For the Love of Cinema: Lockdown Cinema Club screens free movies to aid freelance film workers affected by COVID-19

by Matthew Escosia
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For the past few weeks, several film studios, organizations, and artists have been putting out their works for free for the benefit of people obliged to lock in-doors due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).

With the many risks in-hand in this decision (piracy as the biggest hindrance), these groups consider this as a way to bring a short light to the dark times. To keep everyone entertained in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the opening salvo of “SEAtizens“, SEA Wave magazine’s series of inspiring stories of people in the region who championed the human spirit by demonstrating courage, ingenuity, generosity and selflessness, we are featuring Lockdown Cinema Club and its creator Carl Chavez, from the Philippines.

Lockdown Cinema Club, an initiative made by a group of Filipino filmmakers for low wage freelance film workers, has recently made the waves by putting out Asian films for free.

The project, spearheaded by filmmaker Carl Chavez, had two goals in mind from the very start: the chance to educate people about films and help his co-film workers who are financially stunted given the times.

“It started with an idea of mine to share a list of short films that they can access when the Community Quarantine started. The focus for the first volume was to share links also of donation drives for frontliners, the elderly and the urban poor. But I had in mind that the film workers should be the beneficiaries for the succeeding volumes,” Chavez said.

Together with his Lockdown Cinema Club team, Chavez has compiled four volumes worth of films from Asian filmmakers to be made available online for free. The four volumes have featured notable works from acclaimed filmmakers such as Lav Diaz, John Torres, Khavn Dela Cruz, and Erik Matti.

Lockdown Cinema Club aims to reach an amount enough to support 1,500 freelance film workers this ECQ. However, putting together the list to identify these film workers has become a big challenge.

lockdown cinema club

Photo courtesy of Lockdown Cinema Club.

“We had a hard time [to make a database of film workers] since no one has the database for these film workers. So we need to gather them in coordination with above the line film production staff, production houses and equipment rentals. They are the ones who verify and check our list to make sure they are qualified as Lockdown Cinema Club’s beneficiaries,” Chavez shared.

To attract more people to donate, Lockdown Cinema Club have recently been conducting film activities, from live talks and live scriptwriting with filmmakers to partnerships with other film groups, all in hopes to send the word to a wider reach.

Their culminating activity held last April 21, the “Gabi ng Himala: Mga Awit at Kwento,” assembled people from various fields of the industry to celebrate the 1982 Ishmael Bernal film Himala online. The event, comprised of musical performances, scene interpretations, and online discussions about Himala, was participated by the film’s writer Ricky Lee, producer Charo Santos-Concio, cast member Nora Aunor. Several artists such as Marian Rivera, Dingdong Dantes, Lea Salonga, John Lloyd Cruz, Piolo Pascual, Jericho Rosales, and Nadine Lustre among many, also guested performing pieces inspired by the film

lockdown cinema club gabi ng himala

Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN Film Restoration.

What can people expect after this? Chavez said that his Lockdown Cinema Club team are “hoping to disburse one last round of financial aid to its beneficiaries. And of course, we’ll be releasing more films.”

lockdown cinema club

Photo courtesy of Lockdown Cinema Club.

Help Lockdown Cinema Club support freelance low-wage film workers affected by the qurantine by donating at

Featured photo courtesy of Lockdown Cinema Club and Film Development Council of the Philippines.


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