Best Philippine Film Festivals of 2020

2020 hit the local film industry hard. What used to be 100-150 film outputs in a year over the past decade and half have been reduced to about 50 productions, with most of them released via streaming platforms as cinemas closed by the second quarter of the year.

In this tenth edition of Pinoy Rebyu polls, 35 members of the Society of Filipino Film Reviewers recognize the film festivals that were able to adapt to the new cinema-viewing experience. A total of 9 film festivals were cited by voters, including runners-up Binisaya Film Festival, Lockdown Cinema Club, Mindanao Film Festival, Metro Manila Film Festival, and Ngilngig Asian Fantastic Film Festival.

However, there were four filmfests that were consistently mentioned by voters for having delivered quality films and streaming experience:

3 (tie) – Cinemalaya Film Festival (28 points)

While a few major local film festivals announced postponements of their annual fests due to challenges posed by the pandemic, Cinemalaya was the first major filmfest to show how it can be done.

Stephanie Mayo: “Well-curated short films, organized, hassle-free streaming experience.”

Cholo Sediaren: “The best format for the digital age of film festivals, and provided a comprehensive library of shorts and classics.”

Kevin Oliver Tan: “Easy access and all films can be found in one page.”

3 (tie) – Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (28 points)

While its approximation of a physical festival through a strict film scheduling proved difficult to some, PPP satiated film buffs with the sheer amount of films (short, full-length, classics) being shown.

Terence Ang: “For having the most expansive film selection, from digitally-restored classics to indie gems that people might’ve missed out on from the past decade, streamed using the most reliable media player for a seamless and more enjoyable viewing experience”

Daph Bajas: “I liked the platform. All films have watermarks. Screenings for different locations.”

Robert Cerda: “The bundle price is worth all of the available films, features, and talks.”

James Espinoza: “Despite the organizers’ insistence on the fixed schedule of the ‘movie
theater experience’, the actual selections of short and feature films were wide-ranging and
comprehensive. Their adaptive player wasn’t half bad. More seamless than Upstream if I may say so.”

Vinson Gabato: “Because of the number of films. Though I did not like that the films had a schedule and venue where it would be shown, I think it’s ingenious. It gave the sense of being in a movie
house where you have to be early.”

Emil Hofileña: “Even with an overabundance of films and early technical issues, this year’s PPP truly had something for everyone. And if you were lucky enough to find a screening that fit your schedule, it felt just like catching a movie in cinemas, alongside a crowd of equally eager audience members.”

2 – Daang Dokyu (50 points)

The new kid on the local filmfest block was heaven-sent to documentary aficionados, screening free well-curated documentaries that included seminal films that Filipinos needed to see.

Sanriel Ajero: “It has an impressive program of important documentaries with sections ranging from Martial Law to environmentalism – free for all and with a stable streaming website that’s very easy to access.”

Armando dela Cruz: “A welcome addition to any cinephile’s yearly itinerary, Daang Dokyu unearthed titles from all over the world and different years. The programming is ideal, too, and something that other local festivals should adapt. Daang Dokyu programmed weekly, with each week having its own theme. The films are streamed on their self-hosted platform, which is already better than other festivals’ third-party-powered programming (via Upstream, Vimeo-On-Demand). Oh, and they did all of this for free.”

Princess Kinoc: “Daang Dokyu is the best Film Festival this year because they showcased a well-curated way of showcasing documentaries online, within schedule, well-catalogued as they also help out PR writers to map out a way to understand why the films were shown for that week, and included minutes per film so that we, the viewers, can arrange our schedules appropriately. Also, walang tapon sa lahat ng films na shinowcase. Award na award.”

Skilty Labastilla: “I’m a sucker for documentaries so this was the perfect filmfest for me. But the top-notch curation and easy site navigability, not to mention not having to pay anything, are what sealed the deal. Here’s hoping this will be a regular fixture in the festival circuit.”

Jay Lacanilao: “Streamed relevant and timely films for free”

Jason Tan Liwag: “For providing unparalleled access to curated documentaries – short and long – for free to the Filipino people, returning to them often-lost narratives through cinema as history, and enabling avenues by which to process these stories into action.”

Macky Macarayan: “It is a carefully curated festival that highlights the historical significance and power of the documentary form, as well as celebrates the country’s treasure trove of documentary films.”

Joker Manio: “For being a new platform that showcases the underappreciated craft of documentary filmmaking in the country”

Jim Paranal: “Documentaries are often overlooked in film festivals, especially here in the Philippines. Just like short films, documentaries are only given a limited platform. We are accustomed in watching them for free on TV. Daang Dokyu paved the way to documentaries through free online streaming. Aside from that, we get to know stories that we’re not familiar with. At first, I thought that Daang Dokyu won’t push through because initially, this was slated to have its program in March – prior to CoViD 19 pandemic quarantine. Good to know that they’re able to showcase marvelous sets of documentaries last September to November 2020.”

Nico Quejano: “Very well curated. Probably the best celebration of the centennial of Philippine Cinema; showing history in film and filmmaking in our history.”

Robin Quiñones: “(For the) variety of films, relevance, VOD format”

Jay Rosas: “The first of its kind in the Philippines, showcasing diverse films and programming; basically, elevating documentary film practice in the popular discourse.”

1 – QCinema (64 points)

What can we say? For the fourth straight year, QCinema has established itself as the filmfest to beat. While its local film grantees for 2020 were not able to finish production due to time constraints brought about by the pandemic, QCinema continued to curate acclaimed new works in world cinema and re-screened a few notable QCinema alums from the last couple of years.

Mayk Alegre: “If I’m not mistaken, it’s the first to introduce Upstream VOD streaming platform.”

Macoy Delociento: “Showcased a good selection of local and international films.”

Engelbert Dulay: “Impeccable lineup from start to end, made accessible at the comforts of everyone’s homes via Upstream. The fact that I didn’t have to travel 4 hours a day (from Alabang to QC) just to attend my favorite Filipino film festival alone is a blessing.”

Miguel Edosma: “The festival is made up of well curated films. Viewers won’t experience burnout because there is a fair number of movies per batch. And you can watch them anytime you want, plus those who brought bundle tickets get freebies!”

Cydel Gutierrez: “For pushing physical screenings in the midst of a pandemic and responsibly adhering to safety protocols.”

Fred Hawson: “Excellent international selection of internationally acclaimed films”

Wowie Lagman: “QCinema has always been consistent in the quality of its lineup of films. They’re always interesting, provocative, and, of course, entertaining.”

Nicol Latayan: “Cleanest execution of a combined online and actual film fest, decent lineup of movies, and a user-friendly, PPV format for the virtual viewing.”

Manuel Pangaruy: “For still coming up with a decent line-up despite the condition. Ticket is relatively affordable, and the platform used is easy to navigate.”

Bernard Santos: “It brought awesome international films available for screening online and mounted a special outdoor screening for film lovers to experience watching on a big screen again.”

Nazamel Tabares: “Navigation was smooth for an online film festival with variety of choices from local to international titles.”

John Tawasil: “QCinema not only gave us one of the best lineups of the year, it also thought forward with its hybrid of live and online screenings and a generous stream schedule for all concerned.”

INDIVIDUAL BALLOTS

Sanriel Ajero

1. Daang Dokyu
2. Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino
3. Cinemalaya

Mayk Alegre

1. QCinema
2. Cinemalaya

Terence Ang

  1. Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino
  2. Cinemalaya
  3. QCinema

Daph Bajas

  1. Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino
  2. QCinema
  3. Binisaya

Robert Cerda

  1. PPP
  2. Daang Dokyu

Armando dela Cruz

  1. Daang Dokyu Documentary Festival
  2. QCinema International Film Festival
  3. Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival

Macoy Delociento

  1. QCinema
  2. DaangDokyu
  3. Metro Manila Film Festival

Engelbert Rafferty Dulay

  1. QCinema
  2. Binisaya
  3. Cinemalaya

Miguel Edosma

  1. QCinema
  2. Daang Dokyu
  3. Cinemalaya

James Espinoza

  1. Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino
  2. Cinemalaya
  3. Daang Dokyu

Vinson Gabato

  1. PPP
  2. QCinema
  3. DaangDokyu

Cydel Gutierrez

  1. QCinema
  2. DaangDokyu
  3. Mindanao Film Festival

Fred Hawson

  1. QCinema
  2. Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino

Emil Hofileña

  1. Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino
  2. QCinema
  3. Metro Manila Film Festival

Princess Kinoc

  1. Daang Dokyu
  2. 2. Mindanao Film Fest
  3. QCinema

Skilty Labastilla

  1. Daang Dokyu
  2. PPP
  3. Lockdown Cinema Club

Jay Lacanilao

  1. Daang Dokyu
  2. QCinema
  3. Cinemalaya

Wowie Lagman

  1. QCinema
  2. Cinemalaya
  3. Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino

Nicol Latayan

  1. QCinema
  2. PPP
  3. Daang Dokyu

Jason Tan Liwag

  1. Daang Dokyu
  2. QCinema
  3. Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino

Macky Macarayan

  1. Daang Dokyu

Joker Manio

  1. Daang Dokyu
  2. QCinema International Film Festival
  3. Ngilngig Asian Fantastic Film Festival Davao

Stephanie Mayo

  1. Cinemalaya

Manuel Pangaruy

  1. QCinema
  2. Daang Dokyu
  3. MMFF

Jim Paranal

  1. Daang Dokyu
  2. Cinemalaya
  3. QCinema

Nico Quejano

  1. Daang Dokyu
  2. QCinema
  3. Lockdown Cinema Club

Robin Quiñones

  1. Daang Dokyu
  2. QCinema
  3. Cinemalaya

Jay Rosas

  1. Daang Dokyu
  2. Cinemalaya / Gawad Alternatibo
  3. BINISAYA Film Festival

Bernard Santos

  1. QCinema
  2. Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino 2020
  3. Metro Manila Film Festival 2020

Cholo Sediaren

  1. Cinemalaya
  2. QCinema
  3. Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino

Naz Malvas Tabares

  1. QCinema
  2. Daang Dokyu
  3. Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino

Kevin Oliver Tan

  1. Cinemalaya
  2. QCinema
  3. Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino

John Tawasil

  1. QCinema
  2. Cinemalaya
  3. MMFF

Jay-r Trinidad

  1. Lockdown Cinema Club had the biggest number of films (short or full) released. With filmmakers providing entertainment during the early stages of the quarantine. Not to mention that this was for a cause.
  2. Daang Dokyu
  3. QCinema

JT Trinidad

  1. Lockdown Cinema Club, it was able to showcase and distribute different films to a lot of people and helped the audiences cope with their anxieties during the quarantine.
  2. Cinemalaya
  3. QCinema

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