The Guide to Film Festivals in Manila

Everything from new indie offerings to award-winning foreign films!


( There's more to Manila's vibrant movie landscape than just regular cinema releases and the annual MMFF. In fact, you can always expect a new film festival to pop up in malls practically every month; best of all, a lot of them are pretty easy on the wallet, too! If you're looking to get a taste of all the films that Manila has to offer, read on and take notes.


Estimated dates are subject to change, depending on the film festival's rules for the year.


Spring Film Festival

Expect it on: January

Admission: Free

What to expect: To kick off a festive Chinese New Year, Shangri-La Malls plays host to the Spring Film Festival. Feast your eyes on a handful of films that celebrate Chinese culture, heritage, and stories—all in different genres, of course.


For more information, log on to the Spring Film Festival's official Facebook page.



Sinag Maynila Film Festival


Expect it on: March or April

Admission: Regular SM Cinema prices

What to expect: It probably comes as no surprise that a festival co-helmed by Brillante Mendoza will feature gritty, hard-hitting independent cinema. This 2017, they're going beyond just Feature Length and Short Films, and will also be screening Animation and Documentary entries.


For more information, log on to Sinag Maynila's official Facebook page.



The French Film Festival

Expect it on: May or June

Admission: P100

What to expect: Easily one of the most anticipated festivals of the year, the French Film Festival screens a diverse roster of the best picks that French cinema has to offer. Expect over 15 French filmsincluding Cannes winners and small indiesthat are all jampacked in just one exciting week!


For more information, log on to the French Film Festival's official website.


World Premieres Film Festival

Expect it on: June or July

Admission: P100

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What to expect: There's nothing quite as diverse as the World Premieres Film Festival, which puts the spotlight on critically acclaimed, upcoming filmmakers from across the globe. There's a little bit of everything for everyone, from Filipino classics to Asian cinema and new picks from local indie films.


For more information, log on to the World Premieres Film Festival's official website.



Eiga Sai Japanese Film Festival

Expect it on: July

Admission: Free

What to expect: Celebrate culture and diversity that only the Land of the Rising Sun can offer. The Japan Foundation curates a handful of fascinating, full-length Japanese filmsall for freeand screens them across the country and the Metro, too. You can also join seminars and workshops, as well as lectures from film directors.


For more information, log on to The Japan Foundation's official website.


Cinemalaya Film Festival

Expect it on: July or August

Admission: P100 to P150


What to expect: The longest-running and arguably most recognizable indie film festival has expanded its lineup considerably. Aside from the Main Competition and Short Film categories, you can also catch additional sections, such as Festival's Best, Asian Showcase, and Documentaries. You no longer have to troop all the way to the CCP to catch an indie film, either; there are also screenings in selected Ayala Cinemas for P150 a ticket.


For more information, log on to Cinemalaya's official website or Facebook page.



International Silent Film Festival

Expect it on: August

Admission: Free

What to expect: Think of it as a real-life throwback to the early 1900s. Much like the era of cinema that it pays homage to, the festival enlists musicians to play music that accompanies a roster of local and international silent films. Previous artists who have participated in the festival include Ely Buendia, Up Dharma Down, Basti Artadi, and more.



For more information, log on to the International Silent Film Festival's official Facebook page.


Cine Europa Film Festival

Expect it on: August or September

Admission: Free

What to expect: You don't need to book a pricey plane ticket to get a taste of European culture. All you need to do is head to Shangri-La Plaza to catch a wide roster of films from across Europe, including France, Italy, Bulgaria, Germany, Czech Republic, and Spain. The festival runs a little over a week, which is plenty of time to see over 15 European films that span across genres.


For more information, log on to the European Union in the Philippines' official Facebook page.



Asia On Screen Film Festival

Expect it on: September

Admission: P100

What to expect: Previously held in Shangri-La Plaza, the 2016 iteration of this festival was held in Greenbelt 3. No matter the venue, however, you can treat yourself to compelling and culturally significant films from Asia Pacific, including China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. You can also take part in Directors Dialogue sessions, which are open to everyone!



For more information, log on to Asia Society's official website.


Korean Film Festival

Expect it on: September

Admission: Free

What to expect: For lovers of all things Korean, this festival is a must-see. In fact, you don't even need to live in Manila to get a taste of Korean cinema. The festival is held in several major cities across the country, and screenings are on a first-come, first-served basis.


For more information, log on to Korean Cultural Center's official Facebook page.



Pelicula Pelikula: Spanish Film Festival

Expect it on: October

Admission: P100

What to expect: Movie fans in Manila have been enjoying Spanish films courtesy of Pelicula Pelikula for almost 16 years. Its roster of contemporary films aren't limited to just Spain; they also screen award-winning cinema from Colombia, Argentina, Chile, and Venezuela. Pelicula Pelikula is usually held at Greenbelt 3; tickets can be purchased via the cinema lobby or SureSeats.



For more information, log on to Instituto Cervantes de Manila's official Facebook page.


Quezon City International Film Festival

Expect it on: October

Admission: P150

What to expect: There's something for any discerning movie fan at the annual QCinema International Film Festival. Its Circle Competition showcases new indie films from up-and-coming directors, while other sections focus on specific genres such as Filipino Classics, old QCinema entries, LGBT films, Asian films, and short films. Meanwhile, QCinema also hosts a section for foreign films that have already made the rounds in international festivals, including Cannes Film Festival and Berlinale.


For more information, log on to QCinema's official website.



Cinema One Originals

Expect it on: November

Admission: P150 to P200

What to expect: Looking for some of the best local indie flicks and critically acclaimed foreign films? Mark your calendars for November. Cinema One Originals' annual roster of new, independent cinema is always something to look forward to, but keep your eyes peeled for its foreign film lineup. (This past year alone, the festival screened Pablo Larrain's Neruda, Asghar Farhadi's The Salesman, and Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World.) Don't forget to make time for their documentaries and restored Filipino classics.



For more information, log on to Cinema One Originals' official Facebook page.


CineFilipino Film Festival

Expect it on: November

Admission: P100 to P180

What to expect: CineFilipino serves as a new springboard for aspiring Filipino filmmakers. Their indie films span across genres and strike the right balance of thought-provoking yet audience-friendly. They have several categories, including Feature Length, Short Films, Documentaries, and Digital Content. (Previous iterations of the festival fell earlier in the year, but the 2017 edition will reportedly be in November.)


For more information, log on to CineFilipino Film Festival's official website.



Moviemov: Italian Film Festival

Expect it on: November

Admission: Free

What to expect: Immerse yourself in contemporary Italian cinema every November. The Italian Film Festival screens a handful of diverse and vibrant films all for free and on a first-come, first-served basis. More recently, it has begun to host Q&A sessions with selected Italian directors attending the festival.



For more information, log on to the Embassy of Italy in the Philippines' official Facebook page.



Metro Manila Film Festival

Expect it on: December

Admission: Regular cinema prices

What to expect: At this point, the MMFF has become synonymous to Christmas, as well as some form of controversy. After years of expecting Vic Sotto and Vice Ganda to top the box-office, its 2016 edition was dominated by a refreshing array of independent cinema. While it's still unclear whether the much-needed change will keep going, one thing is for sure: you can always look forward to an interesting turn of events.


For more information, log on to the MMFF's official Facebook page.


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