The Metro Manila Film Festival began fielding indies in 2010. On its third year, the film event’s New Wave category finally comes into its own, with five entries that, while flawed, are as thematically provocative as they are deliciously diverse.
This year, Tyrone Acierto’s “The Grave Bandits,” Armando Lao’s “Ad Ignorantiam,” Will Fredo’s “In Nomine Matris,” Michael Angelo Dagñalan’s “Paglaya Sa Tanikala,” and Ronaldo Bertubin’s “Gayak” are being screened at Glorietta 4 (until Sunday), so we urge movie buffs to take part in this cinematic feast, before the predictable tedium of the festival’s main entries kicks in on Dec. 25.
In “The Grave Diggers,” you’ll have a grand time cheering on protagonists, Romy (Ronald Pacifico) and 12-year-old Peewee (Marti San Juan), as they help Maiya (Jill Palencia) evade gun-toting pirates on a mysterious island off the coast of Zambales.
Unknown to Romy and Peewee, however, the island is overrun by—flesh-nibbling zombies! Key to solving the supernatural occurrence is a gemstone from outer space that turns humans into monsters! Briskly paced and beautifully photographed, Acierto’s crowd-pleasing horror adventure is boosted further by the enthusiastic portrayals of its likable leads.
“In Nomine Matris” is a flamenco-fueled mood piece that effectively fuses the seemingly disparate elements of film and theater. Will Fredo’s 2008 mind-bender, “Sa Pagdapo Ng Mariposa,” was underwhelming, but his latest movie showcases his continually evolving gifts as a filmmaker.
Compromised by uneven performances, the engaging dance-drama tells the tale of ambitious dancer, Mara Advento (the lovely Liza Diño), who’s torn between her passion for dancing and her volatile relationships with half-brothers, Enrique Herrera (Al Gatmaitan) and Daniel Lagdameo (Biboy Ramirez)—whose mother just happens to be her mentor, Mercedes (the superb Clara Ramona)! Tami Monsod (as Diño’s bistek-cooking, flamenco-grooving mother) and Leo Rialp (as Mara’s adulterous politician father) also turn in notable portrayals.
Boosted by the believable performances of Kristoffer King, Ina Feleo and Kimmy Maclang, “Ad Ignorantiam” boldly examines the country’s justice system as it presents contrasting versions of the “truth.” Did Roberto Igawad (King) really steal Donna Reyes’ (Feleo) 22-karat necklace—or, is it merely a case of mistaken identity?
Michael Angelo Dagñalan’s well-intentioned but incoherent “Paglaya sa Tanikala” casts Matteo Guidicelli in a dual role—as St. Jerome Emiliani and Brother Jerry, who helps run one of the Somascan Fathers’ five Casa Miani orphanages in the country.
Jerry’s life as a religious becomes more eventful when he meets young Berto (the outstanding Micko Laurente). But, is the rugby-sniffing, rap-mouthing orphan ready to turn over a new leaf?
Set in the backdrop of the lusciously depicted San Juan ritual in Nueva Ecija, the provocative but narratively disjointed “Gayak” dramatizes the unsteady relationship of Felix (quietly limned by Allan Paule) and his fragile son, Christian/JC (Sef Cadayona, in another career-making—and gender-bending—turn). Is Felix’s “panata” strong enough to drive his son’s emotional and physical “demons” away?