Cinema One: The Real Independent Film fest?
Written and photographed
by Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
Yes, I’m a fan of Cinemalaya which I have covered for years now. And it is true, Chrome Cosio a theater actor I recently interviewed said that it has become a venue for some mainstream actors to gain recognition. And it has grown to the point of it becoming more ‘mainstream’, less independent which is its original mission to encourage and promote. But I also asked him if it wasn’t a natural evolution for a fest to become a bigger and more popular and becoming more mainstream was good for it too and he agreed.
Cinema One was held at Shang Cineplex, Shangri La Plaza Mall early November but can again be seen at the U.P. Film Institute from November 29-December 3, 2011. Don’t miss the chance to watch an intriguing mix of independent films that may well represent the current and future state of Phil. cinema.
From the films that I have seen from them it is true that the themes and directorial treatment do seem to have a more independent ‘feel’ to them. Two Cinemalaya films have in fact also been released commercially with great success, “Babae Sa Septic Tank” by Marlon Rivera starring Eugene Domingo, Kean Cipriano, Cai Cortez and JM Guzman. “Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me” by Erick Salud starring Mercedes Cabral and Edgar Allan Cruz was also warmly received by film fans.
Cinema One seems to have that more varied flavor with more films made by directors from outsideManilaor shot mostly outside the capital. What’s the definition of independent? Is it by the subject matter tackled or is it the person / organization producing it? Whichever definition you prefer it helps to go through each film this year:
by Shireen Seno
It earned the distinction of being the only entry shot in actual 16mm film this year. The rest were shot digitally. And according to film maker Shireen Seno it was appropriate for the look and feel that she wanted to attain. The film shows snippets of memories from her father who grew up inMindoroin the 1950’s. And to a certain extent she achieved this. Seeing people dressed in the clothes and living in nipa hut certainly gave that era a sentimental even romantic feel. The weakness of Big Boy comes in the technical realm of sound and editing. Inconsistencies in sound levels got in the way of the story telling. A tightly edited piece sometimes also helps make a movie more memorable.
Mga Anino Sa Tanghaling Tapat
By Ivy Universe Baldoza
Where does mythology or even imagination delineate itself from reality? This is one of those films that challenge us to think and wonder about them. Ines (Martha Comia) comes home to manage the affairs of her ancestral home when her grandfather dies. The most unforgettable part is a masturbation scene by Althea Vega who plays the sensual cousin Ezra. Ines also has some inner stirrings that may lead her to a lesbian affair. Before we all get too excited, “Mga Anino Sa Tanghaling Tapat” is a lot less about sex than it is about self discovery. In that sense it is comparable to “Panggagahasa Kay Fe” by Alvin Yapan, especially with the mythological overtones. “Mga Anino..” won the Cinema One Special Jury Prize.
Cartas Dela Soledad
By Teng Mangansakan
What does a writer do when he’s bored out of his mind? Write of course! Perry Dizon plays Rashid Ali who decided to move back into his ancestral home after having lived abroad, seen and done so many things. He searches for inner peace in a quiet and remote area inMindanao. Townsfolk start questioning his sanity when he writes letters addressed to himself and yet sends them though post. Things get interesting when he meets Malik (Alexis Libres) and gets to know him better. It is a deceptively simple story of prejudice in a Muslim society. In spite of initial problems in production Mangansakan manages to pull off an eloquent film.
Sa Ilalim ng Tulay
By Earl Bontuyan
This may be the most touching film of the batch. An Aeta family decides to try their luck in the big city only to get lost, hurt and traumatized in more ways than one. Earl Bontuyan a native ofDavaowas originally a painter and artist. He shows his sensitivity by making a feature film from the point of view of the experience of the Aeta. Bontuyan relates that it doesn’t matter whether he’s fromDavaoand his Aeta subjects are from Pampanga. Goodwill among everyone from street people to rural folk is what he wants to show. Bong Cabrera as Nono got the Cinema One Best Actor award. But his on screen son Kulaw (Christoher Canduli) is a revelation. Chris Pasturan more commonly known in the SMART Bro TVC has honed his acting skills at the Virgin Lab Fest. Here he shines as the braggart Budak. The film also won Best Supporting Actor-Mike Bonapo (Dodong) and Best Musical Score – Ronald De Asis.
Sa Kanto ng Ulap at Lupa
By Mes Deguzman
The story is about how child abuse drives children to run away and how the cycle of violence is perpetuated. The four young cast members: John Paul Escobedo (Yoyong), Jeremie Cercina (Poklat), Zanderson Vicente (Uding), Alfredo Ubera Jr. (Boying) were cited by Cinema One jurors with a special Mention award. It also won the Digital Lokal Best Director and Best Film Award in Cinemanila. Director Mes De Guzman said that he wanted to show that street children are not any different from other kids or from you and me. “They have the same wants and needs. They want to fall in love, to play and be happy, just like everyone else.”
Di Ingon Nato
By Brandon Relucio and Ivan Zaldarriaga
Seemingly different events come together in a horrifiying way. The mystery build up to this zombie thriller can take a while. But if you stick with it the chase scenes and thrill ride may be worth it. Casting Rez Cortez as a good guy was pure brilliance on the part of Relucio and Zaldarriaga. He’s a tough but compassionate Barangay Captain trying to piece together the mysterious deaths and illness plaguing a remote town inCebu. Mercedes Cabral is her usual sexy self as (Yenna). She has a hot scene with on screen husband Franco Reyes as Dario, the bearded farmer determined to survive. Gabriel Jon Abanto plays Nat Nat the rotund son who steals the show. Abanto was so adorable he makes you stop wondering how a poor farmer in the middle of nowhere can have such a chubby kid.
My Paranormal Romance
By Victor Villanueva
This is pure fun made the Cebuano way. It’s more of a coming of age or teen romance when Merry (Phoebe Kaye Fernandez) moves into a new apartment and accidentally receives a ‘third eye.’ Fernandez’ bubbly personality is perfect for the role. Her background as a TV host in ABS CBN Visayas and comfort on cam didn’t hurt either. Confused with her new paranormal powers, she seeks the help of con artist Lucas (Van Roxas) whose goal is to get in her pants. Director Victor Villanueva proves that there is more than one way to make people laugh using cartoons and funny subtitles. He is able to highlight that unique Cebuano humor and charm by insisting on using it for the dialogue. Those who don’t necessarily know the dialect can expand their vocabulary with oft used words such as buang (crazy) and tabang (help). It earned the Cinema One Best Editing – Reuben Aquino, Best Production Design-Kaloy Uypuanco and Special Mention-Victor Villanueva.
Anatomiya ng Korupsyon
By Dennis Marasigan
Corruption doesn’t begin in the hallowed halls of power. It’s in our daily lives and nearly every decision we make. Atty Cely Martinez (Maricar Reyes) just wants to do her job as a Hearing Officer well. But the legal system that relies on pay offs and delaying decisions proves challenging for her conscience. Director Dennis Marasigan set up a cast of distinguished theater actors like Che Ramos, Jojit Lorenzo, Chrome Cosio, Ricky Davao, Kalila Aguilos, Sid Lucero, Pee Wee O’Hara, Robert Seña, Lou Veloso and even Eugene Domingo. This created their own niche against Maricar Reyes who was supposed to be the outsider trying to fit in. The result was a Cinema One Best Actress award for Reyes and may well be the role with the most depth that she has ever played. It also earned the Best Supporting actor nod for Jojit Lorenzo as Bok.
By Sari Lluch Dalena
The darkest days of Martial law are relived through the experiences of four women: Alessandra De Rossi as Oryang, Angeli Bayani as Alma, Marife Necesito as Helena and Kalila Aguilos as Queenie. Che Ramos also plays an outspoken student leader who is arrested and mysteriously disappears. The means of torture are unimaginable. It includes Angeli Bayani strapped naked on a block of ice before being gang raped. Director Sari Dalena shows their suffering with female sensibility and the attention to detail of an award winning documentary film maker. A rare footage of the Great Helmsman, Mao Tse Tung smooching the hand of Imelda Marcos is worth the price of admission. Emil Garcia is the all powerful and evil Captain who interrogates the women. Needless to say he does his job exceedingly well. Ka Oryang nearly swept the Cinema One major awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Musical Score-Teresa Barrozo and Best Cinematography –Neil Daza.
Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay
By Antoinette Jadaone
It is a laugh out loud voice for those who have none, a fake documentary about a real person: Lilia Cuntapay. A bit player for decades, Lilia’s only claim to fame is the scariest scene in Shake Rattle and Roll 3 where her looks deliver the horror goods. Finally she gets her break getting nominated in an awards show. The comedy comes from her difficulties of getting brushed aside in the harsh studio system. Lilia actually shows her range in comedy and drama in spite of being typecast in horror flicks through out her 4 decades long career. Director Tonette Jadaone has a hit on her hands. The Cinema One awards are also a good indication of critical and commercial success: Best Screenplay-Antoinette Jadaone, Best Actress-Lilia Cuntapay, Best Supporting Actress -GeraldineVillamil (Myra), Audience Choice, Best Editing -Leo Valencia and Glenn Ituriaga.