Sagay City emerges as filmmaking hub of Negros

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FILM FEST. Behind the scenes of “Bucket List” directed by Syra Soniega, one of the 10 entries in the first-ever Margaha Film Festival in Sagay City, Negros Occidental. Slated to open on Feb. 17, the three-day festival will feature films all written and directed by Sagaynons. (Photo courtesy of Sagay City Information and Tourism Office)

BACOLOD CITY – The City of Sagay is poised to become the filmmaking hub of Negros Occidental as it showcases the north’s picturesque seascape with the rich local arts and culture in the first-ever Margaha Film Festival.

“We encourage homegrown writers and directors to create a film depicting the Sagaynon heritage, culture, and lifestyle,” Mayor Alfredo Marañon III said on Friday.

The Margaha Film Festival or Sine Margaha is the first-of-its-kind in Negros Island. It is set along the kilometer-long shoreline of Margaha (black sand) beach of Sagay, where the home of famed visual artist Nunelucio Alvarado is also situated.

Slated to open on Feb. 17, the three-day festival will feature 10 films all written and directed by Sagaynons.

These include “Ang Inangtan” directed by Junmarl Alconga; “Bucket List,” by Syrha P. Soniega; “Damgo Ni Meme,” by Jeyannah Mae Ceferiano; “Gugmang Kinaadman,” by Jessa M. Arnado; “Paabot,” by Trini Archie Garcia; “Palapak,” by Marc Allan Paglinawan; “Paon,” by Seb Valdez; “Pinta” by Maureen D. Martin; “Sorhuano,” by Darren Joy Giganan; and “Tukar,” by Rayne Barong.

The directors, most of them first-time filmmakers, created the flicks based on the mapped heritage and cultural properties of Sagay.

They received a small seed fund from the city government to start their production last month. In December, the participating teams attended a workshop on cinematography, acting, and directing.

Marañon said Margaha Film Festival is an event that inspires collaboration, ingenuity, and artistry of the Negrenses.

“After the festival, the city government will form an organization of filmmakers in Sagay to continually hone their skills,” he added.

Entries to the Sine Margaha will be judged by Sagaynon artist Ronnie Lazaro, Cebuana actor and singer Chai Fonacier, film critic Tito Valiente, filmmaker Massah Gonzales-Gamboa, and Sine Negrense Festival director Adrian Torres.

The City of Sagay has partnered with the Film Development Council of the Philippines under the Office of the President to organize the event.

Other partners include artist group Syano Artlink, Office of 2nd District Rep. Leo Rafael Cueva, BG Connexxion and Moving Bridges Foundation, Northern Negros State College of Science and Technology, Department of Education Division of Sagay, and Kayab Films.

During the closing ceremony on Feb. 19, a total of 20 special awards will be given. Winners of first, second, and third best pictures will receive cash prizes worth PHP10,000, PHP8,000, and PHP5,000, respectively, while finalists will get PHP3,000 each.

In October last year, the city government launched the “Diri Sa Sagay Tourism Shorts Competition”, a city-wide student short film contest, with seven film entries from various schools.

Also, a film entry by Sagay-based director Mark Garcia titled “Buding — Ang Babayi Nga Naglutaw” won Best Picture in the Open Category of the Sine Negrense: Negros Island Film Festival 2019 held in September. (PNA)

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency

The Philippine News Agency is a web-based newswire service of the Philippine government under the supervision of the News and Information Bureau (NIB) of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).

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