Sagay City’s landmark film festival turns 5

By Nanette Guadalquiver

February 27, 2024, 5:19 pm

<p>(<em>Image courtesy of Sagay City Information and Tourism Office</em>))</p>

(Image courtesy of Sagay City Information and Tourism Office))

BACOLOD CITY – Sagay City in Negros Occidental, a thriving regional film-making hub, marks the fifth year of its Margaha Film Festival with the screening of seven competing short films along the black sand beach of Barangay Old Sagay on Tuesday.

Held in line with National Arts Month, the SineMargaha, which runs until March 8, is supported by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).

Festival director Helen Arguelles-Cutillar said this year, the Margaha Film Festival delves deeper into the significance of its theme “Sine Singko,” which is a nod to the “Bidyo Singko” culture in the northern Negros city, where a simple coin unlocks the joy of music in videoke machines.

“We are transcending its value to symbolize the transformative power of art in the lives of the people of Sagay and beyond,” she said in a statement.

The seven films were all written and directed by Sagaynons, who attended a series of film and story development workshops funded by the NCCA and the city government.

The first-of-its-kind in Negros Island, the Margaha Film Festival, launched weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, is set along the kilometer-long shoreline of Margaha (black sand) beach of Sagay, where the home of famed visual artist Nunelucio Alvarado is situated.

Arguelles-Cutillar said it is a dream of Alvarado to “celebrate all disciplines of art and to have movies screened with the backdrop of the Sagay Sea.”

This year’s entries include “Aba” directed by Aljean Joulse Tagayong, which explores a girl’s psyche on whether to abort a child or not; “Bang Bang Bang Patay ka na Patay ka na!” by Thirdy Macam, which tackles the addiction of a kid to watching action movies; “Kalye Bruka” by Joan Honoridez, highlights the return of a transgender woman in a community that brought internal ills to her; and “Lampitaw (Lady of the Night)” by Kent Raven Ardeña, takes a turn on the real accounts of a comfort woman who spied against the Japanese during the World War II.

Others are “Mahanduraw ko Nimo” by Ry Cortez, which centers on a girl who stole a painting thinking that it was an image of his lost father; “Mananguete” by Mery Grace Rama-Mission, which explores the effects of dementia on a person while tackling the dying tuba-making in Sagay; and “Taga-Taga” by Trini Garcia, humanizes the romantic endeavors of two praying mantis.

Aside from the film screenings, the festival also features a talk led by the FDCP, a fluvial parade of filmmakers during the opening program, online screenings of the film through FDCP’s JuanFlix Channel, and the “Gab-i sang Pagkilala” Awards Night, with 19 awards in various categories. (PNA)