A Beginner’s Guide To Surviving Cinemalaya

If it’s your first time attending a film festival as huge as Cinemalaya, it can get very overwhelming, what with the varied types of tickets and the sheer number of films to watch. Don’t fret though, as sinephile.com has compiled some useful tips to make your first festival experience as smooth as possible.

The sheer amount of films and venues can be daunting for a first-time festival attendee
  1. Choose CCP over any other venue. While it’s more convenient to watch in Ayala Malls due to their location and reserved seating, I will still prefer CCP for one major reason: the energy. Some of my film friends like ex-Greenbelt loyalist misterplummy will attest that there’s just a different vibe when you’re at CCP — contagious excitement and passion that stay true to what Cinemalaya primarily is: a festival. There are three major halls — main theater, little theater, and studio theater. Try to watch in the main theater as much as you can, as it’s where gala screenings (with cast and crew in attendance) are held. Reserve going to the little theater and studio theater only when necessary to fit your schedule. For the studio theater, ensure you’re at the second level as it’s a lot more comfortable there.

    Attending at the CCP gives the most authentic festival feeling
  2. Dedicate one weekend (and a day). For hardcore fans who want to watch all films in competition, it’s virtually impossible to do so in one weekend —  a scheduling nightmare. Most people will advise skipping the shorts but not me. In my experience there are hidden gems in Cinemalaya shorts that are well worth the watch. Luckily, Cinemalaya is a lot easier to plan around than other festivals where screenings are grossly fragmented. Now, if you’re only planning to watch a film or two, I suggest you do so after the first weekend (August 6 onwards), as by that time word of mouth on the better picks would have already come up. For those who are wondering, below is my suggested itinerary that is all held at the main theater and encompasses all 12 FIC schedules.
    4-Aug Venue: CCP Main Theater
    12:45 LIWAY
    3:30 SHORTS A
    6:15 MAMANG
    9:00 DISTANCE
    5-Aug Venue: CCP Main Theater
    12:45 THE LOOKOUT
    3:30 SHORTS B
    6:15 ML
    6-Aug Venue: CCP Main Theater
    9:00 KUYA WES
  3. Buy the FIC pass if you have the budget. This is a recommendation for the hardcore. One-day passes are a bit more convenient as you could order online, but FIC passes offer considerable perks such as having access to all competition films for the whole festival and priority lanes. They can be purchased at the CCP box office for Php 2,000. It’s around Php 500 more expensive than two one-day passes, but convenience trumps the added price tag. Expect long queues if you’re getting them during the festival proper, so it’s always advisable to buy them in advance.

    Long lines are a given, especially at the main theater. This is where the FIC pass and all-access pass come in handy
  4. Consider watching other featured films. Aside from the FIC pass, there’s an all-access pass that also guarantees you priority entry to non-competing films that Cinemalaya offers as part of its exhibition. Missed the Best Picture winners of last year’s festivals? Tale of The Lost Boys (Sinag Maynila), Paki (Cinema One), The Eternity Between Seconds (Cine Filipino), and Ang Larawan (MMFF) all have scheduled screenings. There are alternative films and Asian titles in the mix too. For more information, visit the Cinemalaya website or simply get a pamphlet in the information booth at the CCP. These are usually held at the CCP Dream Theater.
  5. Attend with friends! One of the highlights of the Cinemalaya experience is being able to discuss each film with your friends after viewing. You’ll mostly have different opinions, but that’s the joy of it. I for one preferred Kiko Boksingero over Respeto last year, much to the chagrin of my companions. Predicting the winners also adds to the fun. My Best Supporting Actress pick is ALWAYS spot on, from Barbie Forteza to Yayo Aguila. Take that!

    My Best Supporting Actress bets always win! Here are Barbie Forteza and Yayo Aguila receiving their respective awards 

Aside from these, below are a few more random, practical tips:

  • Dress accordingly as CCP venues are usually cold.
  • Don’t bring heavy bags with you. You’ll most probably be moving around quite a bit.
  • Remember that there’s a regular line and a priority line. One-day passes are only part of the regular line and are treated on a first-come first-serve basis.
  • Keep in mind that signal reception is horrible inside the theaters (i believe they have signal-barring equipment intentionally).
  • Don’t worry about food and parking. Food establishments litter the CCP complex. There are even concessionaires set up near the main entrance. Lots of different parking areas around too.

At the end of the day, remember to enjoy. Be proud that you’re supporting Filipino film and are contributing to its discourse. And if you see me, don’t be a stranger and say hi! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

See you guys at the CCP!

Image credits: Unreel, Rappler, GMA

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