Filipino indie filmmakers have been fighting the good fight against commercial-studio control and Hollywood-blockbuster domination.
They have been sharpening their craft and are now standing on the cutting edge of international cinema, screening their stuff and winning awards in film festivals from as far afield as Amsterdam, Berlin, Bogota, Busan, Cannes, Manhattan, Vancouver and Venice. Once sidelined in their own country’s movie theaters, indie filmmakers are slowly being recognized as unsung heroes advancing the Filipino cause through their works, whether full-blown features or shorts, fiction or documentary.
In 2010, this newspaper inaugurated its own celebration of this cinematic creativity with the establishment of the Inquirer Indie Tribute; it recognized 25 filmmakers on its 25th anniversary. Now on its third year, the Inquirer Indie Tribute—fittingly renamed the Inquirer Indie Bravo! awards—has become a yearend gathering and recognition of the indie film community’s best.
The Indie Bravo! awards continues to be an advocacy of the Inquirer Entertainment section in particular and the Inquirer in general. (This is where “indie filmmakers have found a home” is how Entertainment editor Emmie G. Velarde put it.) From the first year, it has been an occasion to assemble the filmmakers, indie supporters, and leaders of the influential industry agencies such as the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, and the Optical Media Board. It has also been the perfect venue to gather the movers and shakers of the local film festivals which have done much to promote the indie cause, such as CineMalaya, Cinemanila and Cinema One Originals. Out of these gatherings have come promises of support and statements of admiration. “The solution is for the movie industry to reinvent itself,” MTRCB chair Grace Poe-Llamanzares has said, noting that the indie filmmakers were “paving the way toward the reinvention of the Philippines.”
The Indie Bravo! awards has also served as a reunion of members of Filipino film royalty, where Nora Aunor, for example, can touch base with old friends like Fides Cuyugan-Asensio (who was a judge on “Tawag ng Tanghalan,” the TV talent show that launched Aunor to stardom). It has feted luminaries of different generations (Eddie Garcia, Anita Linda, Eugene Domingo and Jaclyn Jose, among others). It has remembered film artists who have passed away (directors Celso Ad. Castillo, Marilou Diaz-Abaya and Mario O’Hara in 2012 alone), and honored trailblazers such as Nick Deocampo, Roxlee, Butch Nolasco, Kidlat Tahimik, Ditsi Carolino and Mike de Leon.
And the Indie Bravo! awards has given fitting recognition to the emerging talents of the indie movement. The awardees represent an alphabet of our best and brightest: Adolfo Alix Jr., Alemberg Ang, Loy Arcenas, Ferdinand John Balanag, John Balang, Ato Bautista, Benito Bautista, Jade Castro, Mario Cornejo, Med de Guzman, Khavn de la Cruz, Lav Diaz, Pepe Diokno, Will Fredo, Rico Maria Ilarde, Jeffrey Jeturian, Monster Jimenez, Ralston Jover, Jun Robles Lana, Jet Leyco, Raya Martin, Chris Martinez, Erik Matti, Brillante Ma. Mendoza, Ron Morales, Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil, Francis Xavier Pasion, Ellen Ramos, Jon Red, Raymond Red, Marlon Rivera, Eduardo Roy Jr., Sherad Anthony Sanchez, Mike Sandejas, Vincent Sandoval, Auraeus Solito, Milo Sogueco, Jerrold Tarog, John Torres, Paolo Villaluna, Alvin Yapan and Remton Siega Zuasola. Collectively, they represent the diversity and the promise of Filipino cinema as it is now and yet to come.
Consider the Indie Bravo! awards as this newspaper’s meaningful way of honoring the future of Filipino filmmaking. “[We] will continue to support your artistic endeavors,” Inquirer Chair Marixi Rufino-Prieto said in her remarks at the inaugural tribute. “We will continue to applaud your victories and we will encourage you to further express your own artistry and show the world what the real Filipino story is all about.”
Bravo then to the indie honorees. We await the films to come, the bleeding edge of the Filipino imagination, our part of the big picture. “This is just the beginning,” director Solito said in a speech. “After the indie revolution, the next step is evolution for we are on the verge of something great.”