramp on either side of the water fountain to the entrance. The giant wooden sliding door at the center is the main entrance to the Main Theater.
- Relevance to Cinemalaya: This is where Cinemalaya opens and closes the festival every year. Therefore, Babae sa Breakwater will be shown here and the awards night will be held here as well. All gala presentations are screened here too. I suggest that you choose as much gala presentations as you can, or as deemed fit to your sched. Not only that the tickets are less-likely to be sold-out, but it’ll allow you to hear it from the directors, writers, actors themselves before or after the screening. It’s more like a “premiere night” as called in the mainstream.
Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino or The Little Theater
- I think the capacity of this theater is less than half of the Main Theater. The first time I’ve been here was when I saw the play “Ang Mga Huwad” an adaptation of the novel The Pretenders by my favorite National Artist, F. Sionil Jose. Just a short addition to that, the playwright was Rody Vera, the Virgin Labfest festival director until last year.
- This one-level theater is perfect for theater plays that require ample space for actors to move but not sacrificing the good audience-to-actors proximity. The screen is still relatively big for film screenings, but not as wide as what you’re used to at mall cinemas.
Tanghalang Huseng Batute or The Studio Theater
- It’s a two-level theater, often used for experimental plays like Virgin Labfest. Fairly small but its variable seats are used practically to make adjustments for whatever the production requires. So in film showings, the stage is replaced by a few comfortable seats with additional monobloc chairs to maximize the space. While the bleachers, though looks moveable, have always been fixed to their places ever since. The latest Cinemalaya entry’s I’ve seen here were Ranchero and Ang Paglilitis Kay Andres Bonifacio.
Tanghalang Manuel Conde or Dream Theater
- It’s comparable to half the size of an average classroom, much smaller than Huseng Batute. Trivia: This is where Eiga Sai or the Japanese Film Festival used to be shown back in the olden days when most viewers were Nihongo students and Japanese nationals. There were no falling in long lines here; viewers barely full the theater.
- The floor seats are inclined only by a small angle which is a no-go for me.
Bulwagang Alagad ng Sining or CCP MKP Hall
- It, being a multifunction hall, is understandably the smallest of all the venues. It is equipped with a huge flat screen TV and a pair of couch in front for VIPs. There are monoblocs scattered and stacked all over the place and viewers are allowed to get inside up to standing-room only. I only go for this on desperate situations like when I watched the film about a gay reporter (played by Baron Geisler) entitled Jay.
- No cameras allowed. I hate them for this because they were never consistent about it. One day you can bring an SLR inside, the next you’ll have to deposit it in their baggage counter. What I notice is that they get stricter as the festival is nearing to close. And boy, you’ll discover that many have successfully hidden their digicams in their crotch once an artista emerges from the sea of people. This, applicable not only for Cinemalaya but for other festivals, events, theater plays etc.
- Keep your tickets, not for inspection, but for voting for your favorite film. You drop the other half of your ticket to their people’s-choice-award dropbox.