BAY AREA film enthusiasts and theatergoers are in for a treat from November 9 to 12 as the Cinematografo International Film Festival (CIFF) takes place at the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8 Theatres in Japantown in San Francisco.

The CIFF is a project of ABS-CBN International. The festival is named after “Cinematografo,” which was the first movie theater in the Philippines that opened in 1897.

Cinematografo International Film Festival, whose Executive Director is John-D Lazatin and Festival Director is Miguel Sevilla, will feature full-length films, shorts and documentaries, aside from industry panels that Lazatin and Sevilla hope will bring exciting interaction among artists, filmmakers and the audiences.

In creating the CIFF, Lazatin said that his main objective was to give Filipino filmmakers and artists the opportunity to have their works showcased in the international stage. While claiming to not be the first to do this, Lazatin said that, “it feels good to be among the few” who are able to give this chance to Filipino and Filipino American filmmakers.

According to Lazatin, who is ABS-CBN Global Head of Film Distribution Theatricals and North America Production, “the CIFF is your first date with the Filipino storyteller. And where best to have this first date but in the city that breathes diversity – right here in San Francisco where the sights, sounds, smell, textures and tastes form an energizing cultural, multidimensional kaleidoscope. To reflect that living diversity, the film selection and content creators were combined to yield a flavorful, tasty cinematic mix with enough harm, intrigue and mystery so moviegoers end up with a unique experience.”

“In short, Cinematografo is pretty much like eating balut which would be a one-time exotic adventure or a favorite snack. Whichever it is, it’s guaranteed to be unforgettable,” the CIFF 2017 Executive Director said.

Sevilla stated that many of the films featured in the CIFF 2017 reflect the social issues, struggles and current state both in the Philippines and the United States as shown through the eyes of the filmmakers.

“As Duterte’s grasp on the Philippines tightens, the Trump era casts a shadow on U.S. Filipino Americans as one of the minority groups who are directly affected by Trump’s policies and general attitude towards immigration,” Sevilla said.  “…Two countries, an ocean apart and long-time allies, have now reached a turning point in their respective histories. It is almost irresponsible, nay impossible, to celebrate Philippine cinema, the Filipino and the Filipino American and not recognize how these issues have permeated our art and storytelling. More and more, in this era of fake news and alternative facts, we are now looking to movies as a source of truth.”

According to Sevilla, it is through the festival that “we are giving a platform and support to Filipino-American filmmakers to tell their stories through the eyes of an individual belonging to two nations.”

Olivia De Jesus, Managing Director for North America of ABS-CBN International, said that the company’s main purpose of establishing the CIFF is to increase the amount of cinematic material available to customers, thus broadening the market and helping make inroads on audiences for Filipino and Fil-Am films.

“In the end, our goal is to help create a productive dialogue between Hollywood and the diasporic film festivals so that we help migrate truly high quality cinematic content from brilliant Filipino and Filipino-American filmmakers from the peripheral communities right into the heart of mainstream cultural life,” De Jesus added.

For his part, ABS-CBN Chief Operating Officer Rafael Lopez said that the CIFF “is a platform for Filipino and Filipino-American filmmakers to visually express transnational encounters and intercultural perspectives.”

“I’ve always believed that films are powerful conveyors of culture – the norms, values, icons, symbols and expectations are captured and articulated in a compelling form of entertainment,” Lopez stated. “When moviegoers leave the theaters, we provide them with a little more understanding of who we are or we trigger a curiosity or hunger for them to know and learn more about our culture and all its complexities and nuances. And if all these translate into more conversations about Filipinos and into a more positive attitude towards them, then the mission of ASB-CBN burns brightly in Cinematografo.”

CIFF 2017 brings to the Bay Area 23 films, shorts and documentaries, including “Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left),” “Ang Larawan (The Portrait),” “Apocalypse Child,” “Birdshot,” “Curiosity, Adventure & Love,” “Distance,” “Flip The Record,” “Give Up Tomorrow,” “Life Is What You Make It,” “Mga Gabing Kasinghaba Ng Hair Ko (Those Long-Haired Nights),” “Motherland,” “Out Run,” “Paglipay (Crossing),” “Patay Na Si Hesus (Jesus Is Dead),” “The Pleasure of Being Served,” “The Ride,” “Sana Maulit Muli (Hopefully Once More),” “Saving Sally,” “Sunday Beauty Queen,” “What Home Feels Like” and “Yellow Rose.”

CIFF 2017 also brings Cinematografo Originals, an incubator program for Fil-Am filmmakers started by ABS-CBN International to help discover emerging talent and share co-production resources, creative and technical support for the art, and financing and international distribution of storytelling through film.

Lazatin shared that a call for submissions by ABS-CBN to Filipino and Fil-Am filmmakers in 2016 yielded many entries, three of which were greenlighted for production. HP Mendoza, Loy Arcenas and Francis dela Torre will grace the festival and feature in panels where they will preview their new films and co-productions with Cinematografo Originals.

Other industry panels at the CIFF 2017 include other filmmakers and industry guests, including festival director/film publicist David Magdael, San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi, film/music producer Santhosh Daniel, PBS series producer Carmen Vicencio, producer/programmer Ernesto Foronda, filmmakers Marty Syjuco and Michael Collins, and New Zealand’s Alex Lee and Dan Shanan. Director Olive Lamasan and Gerado Calagui, musical composer Ryan Cayabyab, actress Rachel Alejandro, and Star Creatives COO Malou Santos are also expected to attend the festival.

Aside from industry panels, CIFF 2017 features a tribute to documentary filmmaker Ramona Diaz, whose latest award-winning film “Motherland” will be screened. “Motherland” is Diaz’s film on one of the world’s largest maternity wards located in Manila, Philippines. The film’s screening will be followed by an intimate conversation about her work and prolific career as one of the most renowned Asian women documentary makers in the field today. Diaz’s other films, “Imelda” and “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey” will also be shown at the festival.

Cinematografo International Film Festival is a four-day event that opens with “Ang Larawan (The Portrait)” on November 9.

Here is a complete schedule for the films and panels for CIFF 2017:

Thursday, November 9

• “Ang Larawan (The Portrait),” 6 p.m., Kabuki 1

Friday, November 10

• “Imelda,” 11 a.m., Kabuki 6 [Q&A with Ramona Diaz after screening]

• “Birdshot,” 1:30 p.m., Kabuki 5

• “Out Run,” 1:45 p.m., Kabuki 6 [Q&A with S. Leo Chiang & Johnny Symons after screening]

• Panel: State of the Nation, 4 p.m., Kabuki 5

• “What Home Feels Like,” 4:15 p.m., Kabuki 6

• “Give Up Tomorrow,” 5:45 p.m., Kabuki 5 [Q&A with Marty Syjuco  & Michael Collins after screening]

• “Mga Gabing Kasinghaba ng Hair Ko (Those Long-Haired Nights),” 6:30pm, Kabuki 6 [Q&A with Gerado Calagui after screening]

• An Evening with HP Mendoza, 8:15 p.m., Kabuki 5

• “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey,” 8:30 p.m., Kabuki 6

Saturday, November 11

• “Saving Sally,” 11 a.m., Kabuki 6

• “Patay Na Si Jesus (Jesus Is Dead),” 11:30 a.m., Kabuki 5 [Q&A with writer after screening]

• “Paglipay (Crossing),” 1 p.m., Kabuki 6

• Panel: The Minority As The New Majority, 1:30 p.m., Kabuki 5

• “Apocalypse Child,” 3:05 p.m., Kabuki 6

• “Mga Gabing Kasinghaba ng Hair Ko (Those Long-Haired Nights),” 3:15 p.m., Kabuki 5 [Q&A with Gerado Calagui after screening]

• An Evening with Loy Arcenas, 5:10 p.m., Kabuki 6

• “Curiosity, Love & Adventure,” 5:15 p.m., Kabuki 5 [Q&A with Sunshine de Leon and producer after screening]

• “Motherland,” 7:30 p.m., Kabuki 5 [Panel: A Tribute to Ramona Diaz follows the screening]

• “Sana Maulit Muli (Hopefully Once More),” 8 p.m., Kabuki 6

Sunday, November 12

• Panel: Up-and-Coming Projects and Collaborations, 11 a.m., Kabuki 5

• “Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left,” 11:30 a.m., Kabuki 6

• Featured Short Films: Bianca Catbagan’s “Supermodel” and Melanie Lim’s “Anito; Selected Short Films: “Distance,” “Flip The Record,” “Life is What You Make It,” “Pleasure of Being Served,” “The Ride” and “Yellow Rose”, 1:15 p.m., Kabuki 5

• “Sunday Beauty Queen,” 3:45 p.m., Kabuki 6

• A Conversation with Francis dela Torres, 4:15 p.m., Kabuki 5

• “The Ghost Bride,” 6 p.m., Kabuki 5

For more information on the 2017 Cinematografo International Film Festival, including the films being screened and ticket prices, visit

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