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Cinema Centenario makes a mark in Maginhawa.

Maginhawa Street in Quezon City, popular for its diverse dining scene and creative environment, adds a micro cinema to its list of must-visit spots.

Formally opened in December 2017, Cinema Centenario was built by 10 individuals with different backgrounds. Freelance filmmaker Hector Barreto Calma is the brain behind Centenario, whose inspiration stems from his experience at the 10th Taiwan International Documentary Festival in 2016 where his film, Ang Mga Bulong sa Bituka ng Sta. Mesa, was invited to be a part of.

This microcinema can accommodate an audience up to 65.

One of the screening venues, Spot Huashan, an alternative creative space and movie theater converted from an old winery, gave Calma the realization that independent films need not be screened in commercial complexes. Since local independent filmmakers face challenges in the distribution and run of their films, Calma sought to create a version for the country.

'Philippine Cinema is very much alive. There are many films being made every year, we are just not aware because we don't get to watch them,' said Calma.

According to Calma, there are more or less eight local film festivals in a year, all of which produce quality films. Some of these films compete internationally and bring home critical acclaim, but screening schedules and venues for these local films are unfortunately limited.

'Hindi lahat nakakanood doon sa festival runs. Hinahanap [ng audience] [Not everybody has the chance to watch during the festival runs. The audience looks for these films].' He added, 'As a filmmaker, I know the feeling of having a movie that cannot be watched, that isn't screened. So I said, 'Let's make a movie house where we can show our films, as well as the films that our audiences are looking for but are not shown anywhere. Let's build a home where it can be watched.' That's why we established Centenario.'

'We named it Centenario, so that, in celebration of the 100 years of Philippine cinema, there's one micro cinema that was built,' explained founder and co-owner Calma.

Cinema Centenario holds film masterclasses under the tutelage of Director Raymond Red.

What to see

Cinema Centenario has an audience capacity of 65. Guests are seated on leather-upholstered wooden chairs inspired by a retro-classic theme. The lobby area has a vintage-inspired ticket booth, memorabilia from featured films, and posters signed by its actors and filmmakers.

More than just film screenings, Calma and his co-owners intend Cinema Centenario to be that space that encourages, promotes and preserves the culture of the Philippines.

'We believe that films are artefacts of history, that in order for us to learn our history, we need to study it and experience them through visuals, through intellectual understanding, and that's the space created by the film education and lectures that we organize,' Calma said.

As part of their advocacy on the advancement of Philippine Cinema, Centenario strives to bridge the gap between filmmakers and their audience by holding discussions and Q and A forums with directors or artists, as well as monthly master classes with featured filmmakers.

Centenario regularly screens quality-made Filipino films ranging from independently produced or mainstream, restored classics, short films or documentaries. The micro cinema has a minimum of 20 films in its monthly programming.

'Centenario does not just show one perspective of the Philippines. It isn't just romcom, we also show different truths about the state of the Philippines today. We show poverty films, show socially relevant films because these really happen. We make it a point to balance our programming, not just all art house films. There should also be different perspectives,' added Calma.

Micro cinemas vs streaming services

Calma admits that technology and the emergence of video on-demand platforms have helped local productions reach a wider audience. Mikhail Red's Birdshot, for example, can now be found on Netflix. However, Calma insists that Centenario, as an intimate venue, offers viewing values that can only be found in micro cinemas.

'You can have the comfort, you can have the access, pero 'yung cinematic experience, wala sa [streaming platforms] [You can have the comfort, you can have the access, but you won't have the cinematic experience, it's just not there on the streaming platforms],' added Calma. 'That's where the competition is. It's really in the's different when you watch a film collectively with strangers, that you all react at the same time. It isn't something you could easily replicate at home.'

Aside from the cinematic experience, Calma noted that film directors created their movies with the intention of showing them in larger screens. 'It's the way the directors intended their films to be shown [and that] is how we want to show them, as well.' Calma and his co-owners are not just inviting their guests to watch in their alternate movie house. They are also selling the entire experience of Maginhawa.

'It's perfect for Maginhawa to have a cinema, so that it won't just be a place for dining. It won't just be your mind that you'll feed but also your soul and your consciousness as an individual,' concluded Calma.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jul 22, 2018
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