“Why the recurrence, or repetition?”
by Mauro Feria Tumbocon Jr, Festival Director, Filipino International Cine Festival
Perhaps of curatorial, or even, academic interest, that film critics, scholars, or historians seem to look at patterns in how filmmakers design their works, that is, if deliberate in their intent to pursue a subject, an idea, or explore the medium in their own ways – maybe a remnant of an auteurist approach to film, despite the long-challenged theory has been quite debunked by many – or can be discerned in retrospect, if after re-viewing/revaluating films, one can suggest such kind of a pattern.
Thus, we see variations on a theme, a filmmaker’s continuing preoccupation with a concept, an idea; or stylistic exploration of the medium that constantly changes, or is magnified, revised, re-imagined.
Three, as the usual number, is commonly adhered to, because as in Latin “omne trium perfectum” (every set of three is complete), is the smallest number of works to make a pattern. Think of Aristotle’s Poetics, or three parts of storytelling – beginning, middle, end.
In Philippine cinema, there was the Marilou Diaz-Abaya & Ricardo Lee collaborations on “women and patriarchy” (BRUTAL, 1980; MORAL, 1982; KARNAL [of the flesh], 1983; how about SENSWAL [of the senses], 1986); Eddie Romero’s treatise on Philippine history (GANITO KAMI NOON, PAANO KAMI NGAYON [as we were, how we are now], 1976; AGILA [eagle], 1979; KAMAKALAWA [the day before], 1981), the Lino Brocka urban poor films “the slum eats its own children” (INSIANG, 1976; JAGUAR, 1979; BONA, 1981) and even, the Mario O’Hara urban noir (CONDEMNED, 1984; BULAKLAK SA CITY JAIL [flower in city jail], 1984; BAGONG HARI [new king], 1986).
Of late, this trend continues among the younger batch of filmmakers, and even one major (veteran) director.
Jerrold Tarog, of course, has his “Camera Trilogy”, where obviously a video camera plays a central role in the filmmaker’s exhortation of – does the camera really tell the truth? (CONFESSIONAL, 2007; MANGATYANAN [the blood trail], 2009; SANA DATI [if only], 2013).
Lav Diaz has his own series of films that deal with Philippine contemporary history, notably, his martial law/Marcos regime films, which include EBOLUSYON NG ISANG PAMILYANG PILIPINO [evolution of a Filipino family], 2004; NORTE, HANGGANAN NG KASAYSAYAN [Norte, the end of history], 2013; MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON [from what is before], 2014.
In this vein, the other filmmakers, who are now on their path to complete their respective trilogy, bear watching.
Personally, I find Sari Dalena’s projects most intriguing. Choosing Filipino writers as her subject, utilizing the docu-drama as form – interviews interspersed with re-enactment/dramatization of the subject’s life story – assumes some discursive stance, some distancing from events, that evades sentimentality. First in the trilogy, was THE GUERRILLA IS A POET, 2014, about the Filipino revolutionary/poet Jose Maria Sison; next in line, currently in production is her take on National Artist for Literature, Nick Joaquin, in DAHLIN’ NICK. In private conversation, she plans to take a shot at understanding the life and work of another colorful, controversial poet, whose name I am not at liberty to divulge. How about a series on women writers as the next project of three?
Kanakan Balintagos, ever since he assumed his indigenous name (erstwhile known as Auraeus Solito), has his Palawan trilogy: BUSONG [Palawan fate], 2011; BAYBAYIN [Palawan script], 2012]; and presently has completed the script for the third on the Palawan healer.
Raya Martin has his works dealing with cinema (NOW SHOWING, 2008; NEXT ATTRACTION, 2008) and on the Philippines’ colonial past (A SHORT FILM ABOUT THE INDIO NACIONAL, 2005; INDEPENDENCIA, 2009). No word as of yet, if he plans to complete their respective trilogies.
Milo Sogueco is another filmmaker who I noticed to have this interest on the dying homegrown small business, quite a novel idea, if I may say: SANGLAAN [pawnshop], 2009; his latest, MARIQUINA, about the shoemaking industry in Marikina, 2014.
Last but not the least, one veteran director, and the long-acknowledged major Filipino filmmaker, Elwood Perez, dares to complete his trilogy of “films describing a creative resurgence” – according to some observers, his take on the creative process – is my most anticipated project of the year: OTSO [eight], 2013; ESOTERIKA: MAYNILA, 2014; and hopefully, this year, his VAYA CON DIOS.
Yes, we continue to have faith in our cinema!
I also want to include the Brillante Mendoza-Nora Aunor collaborations, his archipelagic films with the Superstar: THY WOMB, 2012, set in Mindanao; TAKLUB [trap], 2014, set in the Visayas, and how about the third, set in Luzon?
Photo credits: Star Sabroso