Seven years ago, the National Commission on Culture and Arts’ cinema committee had the vision to enrich Philippine cinema with the largely undiscovered filmic creativity dubbed as cinemas in the region.
It is from that vision that the regional film festival of the Philippines, the Cinema Rehiyon, was born. Its initial two steps in 2009 and 2010 began in the Cultural Center of the Philippines. From there the festival travelled the archipelago, landing in Davao (2011), Bacolod (2012), moving northward to Los Baños (2013), then southbound again to Cagayan De Oro (2014). For every iteration of the festival, its organizers, shareholders, curators and filmmaker delegates have held fast to the ideal that Philippine cinema is the sum total of all cinemas in the regions.
The seven-year old festival finds itself today at the heart of Region 7, and the road to Cebu has not been without its detours. It is the first time that the Cinema Rehiyon festival is not celebrated during the national arts month when it was traditionally held every February. It is also the first Cinema Rehiyon under a new NCCA leadership and a fresh set of officers of the NCCA Cinema Committee. NCC Chairman William Mayo had a stroke earlier this year and instead of weakening the committee, it galvanized the other members to perform better. Still recovering, Direk William Mayo is here with us, gracing the event, proof of his resilience and commitment to the Cinema Rehiyon festival.
These changes notwithstanding, the commitment is still same or perhaps even more vigorous and that is to present regional cinema; a myriad of cultures in all its vibrant energy and colors, in order to cultivate a profound and enlightening vision of our multi-faceted identity as Filipinos.
Cinema Rehiyon 7 showcases 17 full-length features with 57 short films chosen to celebrate the diverse Filipino heritage and to present the discourse that cinema in the regions is national cinema. Cebu offers a unique setting because it had a vibrant cinematic scene especially in the 60’s and 70’s. It is perhaps the only region, outside of Manila that boasts of its own film making culture.
Cebuanos have lost most of its 200 or so films produced in the last decades. The screening of Badlis sa Kinabuhi as opening film in the 7th Cinema Rehiyon Film Festival is an attempt to take a glimpse at the past glory of Cebuano cinema. And for the nearly 100 delegates and guests celebrating the Cinema Rehiyon experience this 2015 in Cebu, the crossroads of the seventh art, may you all take the right path to healthy and vibrant cinemas in the regions.