Cinemalaya honored with 24th Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture and Community

Cinemalaya Chair Antonio O. Cojuangco helped establish the Cinemalaya Foundation in 2005 to revive independent movies and nurture young Filipino filmmakers.

3 June 2019, Tokyo. — For sparking a resurgence in the Philippine film industry, Cinemalaya Foundation Inc. was honored on Thursday with the 24th Nikkei Asia Prize for Culture and Community. Nadiem Makarim, an Indonesian who started a motorbike taxi ride-hailing application (GO-JEK), and Dr. I Chui Liao, a Taiwanese professor who first artificially bred black tiger shrimp, were recognized alongside Cinelamaya for their achievements in economic and business innovation and science and technology, respectively.

At the awarding ceremony, the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo congratulated Cinemalaya Chair Antonio O. Cojuangco for helping usher another golden age in Philippine cinema. Cojuangco shared that in 2000, the Philippine film industry, which used to be one of Asia’s most vibrant, was dying with less than 50 films produced annually. To revive the industry, Cinemalaya set up the country’s first digital film festival known as Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, centered on the belief that “cinema could enliven consciousness (malay) by telling stories in a free and independent manner (malaya)”.

Cinemalaya has since produced 145 full length films and 138 short films. It has introduced 200 talented “new breed” directors and spawned the creation of other film festivals. Viewership record at the festival was registered at more than one hundred thousand in 2014. This year will mark the film festival’s 15th anniversary.
“Cinemalaya films dared to tackle narratives, characters, and subject matter often deemed risky, volatile, esoteric and therefore non-bankable by commercial standards,” Cojuangco said. “In this age of fake news and the weaponising of social media, we offer our Festival as an alternative space for truth telling,” he continued.

Deputy Chief of Mission Eduardo M.R. Meñez (rightmost) celebrates with Chair Antonio O. Cojuangco, acclaimed Filipino directors Laurice Guillen and Carmelo “Mel” Chionglo , and Cultural Center of the Philippines Vice President Chris Millado (at the back) after the awarding ceremony.

The prestigious Nikkei awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to Asia’s development. In 1997, Professor Jose S. Maceda of the University of the Philippines became the first Filipino to receive the award. Mr. Antonio Meloto of Gawad Kalinga was honored in 2011 for his contributions to regional growth.

The prizes, created in 1996 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Nikkei’s Japanese newspaper, are awarded annually in three (3) areas of achievements: Economic and Business Innovation, Science and Technology, and Culture and Community.