Since its inception five years ago, Cinema Rehiyon has always remained steadfast to its vision of strengthening the presence of regional films in the national film consciousness. The festival is a showcase of various strands of narratives that tell the diverse and vibrant culture distinct to the regions. The festival also challenges the Manila-centric view on films, both in mainstream and independent industries.
The flagship project of the Cinema Committee of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Cinema Rehiyon is an annual non-competition film festival that showcases works of filmmakers from various regions in the Philippines. It is held every February as part of the Philippine Arts Festival conducted in celebration of the National Arts Month.
According to NCCA Cinema Committee Chair Dr. Miguel Rapatan, telling stories from home is “perhaps one among the best reasons for holding Cinema Rehiyon.” He also said that the festival is a venue to “share with each other our films about the milieus close to our hearts.”
In 2009 the first Cinema Rehiyon was held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Revolving around the theme Alternativo: Films from the Other Philippines, the festival’s first edition had entries from Bacolod, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, and Naga.
Still carrying the theme Films from the Other Philippines, a second edition was held in 2010 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The festival expanded and featured over 70 short and full-length films. The 2010 edition included entries from Bohol, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Samar, and Calabarzon.
After the success of the first two editions, there was no doubt that the festival is here to stay. The third edition in 2011 was pivotal on two counts—it was the first time that the festival journeyed out of Metro Manila and went to Davao, the first time it was held in the regions. The organizers decided to adopt a new tagline, Forging Philippine Cinediversity, to represent, in the words of Teddy Co, festival programmer of Cinema Rehiyon 3, “the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-cultural facets of these films.”
Cinema Rehiyon 4: Bacollywood in 2012 had the theme Empowering Regional Cinema and had two distinct features—the holding of Cine de Barrio which brought films to public spaces, and the showcasing of various video art installations featuring contemporary works of video artists from different parts of the country.
For its fifth year, Cinema Rehiyon journeys to Los Baños, Laguna. This year’s festival showcases the biggest number of films to date—17 full-length and 71 short films—that will be screened in two venues. The number of delegates consequently increased as well; Los Baños will temporarily be home to close to 90 delegates and guests.
Cinema Rehiyon Los Baños 2013 continues the festival’s tradition of featuring the best films produced outside of Manila and offers a new experience of watching them in a quiet university town outside the city.
Like any other program, the fifth year of Cinema Rehiyon is a milestone that in itself is a cause for celebration. The fifth edition of Cinema Rehiyon in 2013, with the idyllic town of Los Baños as host, celebrates the realization of a vision by the Cinema Committee of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. A vision that highlights stories from home, a vision that, perhaps (not) deliberately, aimed at redefining the concept of a ‘national cinema,’ a vision that has now caught fire and is being spread by other institutions and organizations.
Cinema Rehiyon 5, while continuing to promote films from the regions, will strengthen the presence of regional cinemas in national film consciousness, a presence that was established successfully through the previous editions of Cinema Rehiyon. In the first two years, the festival’s presence was established as an alternative to the independent filmmaking centered on Manila filmmakers. The third year highlighted the diversity of our cinematic imaginations, while the 2012 edition asserts the empowerment of the regional cinemas.
For its fifth year, Cinema Rehiyon is steadfast in its commitment to nurture our cinemas of home, wherever that might be and however one defines it. The ambiguity of the term allows it to be inclusive of various expressions of our diverse cultures in cinematic form. Proof of this variety and diversity is the big harvest of films from the regions produced in 2012 that will be showcased in Cinema Rehiyon Los Baños 2013 in two venues, a first in the festival’s history.