Cinemalaya Congress presents Mainstream vs. Indie: friends, enimies, or allies

The objectives of this Independent Film Congress is as follows:

  • to define the characteristics (a.k.a alternatives) and mainstream film making, and clarify the relations between them.
  • to see how indie and mainstream film making can benefit from each other of at all; and
  • to establish how each can contribute to the development of Philippine Cinema, either together or independently of each other.

On the first day, July 24, Sir Raul Sunico Ph.D. the President of Cultural Center of the Philippines stated his welcome remarks, and followed by Congress Director Nicanor Tiongson Ph.D. for the presentation of congress program and objectives (as you can read above). The keynote address was held by film maker and scholar Mr. Clodualdo “Doy” Del Mundo Ph.D. Some of his statements included the following:

  • The 1960’s cheap film producing which was the “dead film era” in the Philippines.
  • Mike de Leon’s “Itim” and “Maynila” films.
  • Gerardo de Leon and Lamberto Avellana’s “G” films.
  • Lino Brocka “do good story telling, three dimensional, make socially involved films…”
  • 1970’s Sine Manila Film Festival
  • Commercialism still prevailed in the 1970’s (e.g. the number of Nora Aunor (20) and Vilma Santos (22) films). Therefore the 1970’s  did not improve because of commercialism and the informal production of films
  • However, the 1980’s New Wave Films subsided
  • Ishmael Bernal slowdown in film making
  • Only Lino Brocka made his films until he died 1990’s, the new wave ended.
  • compromised 90’s films are even more commercialized history of footnotes, did not develop that much
  • the advent of new technologies (New wave, New Millenium)
  • Ditsi Carolino Documentaries
  • Cinemalaya started 2005, and phenomenal Independent films prevailed
  • Distinction from Mainstream and Indie: Mainstream (Generic, Commercialized, dictated by corporations, genre movies, in studio production) Independent or Alternative, (1)takes risks, (2)anything that the mainstream is not, (3)not generic, (4)can be as short or as long, (5)independent from something mainstream, (6)commercial system is not needed, (7)how to market films and build audience.
  • Build great audience, before great film” by Lino Brocka
  • (1) Appropriation then (2) Re-Invention (more exciiting, coming&changing)
  • Mainstream hopefully would see wisdom to give freedom to new film makers
  • Mainstream and Indie will remain separate. This is how should be.

The first panel included the following persons:

from UP Film Institute

 Moderator: Patrick Campos
..”Bigyan ng matalinong pelikula ang Pilipino”

translation: “Give Filipinos ‘smart’ films”




recent films produced for Cinemalaya are “Amok” (2011) and “Posas” (2012).

 Lawrence Fajardo

…..”Gagawin ko yung pelikulang para sa akin ay   gusto ko…”

trans: “I make films the way I wanted it..”





film mixer and film sound recordist

Mike Idioma

  •  “we don’t go for mediocrity, if you do film you have to do it with standards..”
  • “going to mainstream, you have money, Indie goes for socially relevant/educational films.”




journalist, and educator.

Lito Zulueta

    • “Alternative films have spirit, freedom, and independence…”
    • “for me indie is educational, and an advocacy”
    • “film makers should guard themselves from commercialism..”
    • it’s healthy to maintain terms & definitions for distinguishing the mainstream & independent films which give advocacy/freedom…”
Philippine Star, Free Press, and Twitch

Oggs Cruz

> “audience are catered from what they comprehend”

> “there are good films made from indie but they are limited to the acknowledgement they desire… we are creating a poor unhealthy cinema…”

The second panel still discussed or continued to tackle the first objectives, and they are as follows:

 Moderator: Flordeliz Abanto

 Currently a co-executive producer and co-host of Sugpuin and Korupsyon Walang Kukurap, a Catholic Mass Media Awards Hall of Fame Awardee for Radio Public Service Program and a co-production of DZRH and the CCP.


Award winning mainstream Director

Joey Reyes

> “in mainstream, you agree with the rules of the film, may pananagutan ka parin…”

> “television acting ruins an actor, because they are required to act ‘acting’…”

> “Break the film grammar, then make a new film language/grammar…”

> “the term ‘Indie’ has been misused & abused during the past time… misbranded as (1) kabaklaan, (2) mahirap intindihin…”

> “In mainstream, inaassume nila na ‘bobo’ and tao/audience.. there are also creatives who intervene in making films in mainstream, sa indie, wala, kung ano naiisip mo as film maker it happens…”

Theater and Film Actress

Shamaine Buencamino

>”it’s different if you act in camera, it’s scenes are not continues, you need to cut, retake, etc. when you’re on stage you project your emotions, but in camera you don’t show that much you hide it a little bit, mainly the camera shows it for the audience (camera angles, etc.)”

> “to be an actor/actress in mainstream, i think you basically need marketable ability, and fan base…”

> ” most of the Indie film makers love the art of film making…”

Producer of Here Comes the Bride and Ang Babae sa Septic Tank

Joji Alonso

> “more actors are valued in Independent films..”

> “I have been very fortunate, I treat all my films like my baby, I’m so involved in it…”






Glaiza de Castro

> “in mainstream, were given typical ‘tested’ roles, supporting roles, I was given a different role with Indie where in I had the chance to explore more with my acting skills…”

> “in Indie, it’s not T.V. acting, the hardest acting is not acting…”

> “bilang artista, gumagawa kayo ng karakter on your own, not just the one based on the script..”

> “indie is getting exploited by large corporations that make a Digital film subsidiary from the parent prod. company and produces cheap films and making it ‘indie’…”

For Panel 3, they tackled the second objective where you defy how Indie, and Mainstream can benefit from each other. 

Moderator: Mario Hernando, Film Critic and Journalist


Teng Mangansakan III, Moro film maker

Tammy Dinopol, Star Cinema’s Creative Department for more than 10 years.

> “mainstreams are based on consumption…”

> “i have learned to ‘live and let live’…”

Diwa de Leon, professional composer, arranger, all-around musician.

> “(1) money, (2) audience pace, largely dictates what films to make”

> “sometimes, audience doesn’t know what they want until you give it to them”, Steve Jobs.

> “audience are hungry for more…”

> “Directors are the boss in Indies..”

Executive Producer of Regal Entertainment Inc.

Roselle Monteverde

> “Indie has immersed new film makers and talents…”

> “one cannot do without the other…”





Film/Commercial Director, Writer, Producer

Chris Martinez

> “mainstream and indie are friends and allies… my enemies are hollywood films..”


The second day (July 25) started with the same topic as Panel 4 w/c was discussing how Indie and Mainstream can benefit from each other.

Cherry Pie, Jade Castro, Adolf Alix Jr., Lilit Reyes.

Moderator: Lilit Reyes, Scriptwriter and Creative Director
Palanca Award Winning scriptwriter.


Adolf Alix, Jr. , Screenwriter and Director  for Film and Television
ne of the top 20 young entertainment personalities in Hollywood reporters’ “Next Generation Asia 2010”.

Maria Isabel Lopez, former Bb. Pilipinas Universe & Award winning actress
Secretary of the NCCA Committee on Visual Arts and line Producer of Indie Films.

  • “If us actors/actresses wants the projects in indie films, we’ll do it for free..”

Cherry Pie Picache,  Award-winning actress

  • “mainstream films are income generated…”
  • “be careful not to be used…”
  • “survive the Indie film industry…”

Jade Castro, Director, Writer, Producer
founding partner for “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros”. He also teaches basic directing at Asia Pacific Film Institute.

The next Panel which is number 5 continued the discussion of the third objective. People included these ones below:

Moderator: Eduardo Lejano, head of UP Film Institute

Rolando Tolentino, dean of the U.P. College of Mass Communication

> “Logical film should be made for international attraction…”

> “the ‘boom’ continues because of the fonder…”


Lee Meily, photographer, producer, film director

> “both indie and mainstream should adapt to each other, but again it’s a question of economy…”

> “learn from mainstream and indie…”

> “(1)make is sustainable (w/ govt.), (2) develop audience, (3) digital era has come, (4) cont. making responsible films…”


Cesar Hernando, professor at U.P. fine arts and graphic design artist

  • “Indie has too low of a budget for a prod. designer…”

Jema Pamintuan, award-winning Indie film music scorer

  • “sa halip na gumamit ng western music, dapat sariling atin ang gamitin…”
  • “…the learning for this is having the freedom to make what you make…”

Tito Gloria, Advertiser, Cinematographer, Producer, Unitel Productions

> “Mainstream and Indie should cont. what they’re doing. Wag nga lang mabahiran ng mainstream ang indie… tension is good, it helps.”


Mike Sandejas, Producer, Director

> “Foreign cinema is the problem…”

> “films are commodities…”

> “Corporate policy should change…”

> Youtube Video

For panel 6, how indie and mainstream can contribute to the development of Philippine cinema discussion’s been facilitated by the following:




Moderator: Jag Garcia, Chairperson of the Digital Film Making Programming at the Dela Salle College of St. Benilde, Manila.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


 Loy ArcenasNew York based Broadway and Film Production Designer, Director.

> “Philippine National Identity is a problem…”

> “it should be found in a culture, but indie films somehow defies the Filipino-ness…”

> “why can we not put this indie films to the mainstreams, why is that the case?”
> “I believe there is an audience for it…”
> “move on from that mishmashed cultures…”
> “films were meant to do it with honesty…”

Francis Pasion, Director of  “My Binondo Girl and Princess and I”, Indie Film “Jay”

> “dapat malinaw ang intention, is it to earn? passion project? or competing films abroad…”
> “a concrete contribution is to support Philippines Films either mainstream or indie…”

> “Independent maintains its independent spirit, mainstream can help maybe through distributing to reach a wider audience…”

 Erik Matti, T.V., advertising, and film.

> “Indie has evolved its meaning…thinking beyond just the audiences get involved…”

> “everyone must think for the local audience then more to a bigger audience…”

> “we should start being global, stop being indigenous”

Raquel Villavicencio, Actress, Writer, Producer

> “Contribute in our own little way…”

> “for me, it’s to share a director’s personal vision, personal message, and vision. In a sense it’s experimental…”


Tito Valiente, public anthroplogist

> “Kung makikialam ang media they can help bring about the independent films..”
> “film is naturally international…”
> “topics have no control in mainstream…reality is limited, indie is daring”
>”there should be Audience development!”

Summary of Recommendations and Resolutions by Nicanor G. Tiongson, Ph.D. (congress director)

A. What are Mainstream and Indie?

1. Mainstream/Studio produced = market driven

  • usually big investment
  • genres and safe themes
  • filmic style: glossy, pleasant

2. Indie = vision-driven

  • usually small budget
  • no genres, any subject matter: daring, novel
  • filmic style: original, in support of vision

3. Maindie: indie for mainstream

  • indie sprint
  • mainstream appeal

B. How can each benefit the other?

1. Mainstream

  • rides on discoveries of indie
  • has trained many indie artists
  • can also exploit Indie.

2. Indie

  • can use distribution system of mainstream
  • can use machinery of studios

C. How can each contribute to development of Phil. Cinema?

1. Indie can create original films which present new perspectives, new relatives, and new filmic styles.

– but to do this, it must survive and reach audiences
– Problem of distribution:

  • use of mainstream actors
  • make good films
  • create an art house
  • create indie collective

– Problem of promotion:

  • promotion in schools
  • use of social network

2. Indie and Mainstream must build audiences for Phil. films.

  • through schools
  • through media

3. Indie and Mainstream must unite against a common enemy: foreign films

  • lobby group for laws to help film industry or lowering taxes
  • bigger support for film makers.


So there we go, that’s to sum up this year’s congress. Up next, gala screenings of  “Ang Katiwala”, “Kalayaan”, “Ang Mumunting Lihim”, “Sta. Nina”.




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