Cinematografo film festival wraps in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO — After 4 days, 26 movies, and hundreds of attendees, it was finally a wrap for the inaugural Cinematografo International Film Festival.

Filmmakers, celebrities, and their fans gathered at the AMC Kabuki theater with one purpose: to push forward Filipino and Filipino American film.

“I saw people pushing boundaries on who gets to tell stories,” said viewer Solitaire Miguel. “There’s so many different, powerful diverse stories.”

More than just a watch party, the festival was also a chance for some to feel empowered through representation.

“These are stories that don’t get to be in the mainstream, and these are the stories that may be in a lot of ways represent us in a more whole way,” said actor Sammay Dizon.

“”The Bay Area’s new dimension in entertainment? Totally tubular.”

For Filipino filmmakers themselves, it was a rare opportunity to connect with others in the same field.

“Its the first time that a lot of the Fil-Am filmmakers and Filipino filmmakers are in the room together,” said Ramona Diaz. “Being in the industry as a person of color, and that’s a common thing we have… cuz sometimes it seems like you’re going through the journey alone when you’re not, there’s a whole bunch of people feeling the same way, doing the same thing.”

While film was at its core, much of Cinematografo’s vision came to life off the screen, through both its panels and the conversations sparked amongst attendees.

“We can really hone in on the conversation for what it means for us as Filipinos, where we are, take a hard look at where we are, and try to have a menaingful conversation about how we can support where we’re going, what that’s going to take,” said actor Dante Basco.

Unlike many festivals, Cinematografo’s films did not compete for a winning title. Instead, for these filmmakers, new connections and support from fellow Pinoys in the business were the biggest prizes of the event.

“At the end of the day, the single voice was, the victory of one is the victory of all. I think Cinematografo was the start of many platforms to come for the Filipino filmmaker to shine,” said John D. Lazatin, executive director.

“Where I see the festival going is that Cinematografo becomes the brand where Filipino Americans can say I have support behind me,” says festival director Miguel Sevilla. “I’m not alone in this film journey. I’m a Filipino American filmmaker, there’s a brand that’s behind me, and that’s Cinematografo.”

Four days of film viewing and sparking new connections wrapped up right here in San Francisco’s AMC Kabuki theater. And while the inaugural Cinematografo film festival may be over, the general sentiment is clear: this is only just the beginning.

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