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Cinephiles, We Just Found You Your New Headquarters: The Black Maria Cinema 

The Black Maria Cinema is a hidden gem that sits in Mandaluyong's busy beating heart is where restored classics, foreign films, and many independent films go to live on after their exits from Manila's mainstream cinemas — if they even make it there to begin with.

 

 

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With a name pronounced as "Black Mariah," this cinematheque was conceptualized and brought to life by Angelo Santos, together with his sister, Pat, and wife, Sarah. As a filmmaker himself, this was Angelo's response to Manila's lack of appetite for films not under the blockbuster catergory, and his contribution to thickening the layer of Filipinos' cultural consciousness.

But please don't let it intimidate you! Black Maria is in no way a "film experts only" club. More than the people who already know the ins and outs of the art and science behind films, Angelo's target audience is the curious, the hungry for more, and the eager to learn. The more people he gets to expose to the beauty of film that digs deeper than impressive CGI and A-list casts, the better. And that audience includes you. 

 

 

Proving its necessity, the Black Maira's October 2017 opening couldn't have had better timing. News broke a couple of months later about 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival entry, Ang Larawan. The musical masterpiece that took five years to produce was pulled out of at least a dozen theaters after screening for just a day due to poor ticket sales. At the discretion of cinema owners, the Filipino movie that can rightfully call itself the first of its kind was replaced with the festival's surefire entries to safeguard profits. Ang Larawan was returned to a few cinemas only when its cast members petitioned for its return, and was eventually honored with the awards for Best Film, Best Actress (Joanna Ampil), Best Production Design, Best Musical Score, and the Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Award.

It is precisely because of instances like this that the Filipino audience can be thankful for establishments like the Black Maria that help preserve the best of the best in local and international film. Movies that would have otherwise been downgraded to an illegally downloaded torrent or camcorded video now have a fighting chance of earning the respect and admiration they deserve.

 

 

@blackmariacinema invites you to @anglarawanmusicalmovie December 25 4:30pm, 9:30pm December 26 2pm, 7pm December 27 4:30pm, 9:30pm December 28 2pm, 7pm December 29 4:30pm — SOLD OUT 9:30pm December 30 2pm, 7pm December 31 4:30pm ____________________ Ticket Price: Php 180 ____________________ Based on the screenplay by national artist Nick Joaquin, this story set before World War II in Intramuros tells of the plight of sisters Candida and Paula Marasigan, daughters of high-profile painter Don Lorenzo Marasigan. Since Don Lorenzo has not produced a single painting for a long time, the family is in financial trouble. The unmarried sisters have had to rely on their seemingly more successful brother Manolo and sister Pepang. Their siblings urge Candida and Paula to sell the house. To have a source of income, the sisters take in a boarder, Tony Javier. Meanwhile, Don Lorenzo becomes a recluse. The painter’s self-portrait fetches a high sum as it attracts the curiosity of many individuals which include pretentious art critics, bonafide journalist and family friend Bitoy Camacho, Senator Perico who asks the sisters to donate the portrait to the government and Tony who tries to convince Candida and Paula to sell it to an American. Larawan is an ode to the passing of the world of truth and beauty and a celebration of the tenacity of the spirit amidst the rise of materialism and consumerism. #blackmariacinema

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Now, when it comes to the nitty-gritty details, the cozy theater has 22 cinema-style seats, but additional chairs can be set up as needed to accommodate an 80-person audience on a busy night. And just because it's a small establishment doesn't mean that it's sacrificed the quality of the viewing experience; it's equipped with a 2K digital cinema projection, 7.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, and a 20-foot screen — specs that make every seat in the house, the best seat.

After just three months in operations, the cinema has screened films like Philippine-made Respeto, Patay Na Si Hesus, and I Love You. Thank You, as well as Vincent van Gogh mystery and biopic, Loving Vincent. Black Maria is set to show Mikhail Red's Birdshot and Thai hit Bad Genius in the days to come. 

 

 

Best of all, the cinema is right next to Santiago's, a cafe also owned by Angelo's family that serves up unique coffee blends, big and small bites, and ice cold beer — the last of which you can bring with you to your movie. 

It's time that the Filipino audience matures and develops a taste for the finer films out there. Thanks to Angelo and his family's vision, and the wonders that the Black Maria Cinema can bring, 2018 is looking like the year this finally gets to happen.  

The Black Maria Cinema is located on 779 San Rafael St., Mandaluyong, 1550 Metro Manila and can be contacted through (02) 782 4566.