The 1st Santa Maria Music and Film Festival is happening on December 2


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Are you looking for a whole new level of outdoor Music and Movie Festival in one?

For the first time ever, an outdoor event with Mother Nature is happening on top of the Mountain sa Bayan ng Santa Maria, which is the Northernmost town of Laguna. The venue will take place on top of a 360-degree scenic view of Mount Banahaw, Mount Cristobal and Mount Sembrano overlooking Laguna de Bay and the windmills of Pililia, Rizal. It’s really a breathtaking view with an ambiance like no other.

Let’s start with the formal opening of the event by the Santa Maria Academy Dance Troupe, the town’s pride. The high school teens will welcome all moviegoers, there will be local performers who will do the front act.

Acoustic guitarist and singers Miro Valera and Jeff Bolivar will be doing their sets in between the Film showing.

The Santa Maria Music and Film Festival (SMMFF) which is set on December 2, will showcase 7 short films is a 3 hour event from 3pm to 6pm with different categories from freelance movie writers and directors.

There were about 20 short film entries that submitted online via FilmFreeway.com that came from various parts of the World, from different from walks of life namely students, directors, short film makers, commercials and creators for inspirational content.

From the 20 entries, there were about 13 that were selected based on the selection criteria. So what were the criteria for judging the entries and how did they make it into the shortlist?

Judging Guidelines:

  • Viewing Window: October 5-20, 2023.
  • Rating Criteria: As detailed below.
  • Feedback: Encouraged for filmmakers’ growth. (Not mandatory)
  • Winners: Based on cumulative scores post-judging.

Platform Details:

We’re utilizing FilmFreeway for this year’s festival. Once confirmed, you’ll gain exclusive access to the submitted films. Access to your Judge dashboard has been granted.

Assigned Films:

For multiple films in a category, please use the Rating Criteria. For single-entry categories, employ Merit-Based Evaluation.

Rating Criteria (Multiple Films):

  • 10 stars for top choice.
  • 9 stars for the next, descending accordingly.

Merit-Based Evaluation (Single Entries):

  • Films will be judged on their merits against SMMFF’s criteria.
  • A score of 85 is required for award consideration.
  • Score guide

While optional, we encourage providing constructive feedback to filmmakers.

Here are the Top 7 from the 13 pre-selected films:

  1. The Vibe Operator (part 1) – is a student film by Michael Moore from USA. Mike presents “The Vibe Operator,” a modern sci-fi rock opera about a disillusioned rockstar leaving Earth for deep space to live out his ego-driven dream.In a future where most have evolved into a collective hive, Android Andrew is inspired by ancient Earth music and rebels against The Collective’s oppressive ways.Mike Moore wrote, directed, and performed in the prototype for his master’s thesis at Berklee College of Music NYC in 2022, with an album set to release this year.
  2. Bitter Brownies by James Carman from USA. In this dark comedy, a devious thief pilfers lunches from the company refrigerator. Staff employees are out for blood. Where will the food bandit strike next?!!!
  3. Life Savers by Lukasz Wdowicz,  Poland. This is a short commercial about a Granddaughter is up to no good to get out of a family gathering around an ill grandfather at the hospital.
  4.  Searching for Chunk by Samuel Haft, USA. It’s a short documentary about two friends discover an old novelty record on youtube, and in trying to track down the story behind it, accidentally launch themselves into an increasingly surreal investigation.
  5. Till the music stop by Emilie De Monsabert from France. A directorial about a witness at her best friend’s wedding, Pauline hopes to enjoy this extraordinary day and to get closer to the handsome Raphael. But it will be hard for her to take her eyes off her disabled daughter Emma, whom she could not bring herself to let keep.
  6. Dream On – an inspiration short film by Dale Metz, Sarah – Lee Dobbs, United States. The story goes when Kylie dreams of a career in the performing arts. When her audition letter finally arrives, she struggles to find the confidence to make it happen
  7. I Can Do Anything: A Letter to Burning Man – an inspirational film by Alba Roland Mejia, United States. This experimental short film is an intimate, character-focused exploration of the unique black experience at Burning Man. It was not my priority to capture Burning Man itself, but the energy exchange that it has with the present black bodies. My goal is this piece inspires curiosity.

For the attendees, there will be free wine from Barefoot Wine & Arbor Mist. It would be best if you can bring and use your tumbler for mineral water at refilling stations. There will also be samples to be given from Conzace, Nafarin, Immunpro.

The location

The event will take place at the summit of Sierra Madre. Please note that accessing the location may involve hiking or using designated transportation services. Be ready for the cold winds and possible rains although the place will have tent-like structure. The area is a private property owned by the Maliwanag family.

How to get there

Plan for an effortless journey by checking out the easiest ways to get to the Santa Maria Music & Film Festival, whether by commute or driving. Download the PDF guide from their website https://www.santamariafestival.com/planyourvisit to navigate directions and explore available accommodations, ensuring a seamless and unforgettable festival experience. Kilometer markers and signages are available in the final stretch!

Explore the Unseen: An Exclusive Music and Film Festival in the Heart of Sierra Madre. Tickets are Free, but Seats are Limited! Secure Your Spot at https://www.santamariafestival.com/events/santa-maria-music-film-festival-2

Safety Precautions

Your safety is our utmost priority. We will have trained staff and security personnel on-site to ensure a secure environment. Please follow their instructions and be aware of any safety guidelines provided. There is proper coordination from the local government and you may also ask for assistance for directions on how to get to the event proper.

Weather Considerations

The Sierra Madre region can experience varying weather conditions. It is essential to dress appropriately and come prepared for potential changes in temperature, wind, or precipitation. Bringing layers of clothing, hats, and waterproof gear is recommended.

Wildlife – animals, insects, plants and trees

Sierra Madre is home to diverse wildlife. There might be some animals that may roam around the area.  Please give them ample space and we discourage feeding them.  Let us respect and preserve life as we appreciate the beauty of nature. Please refrain from picking flowers and insects as they might be harmful to some people.

The whole province of Laguna has a “NO USE OF PLASTIC” ordinance

Please help us reduce plastic waste by refraining from bringing any plastic bottles to the event. Instead, we encourage you to bring your own reusable water bottles or containers.

Water Station for Tumblers

We are happy to inform you that we will have a water station available for refilling your own tumblers or reusable water bottles. Stay hydrated throughout the event while reducing single- use plastic consumption. We also encourage you to bring your own drinking glass if possible.

Designated Smoking and Vaping Area

If you are a smoker or vaper, we have set up a designated area for you to smoke or vape. We request that you use this area before or after the event, rather than during the event. The designated area will be situated away from the cinema and other gathering areas to make sure that everyone can enjoy the event comfortably. Please make sure to extinguish your smoking or vaping materials properly and dispose of them in the ashtrays or containers provided

Medical Team

We have a medical team available at the event to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being.If you need medical assistance, please inform a staff member who will quickly contact the medical team. Your health and safety are our top priorities, and we are dedicated to providing a secure environment for all attendees.

No Picnic

Please note that picnicking will not be allowed during the movie screening. We encourage you to enjoy your meals before or after the event at designated areas outside the cinema area.

No Overnight Stay

The event is scheduled for the movie screening only, and overnight stay on the mountain will not be permitted. We kindly ask that you plan your travel accordingly and make arrangements to leave the venue after the movie concludes.

Photography and Enjoyment

Capture the memories of this extraordinary experience through photography, but remember to be considerate of fellow attendees. Avoid obstructing views or causing distractions during the movie screening.

Art installations

Embark on an Art Odyssey: Discover the Hidden Narratives in Our 10 Captivating Installations!

Be on the lookout for the extraordinary as you explore our venue! SMMFF curated 10 thought-provoking art installations, each with a unique story to tell and a deeper meaning to uncover.

  • See What Others Can’t Neon Light: At Santa Maria Open Air Cinema, our mantra “See What Others Can’t” merges music, film, and nature for a profound experience beyond typical cinema. Dive into deeper meanings and appreciate life’s rich tapestry.
  • Midnight Nostalgia Installation: showcasing an aged TV set, a radiant lamp, and an artfully designed chair. This exhibit beautifully captures the sentimentality of late-night movie watching, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in a journey through the cinematic past.
  • Reflecting the Unseen Mirror: Experience “Reflecting the Unseen” —a big mirror on the ground echoing our mantra. Look into the mirror to enter a world where perspectives shift, and hidden dimensions come to light. Step into the extraordinary with us!
  • Orange Umbrella Tree – Life’s Resilience: Amidst vibrant festival energy, behold the Orange Umbrella Tree—a dead tree adorned with orange umbrellas, symbolizing life’s resilience. It embodies the festival’s theme, urging us to ‘See what others can’t’ and find vitality in unexpected places.
  • Summit Bear – Festival Guardian: Meet Summit Bear, the festival guardian, sponsored by ‘Stories We Tell.’ This enchanting bear uses unique outfits to narrate captivating stories in alignment with our vibrant event themes.
  • Hay Smiley – Grooving Festival Mascot: Hay Smiley, a vibrant mascot grooving to the festival’s rhythm, pays homage to Santa Maria’s agricultural heritage. Just as fields yield golden grains, our festival offers musical and cinematic treasures.
  • Heritage of Cow and Horse Hangings: Uncover the legacy of cow and horse cloth hangings, bridging past and present at our festival. Sponsored by WearZitee Traveling Clothing Line, these hangings celebrate our rich history.
  • Explore the Unseen: Unique Perspective Filters: Unlock your unique perspective at our festival. Explore the unseen with different eyes, using unique filters to capture the vibrant atmosphere in your way.
  • Pompon Flower Art – Burst of Color and Creativity: In the dynamic atmosphere of the festival, ‘Pompon Flower Art’ bursts with color and creativity, mirroring our ethos of ‘See what others can’t.’
  • Skeleton’s Corner: A Thought-Provoking Space: Step into ‘The Skeleton’s Corner,’ a designated space for reflection on vaping and smoking choices. Amidst a chilling ambiance, a coffin symbolizes the risks, urging us to prioritize well-being.
  • Unconventional Restroom Views: Even our restrooms at Santa Maria Music & Film Festival let you ‘See What Others Can’t.’ Experience unforgettable views in every corner.

Leave only memories behind (Clean As You Go)

As responsible stewards of the environment, we kindly request that you adhere to the principles of “Leave No Trace.” Please bring down all your trash, dispose of it properly in designated bins, and avoid any activities that may harm the natural surroundings.

Organized by Zero-In Concept & Production, Stories We Tell in cooperation with Trees for the Future, Tourism Department of Santa Maria Laguna, Turismo Marilag, the local government of Barangay Pao-o,  the Philippine National Police of Santa Maria Laguna.

This event would not have been possible without the support of Wearzitee, have a sip of the soon-to-rise World Cup Cafe atop Sierra Madre.

Meet the crew of the organizing committee

Headed by Jennifer Maliwanag, who is a multi-awarded director and writer for short films, this is a passion project for her as a film student in Harvard University. Jennifer made it a point that this endeavor will push through with all her team’s effort.

She wanted her small voice to be heard that is why the passion driven to see what others can’t and a desire to provide a platform for discovering the unseen, exploring the unexplored, championing every voice, and celebrating every story. The first Santa Maria Music and Film Festival here in the Philippines, showcasing the talent of other short film makers is her burning passion to also help other voices be heard, and to inspire fellow Filipinos that perseverance and determination can bring you to International Markets. This is one out of four tracks and she wishes to have this SMMFF every year. Kudos and a salute to you Jen!

In her team, Rex Lopez,  cinematic storyteller extraordinaire. Alexander Jude Gotinga, aural connoiseur. Jerico Maliwanag, cousin and a cinema visionary craftsman and Mohammed Abedi, Globetrotting Literary Maestro.


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