Indie films we’d like to see in regular theaters
The just-concluded 8th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival yielded several gems (as usual) that we’d like very much to see in commercial cinemas.
A number of the 2012 entries will be screened at the University of the Philippines Film Institute from Aug. 1-4.
Still, we’d like to remind theater owners nationwide: Remember last year’s breakaway successes, “Zombadings: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington” and “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank”?
Here are some of our candidates for regular-cinema screenings from this year’s list:
His expired green card gave Guam-based Filipino filmmaker Julius Sotomayor Cena the idea for his debut full-length feature, “Mga Dayo” (Resident Alien).
“It had the words ‘Resident Alien’ in bold letters. It became a realization from the mundane,” Cena said. “It’s an important document that’s generally overlooked, but it defines my
He related: “Only after I had lived in Guam for almost 20 years did I realize that I would always be an alien. The ID is a physical manifestation of my ‘not belonging naturally’—of being an ‘outsider.’ On a political level, it’s a label of citizenship.”
The film was an entry in the festival’s New Breed category. It revolves around three women dealing with migration issues.
“I hope it gives a voice to many Filipino immigrants who sometimes become invisible in a foreign society,” said Cena.
“Mga Dayo,” set in Guam on Thanksgiving Day, is about Alex (played by Sue Prado), a newspaper photographer; Miriam (Janela Carera), a journalist; and Ella (Olga Natividad), a hotel housekeeper.
This finalist in the Directors’ Showcase category tackles crime and police brutality.
“This is a toned-down version of what actually happens on the streets. There’s a need for people to know this,” filmmaker Lawrence Fajardo said.
“Posas” follows Jess, a notorious snatcher in the Quiapo Church area, who is arrested. He is terrorized and tortured until he confesses to the crime. In the end, the charge against him is dropped, but it’s clear that his life of crime is far from over.
Producer Josabeth Alonso of Quantum Films said she made the film to help effect change. “I’ve been a lawyer for 25 years; I’ve seen everything,” she said.
As Jess, Alonso’s own son Nico Antonio was tortured for the scene “for real.” He volunteered, she said.
Bangs Garcia, who plays the snatcher’s victim, said she learned a lot while doing the movie, specifically, “how crime investigation is handled. I hope that, instead of taking offense, the police force would do something to remedy this problem.”
Princess, a half-breed golden retriever, is the first dog in the eight-year history of Cinemalaya to attend a gala premiere night.
She plays the title role in the Jun Lana drama, “Bwakaw.”
Veteran actor Eddie Garcia, the lead star, said he was impressed by Princess. “She’s smarter than some actors I know,” Garcia pointed out.
Lana, in turn, was impressed by Garcia who, the director said, had no qualms about kissing another man in the movie.
That’s because Garcia plays Rene, who came out of the closet at age 70. He feels it’s too late for love or even just for companionship, and all he can look forward to is dying. His only friend is Bwakaw.
Lana recounted: “Before filming, we sat down to discuss his character—where his emotions should be coming from. He read the script and never questioned the kissing scene. He didn’t even ask if it was crucial to the story. I was humbled by that trust.”
‘Intoy Syokoy sa Kalye Marino’
GMA 7 actress LJ Reyes doesn’t mind that she’s often relegated to contravida roles on the small screen.
“It’s just work,” she said. “Luckily, I also get to do indie movies that allow me to explore other characters.”
This year, LJ returned to Cinemalaya via Lem Lorca’s “Intoy Syokoy sa Kalye Marino,” an entry in the New Breed category, where she portrays yet another disturbed girl. “I play a prostitute who sells her body to fishermen in exchange for a bagful of fish.”
In a highly dramatic scene with lead star JM de Guzman, she takes off her top. LJ recalled that she was initially scared of baring her body, but as the shoot progressed she understood her character better.
JM recounted that LJ “delivered” what the script required, making his work easier as well.
In one scene, LJ swims in the dark waters of Cavite to save a drowning JM. “We didn’t see that the rocks were sharp,” she recalled. “I cut my knee. I wanted to slug (costar) Joross Gamboa because he poured alcohol on my wound. It stung!”
(What Isn’t There)
GMA 7 actor Dominic Roco has been living in the shadow of twin brother Felix Roco, who made waves in the 2009 Cinemalaya film and Venice winner, “Engkwentro.”
Dominic finally shines on his own in Marie Jamora’s “Ang Nawawala,” an entry in the New Breed section.
Felix and Dominic—who is also in the cast of the Kapuso soap “Makapiling Kang Muli”— auditioned for the same role. Dominic got it.
That’s the role of Gibson Bonifacio, a young man who stops speaking after a family tragedy. Felix landed the role of Gibson’s chatty brother.
“I can relate with Gibson because I’m also quiet,” Dominic said. “Still, it wasn’t easy, since I had few speaking lines and relied mostly on facial expressions. Luckily, my co-actors were really good.” He was particularly “star-struck” with Dawn Zulueta, who plays his mom.
And he was very impressed with his director. “She was constantly discussing the movie with us.”
Seeing the result of the whole team’s work, Dominic is glad that his Kapuso handlers allowed him to accept the indie film. “I personally asked GMA Artist Center (GMAAC) to let me do it; I had felt very strongly about the movie,” he said. “All artists should experience doing at least one indie film.”
Call us sentimental, but our big favorite in the 8th Cinemalaya is this documentary about what its maker, Fil-Am Benito Bautista, describes as “invisible people.”
The three self-effacing subjects are really called haranistas—and we didn’t hear that word until we saw the docu. But the word that it was culled from, harana, instantly stirred in us memories of a gentle past.
Serenading a woman by way of declaring a man’s intent to court her may sound like alienspeak to the young—all the more reason they should be given all possible access to this gem of a film.
Fil-Am classical guitarist Florante Aguilar embarks on a journey home from the United States in his quest for surviving masters of a Filipino musical form that he staunchly believes should be preserved.
He finds two from his province, Cavite, Celestino Aniel and Romeo Bergunio; and one from Ilocos Sur, Felipe Alonzo. Aguilar wills himself back in time by taking the trio on a trip they never even dared imagine (one that includes a concert, a recording session and, at least for two of the haranistas, a trip to the United States.
All music-loving Pinoys, not just the young, should see this.
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