By Rexcel Sorza, IOL Correspondent

ILOILO CITY, Philippines, November 9, 2005 ( – Within efforts to empower the people of the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, a filmmaking festival aimed at nurturing the art of making films in the region is to kick off next month, with preparations gaining momentum.

The participants of the “Guerrilla Filmmaking Festival 3 ” are now busy filming their works as November was set aside for their film shoots. The participants underwent a filmmaking workshop last month (October) in time for next month’s film screenings and exhibit, Mindanao Film Congress, and Guerrilla Filmmaking Awards, according to IOL correspondent.

“The Guerrilla Filmmaking Festival was designed to help encourage, develop, promote, and nurture the art of filmmaking in Mindanao,” Dax Cañedo, owner of Alchemy of Vision and Light Productions, which organizes the event, told Wednesday, November 9.

“Ultimately, the organizers of the event wish to help pave the way for a thriving and self-sustaining film industry in the region,” he emphasized.

The opening gala will be on December 4, screenings and exhibit from December 5-11, Filmmakers on Target on December 8-9, First Mindanao Film Congress on December and Guerilla Filmmaking Awards on December 10.

In the opening gala, a documentary film entered to the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival entitled “Amuma” will be screened along with the trailers of the short films to be produced by the workshop participants. Amuma is directed by John Paul Seniel, a participant of the first Guerrilla Filmmaking Workshop, and is produced by Alchemy of Vision & Light Productions.

A forum called “Filmmakers On Target” will also be held after the opening gala. It is an open forum with the creative minds behind the short-film entries in the festival.

After a brief presentation by the panel of filmmakers, members of the press and the general public will get a chance to ask questions pertaining to their respective films.

The two-day activity will allow people to get to know the filmmakers, and discover the struggles, sacrifices, and the rewards they got from making their films.

There will also be the first Mindanao Film Congress, which will bring together filmmakers, producers, industry professionals, academic institutions, government representatives, and film enthusiasts who can contribute to the development, encouragement, and promotion of filmmaking in the region.

Being the first gathering of its type in Mindanao, the congress will provide opportunities for the participants and panelists to identify the issues that serve as a hindrance to the development of filmmaking in Mindanao. Likewise, the congress hopes to come up with resolutions that will propose specific courses of action for all sectors involved, so that the issues may be addressed.


The workshop had specially designed modules on story development, screenwriting, cinematography…etc. (Courtesy of Dax Cañedo)

Cañedo said the idea of holding a film festival was conceived in February 2003 “when it was apparent that there were no clear means for those interested in filmmaking to learn and practice the art here in Mindanao. There simply was no venue for it.”

To fill in this gap, Cañedo said his Davao-based company, which is into multimedia and digital film production, “decided to conduct a comprehensive six-module filmmaking workshop, showcase the participants’ output in the theater, then present awards for outstanding achievement for the films and the filmmakers.”

He, too, stressed, “Each year, the objective still remains, but the scope and format has now grown and expanded.”

No deadly weapon, however, is used in this “guerilla” thing as “guerrilla filmmaking” means using minimum resources and less budget than what is done in Metro Manila, where multimillion-peso commercial films are produced.

The festival, too, has helped surface the realities involving Mindanao and its people. Cañedo said the festival showcases films set in Mindanao and made by filmmakers from Mindanao. “Therefore the films in the festival show a more accurate representation of Mindanao’s rich and thriving culture.”

It has also contributed to the better understanding of the so-called “Mindanao issues” such as the Bangsamoro uprising, displacement, war, terrorism, poverty.

“Many people of all ages have seen the films in the festival. And although only a few films in the two-year-old festival have taken these themes so far, these films nevertheless have been successful in shedding light on the realities behind such “issues”, thus helping correct the common misconceptions about Mindanao and its people. And since it is an open-theme festival, it is no doubt that there would be more films in the future that would focus on these subject matter,” Cañedo explained.


In the Guerrilla Filmmaking Workshop, the participants, who have little or no experience in filmmaking, are taught the digital filmmaking process. The workshop, held in all weekends of October, had specially designed modules on story development, screenwriting, cinematography, directing, producing, and digital non-linear editing.

Cañedo defines “guerilla filmmaking” as “a filmmaking style wherein the filmmaker uses creative means to minimize the costs of production.” Guerilla filmmaking, he said, “promotes the concept of making films out of innovative technique, an undying passion, and a great story, rather than spending a huge amount of money.”

College student Moslemen Macarambon Jr. said the workshop gave him “sufficient knowledge” on filmmaking. “It will help me in my future documentation and film project about the Bangsamoro struggle and social issues concerning the Muslim ummah,” he told IOL Wednesday, November 09.