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15 Years, And Counting: C1 Originals’ Opening Night

For 15 years now, Cinema One Originals has been a vanguard for adventurous cinema-making and storytelling. So it’s 15 years and counting—literally and metaphorically

Cineastes rejoice! It’s time for the Cinema One Originals Film Festival; and nary a year has passed in recent memory, without some controversial item coming to the fore. A few days before the festival’s opening night, and it was the fate of competition entry Metamorphosis—as the film had been Rated X by the MTRCB.


A coming of age story centered on a young individual who is in possession of two types of genitals on one body, it’s only natural that sexual curiosity would be part of the film’s “landscape.” Well, all’s well that ends well; and after some scenes had been modified, Metamorphosis was given the green light.



Evident on the face of studio head Ronald Arguelles was the relief that all eight competition films were present and accounted for, ready for their respective premieres. In the course of the short program that preceded the opening night film showing, the competition films were introduced, the directors and cast members present, ascending to the Ayala Manila Bay Cinema 7 stage. 


For the opening night, the film shown was Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse. Shot in black and white, the film is a dark, psychological journey taken by two men isolated on an island where we find the titular lighthouse. Starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, the film admittedly is a challenging festival favorite, one that won’t find easy favor with a mainstream audience.



It’s harrowing and claustrophobic—set in 1890’s New England, both Dafoe and Pattinson take on peculiar, archaic accents, talking in a very stylized manner. If you recall, Eggers gave us The Witch, and once again, this is a period film that pushes us to accept the wild and woolly premise; and rewards us by taking us on a adventure like no other.


The cinematography, the use of shadow and shading is magnificent, while the acting is top notch without going over the top (as Pattinson did to our glee as the French Dauphin in Netflix’s The King). If anything, it’s the bleak narrative and plodding plot development that may make this one for a particular type of audience.


Jericho Rosales who was sitting a few seats away from me was transfixed; possibly wondering if this kind of acting and film making could ever find a budget here in the Philippines. Regine Velasquez who stars in one of the competition films was present, with husband Ogie Alcasid and step-daughter Leila ready to lend their physical presence for support.


Jericho Rosales | Philip Cu-Unjieng
Ronald Arguelles with Ogie and Leila Alcasid | Philip Cu-Unjieng


Showing at various venues all over the metropolis, the festival runs until the 17th so head to their website to see what’s showing and where—there are so many film gems to enjoy.


A Checklist Of All The Must-See Films At The 2019 C1 Originals Festival

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A Checklist Of All The Must-See Films At The 2019 C1 Originals Festival