Black Maria Cinema: A Resurgency of Independently Produced Films

Black Maria Cinema: A Resurgency of Independently Produced Films


Your typical mall cinemas that are peppered in every area of Metro Manila ca, to some extent, be contrary to the resurgence growth of independently produced Filipino films. These independent films will need to fight fist with Hollywood driven movies or the local and saturated Piolo Pascual movies, should they want to get slots to these malls. Over the past few months, you can see these campaigns on social media most especially on their Facebook page where producers and even their cast members try their best to influence and seek support to netizens to call SMs, Ayala Malls to request their movies to be shown to for an extended timeline. It has always been a struggle to get these films available to the general public.


The role of microcinemas is very vital to the sustainability and visibility of these wonderfully produced local independent films. Smaller spaces means the less need to fill up the cost of the venue’s overhead cost giving them less pressure to sell out to any crowd-pleasing blockbusters. They can cater to a niche market of art and film enthusiast when tapped you will surely get a ‘repeat purchase’ if we coin it in a business-marketing term.  Places like Cinema ’76, Cinematheque Centers (Manila, Davao and Baguio), and the CCP Arthouse Theater have been of great help as a channel.


Fat Girls Day Out- Black Maria Cinema


Last Saturday as we all endure the horrific traffic of ASEAN summit’s redirection we were looking for a place that is less crowded preferably a coffee shop around Mandaluyong area. We opened Waze saw the Black Maria Cinema tagged and it appeared pretty interesting to drop by so then we did. They do have a coffee shop beside their cinema. The location can be a little be off beaten, but the sign was lit up beautifully as “NOW SHOWING”. Bought out a ticket and headed in. The steps and alley are pretty narrow with movie posters plastered on its walls.


Fat Girls Day Out- Black Maria Cinema


We were impressed with what we saw. Black Maria Cinema is fully air-conditioned and boasts 2K digital cinema projection, Dolby Digital Surround Sound, and about a 20-foot silver-white screen- full upgraded specs that in this smaller space yielded an extensively better experience compared to the above-mentioned microcinemas and even big mall cinemas. There are 22 cinema-style seats that are pretty comfortable and new, and with the addition of regular chairs, they can lodge 60-70 people (ballpark figure).


Fat Girls Day Out- Black Maria Cinema


Researching about Black Maria and during our discussion with their staff, It is a local production house with commercial works such as trailers, music videos, and brand commercials for over 45 years in the industry. The compound facilities were once called SQ Film Laboratories then recently go a brand revamped to Black Maria Pictures, the name was inspired after the world’s first film production studio in New Jersey: Thomas Edison’s Black Maria.  Just right beside the Black Maria Cinema is café they put up called Santiago’s.



Fat Girls Day Out- Black Maria Cinema


Based on their current lineups you can see that they will screen local and international films. As cinephiles, we’re pretty happy that these venues are now open.

Why Support Independent “Indie” Films?

Many of the mainstream films are being released theatrically for a lot of wrong reasons. Either they are doing a faux release to trigger merchandise or TV  deals, or they are vanity projects. These films clog up theaters and add to an environment that makes it hard to get attention for the films that deserve it. Thanks to theatres outlets like Black Maria Cinema, now these small quality indie films may reach audiences without requiring any theatrical pretense.


Black Maria Cinema is located on San Rafael Street, Mandaluyong, just off of the rotonda. This microcinema just opened its doors last month and has already ran/running screenings of Treb Monteras’ Respeto, Patay Na Si Hesus, and I Love You. Thank You.; as well as the all-art biopic, Loving Vincent.

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