Catch The Best Of Local Cinema At These Philippine Film Festivals


Our local film industry gets a lot of flack.

In fact, if you’re someone who claims to love local films, you’re bound to be labeled as baduy or lame. It just seems like our local films just don’t get as much love as Hollywood flicks do.

Some of the common complaints that our films get are that they’re too predictable (how many times can the guy get the girl, after all?), they’re too formulaic (remember the year when all we got were movies about mistresses?), and that they’re all romantic comedies.

But not all local films are created equal. Although we do get a lot of mainstream films whose main selling point seems to be the newest love team cooked up by our movie studios, we also get the occasional movie that turns conventional film making over its head.

See That Thing Called Tadhana for example. Even though it was branded as a romantic comedy, it wasn’t the rom-com that our local audiences were used to. It didn’t, spoiler alert, show the two main leads ending up together. Rather, it featured an open ending, leaving the audiences to wonder for themselves if Mace and Anthony eventually get together.

But what’s interesting about That Thing Called Tadhana is that it originally wasn’t meant to be a mainstream film. It first premiered at a local film festival and gained enough critical acclaim for it to be re-premiered commercially.

Despite the flack that our local industry gets, it is actually capable of producing gems like That Thing Called Tadhana, and more recently, Heneral Luna.

Most of these gems, however, can only be found in our local film festivals. Thankfully for you, we’ve rounded up a list of five of the most well-known film festivals in the country and when you can catch them in cinemas.

1. Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival

Normally shortened to just Cinemalaya, this film festival is arguably the most well known of the independent or “indie” film festivals.

Having been around since 2005, Cinemalaya is known as the birthplace of critically acclaimed indies like Ang Babae sa Septic Tank and Transit, which were both of the Philippines entries to the Academy Awards in 2011 and 2014 respectively.

You can catch Cinemalaya films in Ayala Malls and at the Cultural Center of the Philippines every August.

2. Cinema One Originals

Produced by the Cinema One channel, the Philippines’ answer to HBO, Cinema One Originals is another film festival that intends to showcase independent filmmakers’ talents.

That Thing Called Tadhana actually had its first premiere at this film festival, before going on to be released commercially all over the country.

Cinema One Originals

You can catch Cinema One Originals films at selected theatres every November. Check out their Facebook Page for more details.

3. CineFilipino Film Festival

Having been around since 2013, the CineFilipino Film Festival is focused on bringing Filipino perspectives forward through not only feature-length films, but also through short films, documentaries and television series. Notable films to come out of this film festival include Ang Huling Cha-cha ni Anita and 1st Sem.

CineFilipino 2016 happened last March 16 to 21 but keep an eye on the CineFilipino official website for when the 2017 festival will be.

4. Quezon City International Film Festival

The Quezon City International Film Festival, or QCinema for short, was started in 2013 to showcase Quezon City as the country’s main hub for television and films.

Unlike the other film festivals on this list, QCinema’s selections are not just limited to the local movie industry but it also showcases some critically acclaimed international films. Last year’s festival also had a Rainbow QC selection, which featured stories from the LGBT community.

QCinema International Film Festival

QCinema happens every October, with the 2016 edition happening from October 13 to 22.

5. Metro Manila Film Festival

Arguably the most controversial film festival on this list, the Metro Manila Film Festival, or MMFF for short is also one of the longest running film festivals in the country, having been around since 1975.

The MMFF is also the reason why our movie theatres only show local films every year from December 25 until the first week of January.

MMFF Parade of Stars

MMFF Parade of Stars | Photo from

Although the film festival has gotten a lot of flack over the past few years for only showing “marketable” films, the 2016 edition is said to be undergoing some major revamping, including a new criteria that’s said to emphasize artistic excellence over commercial viability.

Watch out for the 2016 edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival happening on December 25 until the first week of January.

What’s your favorite local film as of the moment? Let us know in the comments down below!

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About Author

Roxie Ramirez

Roxie is a 20-something writer from Manila. When she's not beating deadlines, chasing down interviewees, or out on the field, she’s looking for the best fried chicken in the Metro.