Sinag Maynila ushered in its fourth year with an intimate opening gala, held at the IMAX Lobby of SM North EDSA on March 7. The ceremony was attended by members of the press, as well as this year’s finalists. Also spotted were actor Jomari Angeles, who played Jaclyn Jose‘s youngest son in Ma’ Rosa, and actress Mara Lopez, who previously appeared in the 2015 Sinag entry T.P.O. The latter was directed by Joselito Alterejos, who is once again a full-length finalist this year for Tale of the Lost Boys. This also marks the first Sinag attendance of full-length finalist Matthew Victor Pastor, who directed Melodrama/Random/Melbourne! The young Fil-Aussie filmmaker was also a finalist in last year’s Short Film category for I am Jupiter, I am the Biggest Planet.
The ceremony began with FDCP Chairperson Liza Diño-Seguerra expressing her eagerness to see all entries. “These are the films na magiging parte po ng history ng ating Pelikulang Pilipino“, she quipped, before re-affirming her belief in the festival’s co-founders: “Naniniwala ako sa suporta ni Direk Brillante, Sir Wilson…”
In turn, the two co-founders took the stage to express their thanks. “I can’t be anymore grateful for your continuous support to the festival year after year…My special thanks also goes out to our partners and our sponsors, the Film Development Council of the Philippines, Cinelokal, Sandaan, SM Malls, SM Cinemas, and McDonald’s, Tieng said with utmost gratitude. The Solar president also expressed his optimism over this year’s roster: “We’re all excited to exhibit all the finalists in this year’s festival because, truly, these are works that we can be proud of as Filipinos. These are masterpieces in their own rights and I’m confident these films will earn recognition and critical acclaim, not only in the Philippines, but in international film festivals as well.”
Direk Brillante then thanked the artists who contributed to the festival, saying “Without your help, wala tayong festival…Alam ko isa lang ang ating advocacy, alam ko isa lang ang ating gusto nating pagtunguan, ang makilala ang ating mga pelikula, ang makilala ang ating mga kuwento, at ang makilala tayo bilang Pilipino sa buong mundo.”
The Sinag co-founders then called on UniFrance‘s Jeremy Segay to join them. The French Asian film specialist arrived the previous night to conduct a lecture on International Film Distribution Strategies as part of FDCP Talks on March 10. During the onstage chatter, Segay praised the festival’s expansion efforts, saying “…the festival is a celebration of Filipino cinema, but you made a very nice gesture to open up to international cinema and it’s very rare to show contemporary French films in this country, the Philippines.” That was, of course, in reference to Paris Prestige, a 2016 film by rappers Hamé and Ekoué, which was screened immediately after. As per Sinag tradition, the gala concluded with a gong-striking ceremony performed by none other than Tieng and Mendoza themselves (as Segay looked on in amusement). No doubt about it, Sinag Maynila 2018 is now in full swing.
Here’s our complete photo gallery: