The Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival was started in 2005 attracting both the independent spirit of filmmakers and the ascending taste of cineastes. Back in the day, when digital cinema was audacious enough to micro-produce screen materials beyond the skyrocketing dictums of commercialization, there have been debates whether quality and tenacity may be sustained through the years. On its 11th year, Cinemalaya may have skipped the annual feature length competitions, the steadfast commitment to unconventionality and maintaining its sociocultural character remain and hopefully will continue to produce not only films with autonomous vision, but also filmmakers that will spread their wings wherever the wind of world cinema takes them.
In plain words, here are our choices:
- CHILDREN’S SHOW
Derick Cabrido’s feature length debut about underground children combat is both harrowing and triumphant. It features one of the best marriages of cinematography (Mycko David) and editing (Gerone Centeno) ever committed on digital film.
Ellen Ongkeko Marfil’s Boses purportedly is part-inspired by the artistic life and tragic death of a celebrated Filipina poet; some say this is also part biopic of violinist and arts patron Coke Bolipata, who portrayed his “fictional” self. However, Bolipata’s casting only came around when a mentor character was deemed needed for the child protégé. More than what everything appeared to be so; Boses gives a generous voice of hope and redemption to artists and dreamers, amidst life’s endless despair.
- ANG SAYAW NG DALAWANG KALIWANG PAA
Art film has never been this fully loaded. Poetry and Dance exquisitely merged to dramatize the profundity of loneliness, friendship, and life’s fleeting moments. Alvin Yapan, one of the most productive art filmmakers around, created a seemingly highbrow product that is surprisingly accessible and entertaining.
There had been lobby convos about how the film’s ambitious shooting style (unbroken shots in real time) took a toll on whoever was manning the camera, resulting to hiring and rehiring multiple cinematographers for the entire production timeline. There were also muffled chitchats about the shades almost “mythologically” thrown on the set between the filmmaker and a certain organizer. All these said hullabaloos didn’t seem to matter at all when the film finally was projected. It’s a seamless roundelay of life’s tragic comeuppances in the face of poverty, corruption, and squalor. It has two Venice lions to boot. This film will make a great lynchpin on someone’s political campaign real soon.
- ANG PAGDADALAGA NI MAXIMO OLIVEROS
It took a gay child for all of us to appreciate once again the beautiful rendering of one’s pure heart and intentions. We celebrate childhood innocence in the backdrop of fetid social consciousness while demanding optimism and mellowness, in conclusion. Bittersweet but reassuring. Gender-bending yet truly independent.
- LAST SUPPER #3
Not many comedies tread boldly and emerge successfully on the subject of sociopolitical ills. Last Supper #3 unmasked not only the roundabout landscape of Philippine laws, but also the rotten attitude that we may inherently have that perpetuates the viciousness of the corruption cycle. This reality, in the creative minds of Veronica Velasco and Jinky Laurel, has winning qualities of a laugh-out-loud satirical piece.
See Number 5…
Mes De Guzman’s Diablo is quite the indescribable. You can actually watch it more than three times and each time you do, change the character to whom you place the POV. You can be the unseen entity, the modern day messiah, the returning prodigal son, or the old matriarch who holds the entire narrative together with her plaintive resonance. The result will always be but the same, and inimitably disquieting.
Many films have been made about the horrors of Martial Law, but Vince Sandoval’s reverence to the reality of the subject matter is strikingly unsettling. What became of the holy and the fortress protected tarry of the religious during the days and nights of personal uncertainties and social upheavals?
- BIG TIME
Mario Cornejo’s Big Time is not just our most favorite Cinemalaya film ever, but we always want to consider this as one of the best films on the face of the earth. Sweeping claims aside, this film about petty thieves gone gunning for the big time is never short of profound contemplation on how small piece of pawns we have become in the modern age of existential dilemmas.
Featured image credits: Arkeo Films