Film Fridays: This is why we’re doing the Hidden Cinema Congress

Last month, I was delighted to know that I’m part of the Hidden Cinema exhibit curated by no less than the multitalented filmmaker and film historian, Nick Deocampo. The Ayala Museum is kind and generous enough to devote a space for alternative filmmakers like us! Aww. Thank you so much! Also to the Filipinas Heritage library and to other sponsors like CNN Philippines, Samsung and Center for New Cinema, big thank yous!

The installation features mostly alternative Filipino filmmakers. From big names such as Cannes Film Festival winner, Raymond Red and Berlin Film Festival awardee, Kidlat Tahimik. And then to a nobody like Florence Rosini.

That’s why I’m deeply honored to have been chosen as one of the filmmakers that make up the first cycle of the exhibit, also dubbed as CineRhizome. To be alongside these distinguished luminaries is a very mindblowing experience! Of course, I don’t want to take all the credit. Everybody from our team made a huge effort to put it altogether. For us to be featured, all it took was an online submission of a one minute excerpt of our film called Ang Biyahe Ni Marlon.’ And then we left it all to… fate. That was July 6.

Last Monday, August 13, was the Hidden Cinema Congress, and later that day, we formally welcomed the second wave of filmmakers that made up “Cycle 2.”

I thought the event was only for established filmmakers who would discuss their filmmaking experiences  to us amateurs. And it was… but it was waaay more than that. Because it was an avenue for a healthy and insightful discussion of the Philippine Alternative Cinema movement.

I keep on saying Alternative or Alt, but what is it anyway? Sir Nick defined this as:

“espousing or reflecting values different from those of the establishment or of mainstream culture”. See photo below.

Sir Nick said that the last time a Congress of such intention was held in the 80s! Wow, 30+ years ago!! From then on, nada. So with this initiative, Sir Nick and his friends gathered everyone for an afternoon to start a dialogue about the current situation of Alt cinema in the Philippines. Alternative cinema includes but are not limited to: student films, short films, advocacy cinema, experimental films, among others.

The independent cinema or alternative cinema in the country has been on the rise in the last thirty years because of the popularity of digital filmmaking, which is accessible to the youth, and the millenials. It’s evident in the proliferation of student films that join festivals and those short films that circulate online. Alt Filmmakers (and boy, were there many of us in in the ground floor of the Museum) made a declaration that day: to continue making alternative films and support the Movement.

It was overwhelming for me. I didn’t think that was going to be a monumental day for alternative cinema in the Philippines! And I was there to witness it. Also present were members of the academe, teachers and students who are film enthusiasts and film lovers, aside from the filmmakers and film historians.

What made this historical? First, the Congress coincided with the centennial celebration of Philippine cinema. Second, we formalized the Movement by gathering everyone through the Congress. We called it the Philippine Alternative Cinema Movement. We defined it, as shown above. Third, we had an open forum where we discussed our action plans, even as welcoming suggestions of institutionalizing the Movement! Thanks to the encouragement of Sir Nick, the support of the community and the assistance of government instutions like NCCA, FDCP and CHED.

Also present in the event to discuss their experiences in alternative filmmaking are filmmakers: Elvert Bañares, Raymond Red, Jag Garcia, and NCCA Commissioner Teddy Co.

Raymond Red
Award-winning filmmaker Raymond Red shares his thoughts on being an alternative filmmaker in the Philippines during the ‘80s.
Jag Garcia
Film practitioner Jag Garcia specifies the important role of academic institutions in the promotion of film literacy in our country. He also stresses that student films are continuously on the rise now that digital filmmaking is accessible to the youth.
Elvert Banares
Elvert Bañares, a filmmaker from Iloilo, shares a visual love letter that showcases the excerpts of some short films from different regions in the Philippines. For him, and we agree, these are some of the gems of #CinemaRehiyon.
Teddy Co
NCCA Commissioner Teddy Co imparts the role of the government in generating film-related awareness and education in the country.

Indeed, I’m sure there will be more reasons to celebrate aside the the Centennial mark of Philippine cinema. And I’m glad to watch history unfold right before my eyes!

Thank you so much to the organizers and the speakers of the Hidden Cinema Congress for creating a space for dialogue and encouraging alternative filmmakers to continue on making waves and movie-making! Salamat po sa inyong lahat! 🙂

hidden cinema congress 1

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