LAOAG CITY  — A local bookstore Samtoy is drawing awareness about independent (indie) films in the first ever ‘Cine Ilocos Norte’ in a two-day festival here.

First in Ilocos Norte, the films shown were under the distribution of the Cinemalaya as part of its Film Congress rolling in the different parts of the country.

Gladys Foronda Diaros, Samtoy manager said that the festival aims to promote indie films to local stream as well as to help local producers.

“This is also like giving back to them because there are indie films which were taken in Ilocos Norte, and in a way it helped in the promotion of tourism in the province,” Diaros said.

The festival’s first offering to Ilocanos is the film “Kasal” directed by Joselito Altarejos, which tackles issues about the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender (LGBT) community.

“Since these films are rawer or their subjects are more realistic than those shown in the mainstream, it contributes to the public’s social awareness, especially the youth, and through this they may contribute to a better involvement in the society” said Diaros.

In partnership with the Laoag City government and the Ilocos Norte provincial government and other public and private organizations, Samtoy Bookstore and the Cinemalaya hope to make the festival monthly in Ilocos Norte to widen the appreciation of the public, especially the youth, of the local talents and artists and to draw awareness of the ‘real-life scenario’ of the society.

The first showing of the indie film this month had the Laoag City Auditorium jam-packed with students and teachers. Just after the less than two-hour film viewing, the director who was also present during the first day of screening facilitated an open forum with viewers.

The Cinemalaya is the brainchild of the Philippine Independent Film Festival which sets a competition and festival for indie films that aims to encourage the creation of new cinematic works by Filipino filmmakers.

Aside from conducting screenings on cinemas, they are also distributing indie films which are shown in the two-day film congress and conducting a forum on film-making.

In 2012, the provincial government of Ilocos Norte, upon observing a significant growth of media productions here established the Media Incentives Desk (MID) office at the ground floor of the provincial Capitol to assist film makers who are interested to shoot in the province.  PNA