Wednesday, March 17, 2010

indieSine: Quo Vadis?

The buzz these days in the independent film scene is the closure, albeit temporarily, of indieSine at Robinsons Movieworld Galleria. The unexpected closure came about after the film Last Supper No. 3 was abruptly yanked out after a day of screenings to give more screens to a blockbuster film. The indieSine theater had been the only mall-based movie house to consistently show independent films almost every week for the last three years.

The first two years of indieSine was the best in terms of programming. The price of a movie ticket was below 100 pesos. I watched an average of two films a month during the first year. Most of the 2007 Cinemalaya entries had their one-week theater runs just months after their premieres at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). It was a joy to catch up with cinematic gems. However, it was the festival screenings that brought me to cinema nirvana. Among the rare and memorable films screened at indieSine were Mike de Leon’s Signos, Manuel Silos’ Biyaya Ng Lupa, Lamberto Avellana’s Anak Dalita, and Lav Diaz’s Heremias Book 2.

Year 2009 saw me slow down on my movie watching days at indieSine. There were two reasons behind the drastic change. First reason was the price of an admission ticket had gone up to140-160 pesos. Taking a risk with an unheralded movie is no longer practical. I remember watching a gay film. It was terrible. I foreswore to keep off gay-themed movies unless they are critically-acclaimed such as Rome & Juliet.

The second reason was most of the films programmed were gay-themed movies. There was even a two-month period when I think six or seven such movies were shown. It should be noted that even UP Film Institute fell prey to this gay movie mania in 2009. An unforeseen altercation with the Movies and Television Ratings and Classification Board shook up the UP Film Institute to tidy up with their programming.

Philippine Independent Filmmakers’ Multi-purpose Cooperative (IFC) official and filmmaker Cris Pablo remarked that ‘gay films can protect straight cinema.’ The IFC even held the QueerLoveFest in February 2010 with the sole purpose of raising funds for other IFC programs, like festivals for women and human rights. Still, indieSine closed down. It will take more than gay films, even great ones, to save indieSine.

Here are a few suggestions to the IFC people:

1) Avoid programming gay-themed movies consecutively. Sure, such movies bring in the money. But, try to cater to other tastes of moviegoers

2) Improve audience numbers by cutting down the price of an admission ticket. I might take a risk with an unknown movie if the price is right. Other moviegoers may do the same

3) Elevate quality of programming. Program prominent Cinemalaya films at indieSine after their runs at CCP and UP Film Institute. With the improving quality of Cinemalaya films, majority of them deserve to be given a week-long theater run. Please, please, please don’t program cheap films made by workshop participants

4) Featured film at indieSine should be guaranteed five days of screenings (Wednesday to Sunday). Not everyone have time to catch a weekday screening

5) Manage updated online sites. Screening schedules and film information should be easily accessed by moviegoers

6) Ape guerrilla marketing strategies of UP Film Institute. Fix monthly screenings so people can anticipate their viewing days. Spread information about screenings via emails

No comments:

Post a Comment