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At this unique film festival, the sky’s the limit

By Andrea Panaligan, The Philippine STAR Published Dec 01, 2023 5:00 am

Guided by the motto, “See what others can’t,” the inaugural Santa Maria Music and Film Festival is opening its proverbial cinema doors on Dec. 2, 2023. Audiences will be welcomed to an open-air theater atop Sierra Madre surrounded by breathtaking views of Mt. Banahaw, Mt. Cristobal, Mt. Sembrano, Laguna de Bay, and the Pililla windmills.

The program consists of seven short films from independent filmmakers based in the US and Europe. Among the titles are The Vibe Operator, about a jaded rockstar who leaves the earth for deep space, and Bitter Brownies, a dark comedy about the office lunch thief.

“As a student at Harvard surrounded by seasoned filmmakers, I felt out of place. But one professor saw potential in my fresh perspective. His belief in me changed everything. It wasn't just about honing my skills; it was about recognizing the power to ‘see what others can't,’” shares festival founder and filmmaker Jenn Maliwanag. “Our festival is an invitation—to artists to express, and to audiences to experience a world of untold stories.”

Kicking off the festival is Laguna’s own Santa Maria Academy Dance Troupe. Also performing are musicians Miro Valera and Jeff Bolivar. Free wine will be provided by Barefoot Wine & Arbor Mist.

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Tickets are free and can be claimed at Event guidelines can also be found on their website.