20 Years of Celebrating Mindanao Cinema

Mindanao Film Festival through the years…


Guerilla Film-Making Workshop Poster

The Mindanao Film Festival started out in 2003 as the “Guerilla Film-Making Festival”, a showcase of films from the Guerilla Film-Making Workshop. Films were screened in the Gaisano Mall of Davao cinema.

A newspaper advertisement promoting the workshop and festival.

Predating Facebook and other popular social media platforms nowadays, the workshop and festival were promoted in newspapers and radio.

Participants went through an intense 6-day filmmaking crash course.

Festival and Awards

Lorena Sullano

Best Actress winner for the film “Torture”, is currently a co-festival director of the 20th Mindanao Film Festival.


The film “Torture”, directed by John Paul Seniel, ended up sweeping all awards.

Director Nae Ann Espinel

A Tagum City native, and her team from Holy Cross of Davao College won Best Documentary.


Guerrilla Filmmaking Workshop 2 Poster

Guerrilla Filmmaking Festival 2 Poster

Workshop: Filmmakers in the Making

Press Conference: Filmmakers on Target


Guerrilla Filmmaking 3: The Mindanao Film Festival Poster

In 2005, the annual event started calling itself the “Mindanao Film Festival” as it opened the theatrical screening and awards to films not just from the Guerrilla Filmmaking Workshop, but to other Mindanaoan films as well.

Guerrilla Filmmaking Workshop 3 Poster

The “guerrilla filmmaker” found in the posters is modelled by none other than Mindanaoan filmmaker, Bagane Fiola.

Film Posters of The Mindanao Film Festival 2005

With six short films from the 1st Cinemalaya Film Festival included in the program, this year saw the first time that non-Mindanao films were showcased in the Mindanao Film Festival.

Presscon: Filmmakers on Target

Peque Gallaga, one of the festival jurors, answers some questions during the press conference.

Theatrical Screening

Peque Gallaga attending the theatrical screening.

Awards Night

The team from Holy Cross of Davao College wins Best Documentary Film


Wins the Audience Choice Award

Director Maryo J. Delos Reyes

Presenting the award for Best Picture


Directed by Sherwin Desierto, wins Best Picture


Guerrilla Filmmaking Workshop 4 Poster

Mindanao Film Festival 2006 Call for Entries Poster

2006 marks the first appearance of the Mindanao Film Festival “eagle” logo. Designed by filmmaker Bagane Fiola, it symbolizes how our rich and unique Mindanaoan stories, through film, can help us soar to new heights.

Guerrilla Filmmaking 4: Mindanao Film Festival Poster


Guerrilla Filmmaking Workshop 6 Poster

2008 is the year when the reigns to the Guerrilla Filmmaking Workshop and the Mindanao Film Festival was handed over to the newly-formed non-profit organization called the Mindanao Film & Television Development Foundation, Inc.

Acclaimed director, Peque Gallaga, giving a masterclass on directing at the Guerrilla Filmmaking Workshop.

4th Mindanao Film Festival Poster

By starting its counting from the time the name “Mindanao Film Festival” was used in 2005, the 2008 festival was called the “4th Mindanao Film Festival”.


Theatrical Screening

Awards Night

The Team

Festival Director Kenth Bajo and staff at the Awards Night

7th MFF Trophies


Video acceptance speech by Dexter Dela Peña and his team from Zamboanga who won major awards including Best Film for “Placebo”.


Award winners proudly showing off their trophies and citations.


Opening Night

Ribbon-cutting at the Opening Night with MFTDFI Chairperson Dax Cañedo, Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Davao Coordinator Peter Lat, and Festival Director Rudolph Alama.

Unveiling of the New Logo

Unveiling of the new logo of the Mindanao Film & Television Development Foundation, Inc. (MFTDFI) and a recommitment to its mission to further promote, protect, and develop the film and television community of Mindanao.

Designed by filmmaker and Mindanao Film Festival co-founder, Drei Boquiren, the logo of MFTDFI is a “balangay” with three sails that look like film strips that represent the films and stories of the tri-people of Mindanao moving us forward together as one.

Festival and Awards

Awarding of Certificates

Filmmakers receive their certificates of  participation

With the Cinemagis Film Fest Director

Cinemagis Film Festival Director Hobart Savior of Cagayan de Oro with Glenmark Doromal.

Glenmark Doromal

An Iligan native, proudly displays a few of his trophies including Best Film for the film “Ang Walay Kahumanang Adlaw”, which he shot in Cebu. This was his thesis film as a graduating senior at the College of St. Benilde in Manila.

With the Festival Jurors

Posing with festival jurors – Filmmakers McRobert “Coi Coi” Nacario of Davao, Remton Zuasola of Cebu, and film critique Jay Rosas.


10th Mindanao Film Festival Poster

Film Posters

Award-winning Films

As a pre-event activity, an extreme version of the Guerrilla Filmmaking Competition was created – the Guerrilla Filmathon, a 24-hour filmmaking adventure race.

An amazing race for filmmakers, the Guerrilla Filmathon is unique filmmaking competition where teams of filmmakers race to complete their films in 24 hours, while at the same time, trying to complete adventure-race-style challenges and obstacles to gain some useful rewards.

In this first edition of the Guerrilla Filmathon, filmmakers had to make their films using only one smartphone that was provided to them. Filmmakers used all their skills and talents to make their films look cinematic.


12th Mindanao Film Festival Poster

Opening Night

Diwa ng Dabaw 2016 Dane Rhea Sillo, Patnubay ng Dabaw 2016 Angelica Almaden, Festival Director Rudolph Alama, FDCP Davao Head Christine Ruta, Davao City Tourism Officer Generose Tecson, and MFTDFI Chairperson Dax Cañedo opening the 12th Mindanao Film Festival

Awards Night

All dressed-up for the Awards Night with MFDTFI Chairpeson Dax Cañedo, FDCP Executive Director Wilfredo Manalang, FDCP Chairperson Liza Diño, Philippine Information Agency XI Regional Director Efren Elbanbuena, Festival Director Rudolph Alama, and Festival Manager Ivan Tadena.


15th Mindanao Film Festival Poster

Retroactively acknowledging that the first two Guerrilla Filmmaking Festivals in 2003 and 2004 are part of the Mindanao Film Festival, those two years were added back to the official count, making the 2017 annual event the 15th Mindanao Film Festival. 

Organizers have jokingly said that this welcome change allowed them to skip what some would consider an unlucky number 13.

Opening Night

The opening film for the 15th Mindanao Film Festival, “Tu Pug Imatuy”, is directed by Tagum native Arnel Barbarona.

The film “Si Astri, Maka Si Tambullah” from Zamboanga won Best Film as well as Best Production Design and Best Cinematography. Assistant Director Ryanne Murcia and Cinematographer Arnel Barbarona accepts their awards.


16th Mindanao Film Festival Poster 

The 16th Mindanao Film Festival showcased a total of 107 full-length and short films, the most that the festival has ever screened to date.

Although a foreign short film has already been previously screened back in 2007, 2018 is the year that the Mindanao Film Festival started regularly showcasing foreign films as part of its program. This year had six short films from Indonesia, India, Nepal, Canada, and Venezuela.

We Will Not Die Tonight

We Will Not Die Tonight

The festival also showcased the film “We Will Not Die Tonight” starring Dabawenya actress Erich Gonzales who also is a co-producer of the film. Director Richard Somes and co-star Paolo Paraiso graced the screening of their film. Actor and festival juror Mon Confiado attended the screening as well.


17th Mindanao Film Festival (2019) Poster

Because of the increasing number of high-quality films submitted to the festival, this year saw the start of the programming committee narrowing the films down for judging and creating a Main Competition section so as not to overwhelm the jurors. The rest of the official selection of films, including the non-Mindanao and foreign films, where still exhibited in the festival.

Winners of the call for artwork inspired by filmmaking in Mindanao.

Among mga Istorya

by Adlaw


 by Joann de Castro

Davao Fruits

by Aya


18th Mindanao Film Festival (2020) Poster

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 18th Mindanao Film Festival had to move online to continue to be able to serve as a creative outlet for filmmakers and an alternative source of entertainment for people stuck in their homes during lockdown.

Posters of films were published on the festival’s Facebook page and website.

Trailers and Director’s invitation videos were published on YouTube and Facebook

The Opening Ceremonies got the online treatment.

Q&A Panels with filmmakers and guests located in their respective homes around the world. Panels were moderated by Festival Director Rudolph Alama, Festival Programmer Jay Rosas, Actor Ferdinand Mesias, and Tagumeño journalist, Sakura Yamamoto.

Deliberation of festival jurors via Zoom

Awards ceremonies hosted by Cheska Mempin-Pangan streamed live on YouTube and Facebook

Ice Seguerra presenting the award for Best Original Song

Liza Diño-Seguerra congratulating Maria Pelayo for winning Best Actress

Director Prince Nor-Anzarrih Matalam winning Best Film for his film, “Mael”


19th Mindanao Film Festival (2021) Poster

Trailers of films published YouTube

Opening Ceremonies and Opening Films

All films went live at the same time and streamed exclusively on the festival’s YouTube channel for 8 days.

Main Competition (Young Love and Friendship) panel

Foreign exhibition films panel

Panel Discussions with the filmmakers from the Mindanao, Non-Mindanao, and Foreign sections

Deliberation of festival jurors via Microsoft Teams

Awarding ceremonies live on YouTube and Facebook

Gauss Obenza presenting the award for Best Musical Score

Liza Diño-Seguerra presenting the award for Best Production Design

Zebo Raximova from Uzbekistan ties for Best Actress for her outstanding performance in the film My Mother’s Bicycle directed by Gabriel Carmelo of Koronadal City. This marks the first time that a foreign national has won a major award in the Mindanao Film Festival.  

Director Mary Claire Amora wins Best Film for her film “Out”