Finding consciousness in the hums of isolation


Photo courtesy of Cinemalaya 16: Stream Consciousness

FOR EVERY great defeat comes along a greater resurgence. It may not happen tomorrow or the day after that but like every other episode in a series of unfortunate events, eventually, things will make sense and all things will come to an end.

Although it may seem that this pandemic has ended a lot of great opportunities, it is without a doubt that life must still go on. And in doing that, arduous but inevitable changes have to be made.

Despite several changes in the industry, the creative people behind the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the Museum Division, guaranteed seats for everyone as they unveiled this years’ Cinemalaya film festival.

They launched not one but two online events to celebrate the annual film festival. One of the two is Cinemalaya 16: Stream Consciousness, a virtual exhibition that was made possible even in the comforts of home.

The three-dimensional exhibition is available and free for anyone who has access to the internet. This serves as a sure treat this quarantine season for online watchers and Cinemalaya fans alike.  To top it all of, the exhibition will be open beginning Aug. 7 until the end of October this year. 

The entire setting of the show resembles an actual gallery. Aside from the fact that it’s exclusively accessible online, another atypical distinction is the manner of how a spectator ought to move from one piece to another. Unlike a typical gallery walkthrough where one can spontaneously start anywhere, the virtual exhibition works the other way around.

Photo courtesy of Cinemalaya 16: Stream Consciousness

Good thing, Kunstmatrix, the creator of the 3D exhibition, inserted a well-detailed control panel at the beginning of the tour to easily navigate the gallery without experiencing any difficulty along the way. 

Since this is just one of the innumerable new experiences this year has to offer, it’s fairly normal if one finds it challenging to use the first time around. Likewise, the whole experience may also be lacking for someone who enjoys seeing an exhibition from an arms-length distance. 

Ultimately, for now, it’s fitting to view things within the four walls of one’s home, rather than going outside where everyone is at risk of getting infected by the virus. 

Be that as it may, it’s safe to assume that carrying the heavy burden brought about by the pandemic is the least desirable thing anyone would want to keep on happening. Therefore, if one can manifest a desirable approach to life in the new normal without sucking all the joys to it, like what Cinemalaya did, then anyone can do the same.

Photo courtesy of Cinemalaya 16: Stream Consciousness

Among the nine short indie films that participated in the competition, director Carla Pulido Ocampo’s Tokwifi landed the coveted Best Short Feature Film, as well as the best Asian feature film known as the NETPAC award. It’s live awarding commenced on Aug. 12 on CCP and Cinemalaya Facebook pages, Vimeo and KUMU.

Tokwifi is a film that is both emotionally moving and socially rousing. Firstly, the story centers on a budding romance between a Bontoc Igorot who had an unusual encounter with an actress from the 1950s, who’s stuck in a television. Secondly, the film unearthed pressing societal issues that thoroughly heed for the immediate and indefinite attention of the people.  

Photo courtesy of Cinemalaya 16: Stream Consciousness

Meanwhile, the exhibition displayed the film’s official poster that is designed by Ocampo: a black and white iconic image of Ocampo herself, behind-the-scenes pictures showing the production team, and at least three-captured stills from the film.  

Photo courtesy of Cinemalaya 16: Stream Consciousness

Out of 244 entries, only 10 were able to vie for the Best Film Award. The fortunate films are as follows: Ang gasgas na Plaka ni Lolo Bert (The broken vinyl record) by Janina Gacosta and Cheska Marfori; Ang pagpakalma sa unos (To calm the pig inside) by Joanna Vasquez Arong; Excuse me, miss, miss, miss by Sonny Calvento; Fatigued by James Robin Mayo; Living things by Martika Ramirez Escobar; Pabasa kan Pasyon by Hubert Tibi; Quing lalam ning aldo (Under the sun) by Reeden Fajardo; The slums by Jan Andrei Cobey; Tokwifi by Carla Pulido Ocampo; and Utwas (arise) by Richard Salvadico and Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay.  

Photo courtesy of Cinemalaya 16: Stream Consciousness

This distant yet brief annual celebration of locally produced films is proof that there are still many other ways to make things happen. Finding these ways means utilizing time wisely to reflect and eject on what is important and what is not.  That way, as the plot thickens, what’s essential to one will gravitate to them naturally and what’s not can be easily thrown away.

Cinemalaya 16 reminds us that despite the ongoing pandemic and the limited mobility, people still have the privilege to celebrate their achievements. After all, victories are still victories, even if there is no one to witness it.

The virtual exhibition can be viewed with this link:

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