Philippines Independent Film Festival Cinemalaya 2023 Returns To Manila

ANG DUYAN NG MAGITING by DUSTIN CELESTINO Cinemalaya 2023. Music Press Asia

Cinemalaya – one of the most anticipated annual film festivals in the country – is back for its 19th edition, marking it as the second onsite screening of Cinemalaya since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s what to expect in the 19th edition of Cinemalaya.


Recently, the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Cinemalaya Foundation Inc. announced that their renewed partnership with Ayala Malls Cinemas will bring this year’s film festival “closer to film enthusiasts and reach wider audiences.”

Now in its 19th year, the Cinemalaya films in competitions – 10 full-length films and two sets of short films – will be screened from August 5 to 13, 2023, at Glorietta, Ayala Malls Manila Bay, UP Town Center, and Trinoma.

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For the first time in nearly two decades, Cinemalaya will have its new home at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). It’s traditional venue, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), is closed for up to three years for major renovation.

PICC, just a few blocks away from CCP, is a popular venue for global conferences, school graduation, and other cultural festivals.

Cinemalaya will also hold screenings in four Ayala Malls cinemas, namely, Manila Bay, TriNoma, Glorietta, and U.P. Town Center. Screening venues in PICC are Cinema Rizal, Cinema Bonifacio, and Cinema Felipe.

The 19th Cinemalaya will feature 10 full-length competing films. These are:

“Maria” by Sheryl Rose Andes

“Maria” is the first full-length documentary in Cinemalaya. In the Philippines, with limited civic and democratic space amid a culture of impunity, three women named Maria are on the journey to seek truth and fight for justice.

“Gitling” by Jopy Arnaldo

A young Filipino translator and a middle-aged Japanese director test the limits of language. They discover the beauty of understanding during the unlikeliest of times: while creating Ilonggo subtitles for the director’s Japanese film. They race to the finish before the film’s festival premiere in Bacolod City.

BULAWAN NGA USA by Kenneth de la Cruz Cinemalaya 2023. Music Press Asia
[Bulawan Nga Usa, a film by Kenneth de la Cruz, is inspired by mysticism and folklore from his very own hometown. The music is scored by Steve Magbanua. Music Press Asia]

“Tether” by Gian Arre

After a one-night stand, an arrogant playboy and a timid young woman discover that any kind of pleasure or pain they inflict on themselves is felt simultaneously by the other person.

“Ang Duyan ng Magiting” by Dustin Celestino

The film is a collection of scenes among the protagonists, antagonists, and victims of war, terrorism, and politics in the Philippines.

“Bulawan Nga Usa (Golden Deer)” by Kenneth De La Cruz

After his beloved grandfather’s death, Makoy embarks on an expedition to a mystical mountain in search of the golden deer that possesses the power to grant wishes. He befriends a spirited young boy who joins him in the quest for the mythical creature and self-discovery.

“Rookie” by Samantha Lee

A tall, awkward teenager moves to a new town and is forced to join the volleyball team of her new all-girl Catholic high school. Everything changes when she falls for the volleyball team captain.

“Huling Palabas” by Ryan Machado

In the summer of 2001, 16-year-old Andoy searches for his long-lost father in the most unlikely of things — VHS tapes. His reality becomes mystified when two movielike characters appear in their small hometown.

19th Cinemalaya Manila Philippines. Music Press Asia
[19th Cinemalaya Manila Philippines. Music Press Asia]

“When This is All Over” by Kevin Mikhail Mayuga

A disconnected desperate guy forges a deal with a group of privileged misfits to plan a secret party at the height of a global pandemic, for a chance to escape his reality.

“Iti Mapupukaw (The Missing)” by Carl Joseph Papa

When an alien comes back to take him, a mouthless young man’s life twists and turns as his memories untangle. It is the first animated film to compete in Cinemalaya.

“As If It’s True” by John Rogers

A fading social media influencer and a struggling musician exploit each other in a not-so-fake relationship.

Short films
Similarly, 10 short films will also compete for this year’s Cinemalaya. These are:

“Tong Adlaw Nga Nag-Snow sa Pinas” by Joshua Caesar Medroso

In a coastal barrio, two young boys, who are fond of snow and Samurai movies, are challenged to face a world of violence and abuse.

“HM HM MHM” by Sam Villa-real and Kim Timan

A young woman returns to her childhood home where she rediscovers her makeshift dollhouse. Her touch breathes life back into the dolls, coming alive as they replay an all-too-familiar story.

Read more:

Podcast cover July 2023. Music Press Asia

“Golden Bells” by Kurt Soberano

In 1979 a young Chinese-Filipino boy witnessed his father’s dream come true of opening a small clothing store in downtown Bacolod City and eventually realizes the need to maintain the family business for love and legacy.

“Hinakdal” by Arvn Belarmino

A zombie family gets their isolated life disturbed by a human being who attempts to steal their livestock.

“Kokuryo: The Untold Story of Bb. Undas 2019” by Diokko Manuel Dionisio

Two trans best friends tear through their town in search of the person who stole half of the cash prize they won in a miss gay competition.

“Ang Kining Binalaybay Kag Ambahanon Ko Para Sa Imo” by Kent John Desamparado

The film follows the touching journey of a grandfather and a child as the former brings the latter to her new home.

Cinemalaya 2023 film screening. Music Press Asia
[Cinemalaya 2023 film screening time and date at PICC. Music Press Asia]

“Maudi Nga Arapaap (Last Dream)” by Daniel James Magayon

As a night shift nurse dumped one of her mother’s possessions reminiscent to an abusive treatment in her childhood, her actions attracted a Batibat’s wrath, which led to her worst nightmare.

“Makoko sa Baybay” by Mike Cabales

Noor and his younger brother go to the beach in hopes of finding the sea creature who killed their mother.

“Sibuyas ni Perfecto (Perfecto’s Onion)” by Janura Yap

It’s a bright day ahead as Perfecto takes the long road to his friend’s house. But everyone it seems was going the other way.

Makoko sa Baybay by MIKE CABARLES Cinemalaya 2023. Music Press Asia
[Makoko sa Baybay is a film by Mike Cabarles. The film’s original music soundtrack is by Hans Rivera. Music Press Asia]

“Sota” by Mae Tanagon

A documentary film following the lives of two horse caretakers in San Lazaro Business and Leisure Park who struggle to make ends meet amidst the low-wage employment in the horse racing industry.


Regular price per screening of every Cinemalaya film entry is ₱300 with a 20% discount for Cinemalaya 19 Full-length and Shorts competition filmmakers.

Meanwhile, the student price for every film is ₱200 with a 20% discount for senior citizens, persons with disabilities, government and military personnel, and athletes.

Viewers can also avail Cinemalaya 19 Festival pass (₱2,880) – which will be equivalent to 12 tickets (10 full-length and two sets of five short films).

Tickets are available at TicketWorld and CCP Box Office.

Cinemalaya’s daily screening schedule can be accessed here.

Read more:

Music conference 2023. Music Press Asia


The 35th Gawad Alternatibo Festival – the longest-running independent film competition of its kind in Asia – will also be held consecutively with Cinemalaya 19 for free!

The festival has different sets of films from animation and experimental to documentary and short features.

Other than film screenings, Cinemalaya 19 will also have four book launches, namely, “Sinetala” by Nick Deocampo, “Lahat ng B” by Ricky Lee, For B by Ricky Lee, and CCP Arthouse Cinema by Adjani Arumpac.

Visit the Cinemalaya website or social media pages for updates.

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