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4 Pinoy indies now in Berlinale

Maverick filmmaker competes with a short in Germany and debuts a full feature in the Netherlands
/ 12:41 AM January 20, 2012

KHAVN de la Cruz

Last time the Filipino contingent  at the Berlin International Film Festival was this big was four years ago, said maverick filmmaker Khavn de la Cruz, who’s fielding his work, “Pusong Wazak,” in the short film competition of the Berlinale, which runs from Feb. 9 to 19.

In 2008, there were six Filipino films at the Berlinale, “mostly in the Forum section,” he recounted, including his surrealist feature “The Muzzled Horse of an Engineer in Search of Mechanical Saddles.”

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This year, there will be four Pinoy films in different divisions: Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s “Captive” in the main section; Rommel Tolentino’s “Nono” in Generation Kplus; Marlon Rivera’s “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” in the Forum; and De la Cruz’s “Pusong Wazak” in the Shorts.

Pat on the shoulder

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“It’s further proof of Filipino excellence in cinema,” he said. “And for me, it’s another pat on the shoulder.”

He related that a German friend once lamented the minimal government support for the Filipino films at the Berlin fest four years ago: “It was a pity, my friend said, because we might not be able to have that many films in Berlin again. But this year, history repeats itself.”

Berlin is a significant, sentimental homecoming for De la Cruz, too.

“It’s the first time for a Filipino to compete in the Shorts section,” he pointed out.

The Berlinale is the “first European festival I attended, in 2004,” as a participant at the Berlin Talent Campus. “It’s cool to be back. It’s interesting and intensely rewarding because ‘Pusong Wazak’ was made simply on impulse. It just needed to be created.”

He has a strong connection to the fest and the city. Six years ago, he brought “Mondomanila” to Berlin as part of the Co-Production Market. A year later, he screened his short “Can & Slippers.” Three years ago, he was part of the Shorts jury.

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Tourist stuff

Next month, he intends to fly to Berlin to “have fun and meet up with friends from Europe and beyond.” He plans to do “touristy stuff, like visit the Jewish Museum. I still don’t know the place.”

Dela Cruz hopes his screenings will be “well-attended and that the audience will be moved in the right places.”

He explained that “Pusong Wazak,” which tells the love story of a criminal and a prostitute, follows universal themes. “Everyone has a broken heart and everyone wants to fix it. Not everyone gets to… so in the meantime, they get a fix elsewhere.”

Rotterdam link

He is grateful to friends who helped him finish “Wazak”—“the cast and crew and my coproducer, Urian best actress winner Fe GingGing Hyde.”

Before heading to Berlin, De la Cruz’s full-length feature film, “Mondomanila,” will have its world premiere at the 41st Rotterdam (The Netherlands) International Film Festival, which runs from Jan. 25-Feb. 5.

Rotterdam, he noted, was among the “first major festivals in Europe to pay serious attention to Philippine and Southeast Asian cinema,” in 2005. De la Cruz has a long list of films that have been shown there, from “The Family That Eats Soil” to “Kommander Kulas.”

He said “Mondomanila,” the culmination of a decade’s worth of work, will give foreign audiences “a glimpse into the iceberg that is the Philippines… Why are we poor? Why are we sick?”

“Pusong Wazak” and “Mondomanila” are different and similar at the same time, he noted. “Both reflect who I am now as a filmmaker… my kaning baboy, halo-halo mash-up aesthetics.”

Apart from “Mondomanila,” five other Filipino films will be shown at the Rotterdam fest. Having its world premiere in the Spectrum section is Lav Diaz’s “Florentina Hubaldo, CTE.” Diaz will likewise screen his “Century of Birthing” in the same section, along with Raya Martin’s “Buenas Noches, España.” Also in the lineup are Jet Leyco’s “Ex Press” and “Patlang.”

Aside from movie, book and music projects in the works, Dela Cruz is shooting the film opera “Kalakala,” to raise funds for the victims of Tropical Storm Sendong in Cagayan de Oro. “I will use Bienvenido Lumbera’s translation of TS Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’ and feature Joey Ayala’s voice in the soundtrack,” he said.

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TAGS: “Pusong Wazak, ” “Mondomanila, ” Berlin International Film Festival, 41st Rotterdam (The Netherlands) International Film Festival, Berlinale, Khavn de la Cruz
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