Special section in LA fest for Filipino films | Inquirer Entertainment

Special section in LA fest for Filipino films

Full-length Filipino features, shorts and docus highlighted in 30-year-old cinema event
/ 12:01 AM April 21, 2014

JOEL Torre in “Kabisera”

Five full-length feature films from the Philippines, products of the Cinemalaya and Cinema One fests, have earned raves on the website of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

Now on its 30th year, the LA fest will screen the five Filipino films in a special section dubbed New Face of Philippine Cinema, from May 1 to 11. The Cinemalaya films are Mikhail Red’s “Rekorder” and Alvin Yapan’s “Debosyon”; from Cinema One are Borgy Torre’s “Kabisera,” Mike Livelo’s “Blue Bustamante” and Siege Ledesma’s “Shift”


The site describes Red’s “Rekorder” as a “psychological noir film for the new millennium… a feature-length ‘selfie’ for the audience… satisfying and gripping.”

All praise



It lauds Red for “utilizing various formats (camcorder, closed circuit TV, cell phone, etc.) to capture how desensitized society has become.” “Rekorder” tells the story of a movie pirate who becomes an unwilling witness to a crime.

MARA Lopez in “Debosyon”

The site has nothing but praise for the cast of Torre’s “Kabisera”—hailing lead star Joel Torre’s performance as “compelling”; Art Acuña’s as “searing”; and Bing Pimentel’s as “strong and beautiful.”

It cites “Kabisera,” about a small-town fishpond owner who becomes a shabu pusher: “Harrowing and arresting. Fans of noir classics like ‘Touch of Evil’ or television series like ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘The Wire’ will enjoy [this movie].”

According to the website, Livelo’s “Blue Bustamante” “takes a downer of a subject and lovingly mashes it up with a tribute to 1980s Japanese sentai programs.”

“Blue Bustamante,” which follows the travails of an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) who gets cast as a superhero in a Japanese TV show, is summed up as “youthful but complex, joyful but bittersweet, and imperfect yet satisfying.” Said the site: “The low production value of this indie flick is refreshing compared to the glossy, but soulless CG that passes for children’s entertainment these days.”

FELIX Roco and Yeng Constantino in “Shift”




Yapan’s “Debosyon” is hailed as “beguiling and cryptic.” “Debosyon” focuses on an orchid vendor who falls for a mysterious maiden who lives at the foot of Mayon Volcano. The site remarks: “[‘Debosyon’] is lush with forest greenery and is a symphony of nature sounds. The [maiden’s] world is as captivating to the audience as it is to the [vendor].”

Ledesma’s “Shift” earned points for featuring the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry—specifically, two quirky call center agents, a tomboyish newbie who has a crush on her gay supervisor. The site describes the film’s protagonists as “two kindred spirits in the middle of an exploitative working environment… [their] loving bond protects them from the stress, competitiveness and also the monotony of the call center.”

Also in the lineup are three Filipino-themed documentaries: Joel Quizon’s “The Cotabato Sessions,” Esy Casey’s “Jeepney” and Marissa Aroy’s “Delano Manongs: Forgotten Heroes of the United Farm Workers Movement.”

RONNIE Quizon (center) in “Rekorder”

Quizon’s “The Cotabato Sessions” trains the spotlight on the Kalanduyan family of Mindanao, practitioners of the kulintang, an indigenous form of music. The site praises the film as “a uniquely intimate kind of long-form documentary… a poetic, celebratory work.”

Casey’s “Jeepney” waxes sentimental about this working-class mode of transport. According to the site, the docu “captures the complexity of the situation through articulate and revealing interviews… beautifully shot with vivid colors and textures… celebrates the people’s undying will to express themselves.”

Aroy’s “Delano Manongs” seeks to highlight the contributions of Filipino farm workers to the 1965 Great Grape Pickers’ Strike in California, which resulted in labor reforms. This docu rectifies the marginalization of Filipinos in union history and offers “a you-are-there aesthetic [that’s] palpable yet intimate.”

Likewise in the LA lineup are four Filipino short films: Timothy Mendoza’s “Mikoy,” Arnold Arre’s “Milkyboy,” Dennis Empalmado’s “Hindi Tao, Hindi Hayop” and John Paul Su’s “Pagpag.”

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