Second Annual CINEMATOGRAFO FILM FESTIVAL 2018 returns November 8 – 11 to the AMC Kabuki 8 in San Francisco

ABS-CBN is proud to announce the complete lineup of the 2018 second edition of the Cinematografo International Film Festival. Events will return to San Francisco NOVEMBER 8 – 11 at the AMC Kabuki 8 in San Francisco’s Japantown.

Opening Night:  SIGNAL ROCK
San Francisco Bay Area Premiere

The second edition of the festival will kick off Renowned Filipino auteur Chito Roño’s SIGNAL ROCK, the official submission from The Philippines for Best Foreign Language Film at the upcoming Academy Awards®. The film tells the story of Intoy (Christian Bables) who is left to care for his parents when his sister moved out to work overseas. He calls the remote island of Biri his home, wherein the only way he could contact his sister and the outside world is by taking his cellular phone and going up the strange rock formation known as “signal rock”. Roño and Bables are expected to be in attendance for the U.S. premiere of the film.

Following the screening, guests will toast to the festival at the Opening Night Party at the Omni Hotel in Downtown San Francisco.

Centerpiece: THE DEBUT Turns 18!
Special Anniversary Edition

Cinematografo is proud to launch the 18th anniversary screening of THE DEBUT, the first known Filipino American feature drama produced in the U.S., as the Centerpiece presentation. Gene Cajayon’s seminal film tells the story of teenager Ben Mercado (Dante Basco) who rejects his Filipino heritage. His contentious relationship with his immigrant father Roland comes to a head at his sister Rose’s 18th birthday party. In the span of one night, he comes to terms with his identity, heritage and what being a Filipino-American is all about.

Director Gene Cajayon and the cast are expected to attend. Preceding the program is a bonus screening of THE LITTLE FILM THAT COULD, a short documentary shot in 2001 that tracked the life of THE DEBUT as it toured on-the-road around the U.S. The film was opening night presentation at both CAAMFest (known as SF International Asian American Film Festival) and Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 18 years ago. Both CAAM and Visual Communications (being honored this year in a tribute; please see below) are co-presenters of the return of THE DEBUT.

Closing Night: A LAND IMAGINED

Cinematografo, true to its theme, is breaking down its programming walls to expand its reach beyond the borders of the Philippines and the U.S. As the second edition of the festival comes to a close, Cinematografo will look to expand its borders with films from outside the Philippines and from emerging filmmakers from across the world. As such, the festival will close with A LAND IMAGINED, winner of the top prize at the 2018 Locarno International Film Festival. The Singaporean drama, examines the flight of migrant workers in a foreign land.

After a construction accident, a lonely worker from China goes missing at a Singapore land reclamation site. An insomniac police investigator tracks down the mystery of the missing migrant only to uncover more than he bargained for.

A LAND IMAGINED is preceded by the new documentary from New Zealand OBRERO by Norman Zafra.

Tribute to Visual Communications

As the Los Angeles-based media arts organization prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in just over a year, Cinematografo is thrilled to honor VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS for its significant, lasting contributions to Filipino-American and Filipino culture and communities everywhere.

Visual Communications’ mission is to develop and support the voices of Asian American and Pacific Islander filmmakers and media artists who empower communities and challenge perspectives.  Founded in 1970 with the understanding that media and the arts are powerful forms of storytelling, Visual Communications creates cross cultural connections between peoples and generations. VC’s programming includes: the annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and year‐round screenings and exhibitions; the Armed With a Camera Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists; the Digital Histories media production and storytelling project for older adults; and C3: Conference for Creative Content. The organization is also home to the VC Vault, one of the largest photographic and moving image archives of Asian Pacific experiences in America.

Visual Communications amplifies the stories of AAPI communities, including championing Filipino and Filipino-American films and media.  In five decades, VC has produced classic works such as Linda Mabalot’s Manong (1978), Planting Roots (1984), Ugat Pilipino: Filipino Roots (1994).  Through its annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, VC has created a space to showcase films such as Lino Brocka’s Bayan Ko, Gene Cajayon’s THE DEBUT, Ramona Diaz’ Motherland, and recently, PJ Raval’s CALL HER GANDA.

This FREE PROGRAM honoring VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS includes a surprise SHORT FILM PROGRAM and HIGHLIGHTS of the media organization’s past five decades.

Cinematografo Originals
COMPLETED FILMS Special Programming
Feature and Short Film Co-Production Initiative
Presenting three feature films that were developed and co-produced through the inaugural initiative of Cinematografo Originals will be presented at this year’s 2018 festival:

H.P. Mendoza, 2018, USA, narrative

MIRADOR (Sneak Preview)
Loy Arcenas, 2018, USA, narrative

THE TRADE (Sneak Preview)
Francis dela Torre, 2018, USA, narrative

Cinematografo Originals
(by invitation; not open to the public)

Feature and Short Film Co-Production Initiative
Cinematografo Originals is the festival’s initiative to discover, develop, nurture, co-finance, co-produce and showcase original films by emerging filmmakers.

Cinematografo Originals Pitch & Presentation Panel
Presenting new film projects currently in production, three co-produced by Cinematografo Originals; additional surprise projects will be announced at the beginning of the program during which industry and potential distributors will have an opportunity to discover new films coming down the pipeline.

Additional Panels & Conversations

New panels for 2018 include: impact that Filipino-American films and makers continue to have on the political and social landscape of the world — including discourse on women filmmakers of color, leadership, colonial and economic powers, climate change and ties between Asia-Pacific Island nations and cultures.

Forum Discussions
(open to the public FREE of charge, but ticket required)

Storytellers, Engagement, Global Impact
The screening of CALL HER GANDA will be followed immediately by a topical, dynamic PANEL DISCUSSION with its filmmakers (PJ Raval, Marty Syjuco), and joined in a conversation by the makers of other films that have recently ignited political and social storms: GIVE UP TOMORROW (Syjuco, Michael Collins) the Emmy-nominated 2011 film about the explosive trial of accused murderer Paco Larrañaga in the Philippines that has recently surged on several million social media circuits, creating renewed political interest in the case; DISINTEGRATION 93-96 (Miko Revereza), the cinematic, intimate visual essay about the filmmaker’s life as an ‘illegal alien’ observing his own personal disintegrating traditional family model. The filmmakers will shine some light on their recent Filipino and Filipino American films that have made considerable impact on the socio-economic and geopolitical landscapes of the world. Whose voices are shouted from rooftops – who listens, who takes action – and whose lives are impacted?

Panel: Rewriting (Her)Story
Join us for a conversation on women of color in film and how the industry has changed in the past year. We move past gender politics and listen to personal stories of women on the ground whose struggles, until recently, have largely gone unnoticed. Diane Paragas, Zorinah Juan, Jess dela Merced and other women filmmakers will share their their views, challenges and accomplishments.
Shorts Programs

The festival will present the following short programs that showcase a full, dynamic diverse range of stories from the Filipino diaspora around the world.

  • FILIPINX: LGBT/Queer Shorts (Total Program 107 min.) Showcasing diverse, tender, painful stories within the Filipinx and Filipinx American communities around the world, these films provide intimate looks into Queer Filipino life and love at all stages.


  • BY WAY OF AMERICA (Total Program 84 min.) Seven films from a variety of genres explore the daily lives of Filipino Americans and their personal experiences across evolving, modern, and often conflicted societies. Often hilarious, irreverent and occasionally heartbreaking, these gems hail from promising young storytellers, an emerging generation of Filipino-American talent not to be missed.


  • FROM THE MOTHERLAND (Total Program 87 min.) A diverse cross section of resilience, strength, compassion set in the Philippines showcase the lives and struggles of Filipinos living in a country grappling with change. This collection of work gives a rich voice to filmmakers confronting these issues in ways both touching and meaningful.

Additional Highlights

YIELD, a stunning, new ethnographic documentary by Victor Tagaro, Toshihiko Uryu, Philippines and Japan co-production.

Mikhail Red’s neo-noir thriller NEOMANILA, set in the in underbelly of Manila along the backdrop of President Duterte’s war on drugs.

RESPETO, a politically charged hip-hop mashup, filled with dazzling musical scenes and astute social commentary.

CALL HER GANDA PJ Raval’s latest award-winning documentary that galvanzies a political uprising through the story of a trans-woman murdered by a U.S. Marine just beyond the walls of an American military base in The Philippines.

THE CLEANERS, Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck riveting portrait of the anonymous men and women in Manila who scrub the internet of obscene content.

CHEDENG & APPLE by Fatrick Tabada, a sold out hit at Frameline42 LGBTQ Film Festival – about two elderly, wise, willful women who take control of their lives and go on a poignant, hilarious road trip.

Building on Cinematografo’s First Edition 2017

Its successful inaugural year exceeded organizers and public expectations, showcasing more than two dozen independent and international films, feature-length and short-subject docs and narratives from the U.S. and The Philippines, hosting more than 40 filmmaker and industry guests from N. America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region –  and turning the spotlight on Filipino-American filmmakers through its co-production initiative, Cinematografo Originals.

A dynamic model of original film content developed and produced as a ‘Cinematografo Original,’ H.P. Mendoza’s newest feature BITTER MELON was platformed at one of several industry-focused workshops, pitch sessions and work-in-progress previews during the festival’s first edition, and recently premiered at CAAMFest 2018, followed by OutFest in July. CInematografo 2018 is pleased to bring the film back to SF for an encore screening in this year’s edition.

Other highlights from the festival’s first year included the U.S. Premiere of Loy Arcenas’s grand musical ANG LARAWAN (The Portrait) and acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ramona Diaz being honored with a tribute and retrospective of her work including her latest award-winning doc MOTHERLAND.

A who’s who of Filipino, Filipino-American and Asian-American industry and filmmaker guests attended last year’s edition for screenings, industry panels, parties and pitch-presentations, and many are expected to return for the 2018 edition. They include: publicist and awards consultant David Magdael, Executive Director of Visual Communications Francis Cullado, producer and Sundance Film Festival programmer Ernesto Foronda, American Reframed series producer Carmen Vicencio, and film execs Malou Santos, Olivia Lamasan and Olivia de Jesus. Invited guests for 2018 include US and international filmmakers, industry tastemakers, distributors, film programmers and broadcasters.

About Cinematografo
The festival is named after ‘Cinematografo’ — the first movie theater in the Philippines, that opened in August of 1897. From this grand establishment was born a rich heritage of celebrating films and the venue introduced Filipinos to the custom of going to the movies. The new film festival in San Francisco aims to continue this tradition wherever Filipinos may be, and intends to draw in a wider audience of Asian American and independent cinephiles and movie lovers across the San Francisco Bay Area and internationally.

Cinematografo Originals
Delivering on its unique vision of ‘elevating talent’ to the international stage, the new banner was created to discover, develop, nurture, co-finance, co-produce and showcase original films in all genres. What started as a platform to discover Filipino-American filmmaking talent has now evolved into supporting all emerging filmmakers regardless of race, belief or ethnic background.

ABS-CBN International
ABS-CBN International was founded in the U.S. in April 1994. Based in Daly City, California (San Francisco Bay Area), its flagship product, The Filipino Channel (TFC), made it the first and most successful Filipino content distribution company in the U.S. The company offers original Filipino content on cable, satellite, online audio and video streaming, IPTV, On Demand, live events, theatricals, retail, money remittance and cargo services, along with philanthropic support for Filipinos and the communities they now call home.

For Publicity and Press Inquiries, please contact: Larsen Assoc. in San Francisco who is handling international, national and SF/Bay Area publicity and public relations.