Active Vista Film Festival

Active Vista recognizes the country’s longstanding struggle for change, and aims to awaken a progressive spirit in our people---- if not a social conscience, at least a social consciousness. It’s a little ambitious, but there is just enough genius in its roster of films to believe it can work. The weeklong festival will be held at the Robinson’s Galleria IndieSine from November 26 to December 2, 2008.


Ang Daan Patungong Kalimugtong (The Road to Kalimugtong) by Mes de Guzman

For Jinky and Potpot, life in Benguet is simply a trek to and from school. Every day, together with other children, they have to cross mountains, rivers and hanging bridges to get to their destination. They survive thanks to the work of their elder brothers, Manong Ramil and Manong Ronaldo, who inherited the task of looking after their siblings and grandfather on their parents' death. Both work for a mining company, leaving the younger brothers in their grandfather's care. But the elder brothers haven't been back for months. The film tackles the blatant ills of the Philippines' educational system and its surrounding issues on poverty without being too preachy. It is quite good that the film is narrated and is shown through the point of view of the children; and as such, the presentation of the issues is filtered by their inherent naivete and innocence, making the exercise a lot more palatable yet poignant.

Hunghong sa Yuta (Earth’s Whisperer) by Arnel Mardoquio

"Earth's whisper." The English translation of "Hunghong sa Yuta" — the title of Arnel Mardoquio's film about war and peace in Mindanao — easily cues us on how to read this story about a clutch of deaf-mute children in a mountain community consisting of Christians, Muslims and Lumads, and the teacher from the city who introduces them to the alphabet and numbers. War between rebels and the military has devastated the community of Hinyok, its most telling casualty being children born without the ability to speak and hear, and whose fathers are nevertheless intent on training them to become fighters to defend their land. Vigo Cruz, artist and toy-maker, answers a posted notice about Hinyok's need for a teacher, and his work with the children brings joy and hope to the young war victims and their mothers.

Huling Balyan ng Buhi (Woven Stories of the Other) by Sherad Anthony Sanchez

Huling Balyan ng Buhi is a war film, one that doesn't relish in the flagrant violence and casualties but speaks of and for the lives that are ultimately affected. Sanchez's film, instead of relying on the traditional narrative, crosscuts between real-time sequences that is more telling of the currency of conflict than what is manufactured by the creative mind of a screenwriter, who mostly merely rewrites personal impressions of war or what has been published in newspapers. The stories are finally woven together not by the common considerations of traditional narrative but by an overbearing feeling caused by prolonged warfare where no bet can ever be capable of winning. The thread that finally connects everything is inevitable loss: of a mother we'll never get to know, of a real reason to fight, of the last balyan, the final bastion of a cultural identity.


My Fake American Accent by Ned Trespaces (Cinemalaya 2008)

The film is a slice-of-life workplace comedy following the lives of technical support call center agents in the span of six months. Speaking with a fake American accent is a prerequisite for the job. This ensemble comedy is an inside look into the maddening, sleep-deprived, caffeine-fuelled lives of those who ply their trade in the call center industry.

Pepot Artista by Clodualdo del Mundo

Pepot Artista is a comedy-musical that focuses on a ten-year-old boy whose dream is to become a movie star. Pepot, the dreamer, is surrounded by people who are equally dazzled by the movie world- from his own mother to the principal in his school to the impersonators in the neighborhood carnival. Coming from a poor family, Pepot overcomes adversity to have a chance at fulfilling his dream. He tackles school bullies, a strict teacher, and an unwelcoming world that fails to comprehend his intense desire to become a star. The story happens in the ‘70s when superstars brightened the film world in Pepot’s country. The film explores the penchant of Filipinos for entertainment in the midst of serious social problems.

Barako: Small time, Big time Politics by Manolito C. Sulit

Barako is a haunting account of a young man’s attempt to effect change in his town by gathering his friends around a kapihan called “barakuhan”. In the absence of media, it effectively becomes a venue for the townsfolk to practice their democratic rights, colliding expectedly with the elite’s political and economic interests. The movie starts glaringly with the American occupation of Batangas (early 1900) with the valiant Gen. Malvar and another local hero, Mateo Ilustre plotting its defense. It then takes us to a seemingly restive yet impoverished Batangueño community 100 years later, taking shifting points of view of the people from the grassroots, drawing them initially around one central figure, an unnamed character labeled only as the Publicist and later on, around yet another, Mando— referred to in the story (by the Publicist himself) as "ang tunay na barako".

Ploning by Dante Garcia

The popular Cuyonon folk song, “Ploning” is the main inspiration for the film. It presents the story of a Cuyonon woman’s promise, her struggle with hope and love told from the point of view of a young boy. It is a loving tribute to small-town life, folk tradition and timeless tenets; its textured characters, each with an affecting story to tell; its private locales; its actors' deeply-felt performances; and its shared insights about the different forms of love that bind people to each other. All of these elements come to bear on the principal story of Ploning (Judy Ann Santos), a selfless woman who mourns a departed love but doesn't let her private grief prevent her from helping many others with their personal problems.


The Probe Team

Gintong Pamana (2008)
In 1981, Berto Morales, a farmer employed as a bulldozer operator in an irrigation project in Surigao, struck gold. He discovered a treasure trove of gold ornaments while bringing down a hill to collect filling materials. The discovery, hitherto unknown to the public, is among the largest collection of Philippine archaeological gold in the country as well as in the rest of the world. PROBE reporter Cheche Lazaro searches for Berto in Surigao and from then on, she uncovers that Berto’s gold discovery takes many twist and turns -- involving threats to his life and family. With the help of historians and experts, Gintong Pamana reveals an amazing story about the Philippines’ forgotten civilization.

Gusto mo bang mag-migrate? (2004)
A first on Philippine television—get a glimpse of what reality has in store for those who seek that elusive greener pasture abroad. Probe Team artist-reporter Robert Alejandro returns from his grueling first 6 months in Vancouver, Canada and brings home a personal home video of his stay in the land of the maple leaf—from plunging to the depths of loneliness days after his arrival to apartment and job-hunting. Robert Alejandro is only one of the countless Filipinos who dare leave and try their luck elsewhere.


Alab aims to capture the idealism and intensity of student filmmakers and how they view the world in their young eyes.
Anino by Raymond Red
Winner of the Golden Palm at the Cannes International Film Festival, Raymond Red’s Anino (Shadow, 2000) is a thirteen-minute short about a photographer from the provinces (Ronnie Lazaro) wandering about the streets of Manila. He meets a man in black (John Arcilla) just outside a church, and is nearly run over by an old man driving a car (Eddie Garcia); in between, he has a quiet interlude with a child (Ronnie Pulido). People meet, then meet again; harsh words are spoken, and violence inflicted. The film ends on what may be seen as either a hopeful or ironic note--it’s up to you to decide which.


Strangebrew was launched in early summer of 2001 on UNTV, and became a popular show among Filipino youth. It was hosted by Arvin "Tado" Jimenez, and Angel "Erning" Rivero. The show was directed by R.A. Rivera. The show also featured filmmakers Ramon Bautista and Jun Sabayton, playing odd characters. The reality comedy show features fun facts about how things are made in a factory, or making a movie. Trivial pursuits and road trip like episodes were produced, as means to make a transition from one topic to another.

Bayani by Raymond Red

On the eve of Bonifacio Day, we will be showing a re-mastered version of the film as it marks its 15th anniversary this year. Bayani is a tale about the rise, fall and resurrection of the "Katipunan" and its Supremo and a semi-biography of Philippine hero Andres Bonifacio. Noted for its heavy stylistics and painstaking attention to filmic detail, the biopic also tackles the momentous events surrounding the Philippine struggle against Spanish colonialism.


Bunso by Ditsi Carolino

The film allows us to look into the bleak fate of children from the impoverished slums of the largest cities of the third world. The main character of the film is 11 year old Bunso, who is serving time for minor theft in the metropolis of Manila, in the Philippines. Together with Diosel, who is a few months older and 13 year old Tony, they are passed up against hundreds of adult prisoners in overcrowded cells, many of whom are sentenced for rape, murder and dealing drugs.

Tribu by Jim Libiran (Cinemalaya 2007)

The movie depicts, in graphic detail, the gang culture of Tondo, a Manila slum notorious for its chaos, filth, poverty and violence. The story is told from the point of view of a 10-year-old boy who witnesses the violence as a gang avenges the death of one of its members. The gangs call themselves "tribes," thus the title "Tribu."

Namets by Emilio “Jay” Abello (Cinemalaya 2008)

Namets is a colorful celebration of food as well as love, and the love of food above all, which is central to being Negrosanon and being Filipino. It follows the flirtation between Jacko and Cassie, two Negrenses who grew up in Bacolod, and whose lives revolve around food. The film will be shot on location in Negros Occidental and will be primarily in Hiligaynon, the language spoken in that region.


Brutus by Tara Illenberger (Cinemalaya 2008)

Brutus tells the tale of two Mangyan children, hired by illegal loggers to smuggle wood from the mountains of Mindoro, as they embark on a dangerous journey to deliver the goods to the lowlands. In the process, they discover a world run by the greed of men, a world governed by ideologies that bring about the armed conflict that plagues the Mindoro highlands, the home of their own people.

Manoro by Brillante Mendoza

A young girl tries to teach her elders a lesson about self-determination and respect in this drama inspired by actual events. The Aeta are indigenous people who have traditionally lived in the nation's mountain regions. However, after the eruption of a long-dormant volcano, an Aeta community is relocated to the nearby lowlands, and the children of the Aeta attend state-sponsored schools for the first time. Jonalyn is a 13-year-old girl who has just graduated from grade school and is eager to put her knowledge to use for the good of the community. When she learns that an upcoming election will choose the nation's new leader, she encourages the adults in her village to vote; however, she soon discovers that most of them can't read a ballot and have no idea how the voting process works. With the election only a few days away, Jonalyn organizes a crash course to teach the grown-ups in her community how to take part in the democratic process. However, not all of them are eager to learn, and when Jonalyn discovers her grandfather has gone missing during a hunting trip, she and her father set out to find him before Election Day rolls around.

Jay by Francis Xavier Pasion (Cinemalaya 2008)

Jay is the name of the two protagonists in the film, one is living, the other dead. The living Jay is producing a documentary of the dead Jay, a gay teacher who was brutally killed. As Jay recreates and examines the life of his subject, his own life is affected when he unravels his subject's hidden life and secret love.

Huling Byahe by Rom Dongeto

“Huling Byahe” (The Final Journey) is a story of a young woman named Minda, an OFW returning to her tribal hometown after working abroad for six years—a chapter in her life that is shrouded in silence and from which she returned shaken and wounded. “Huling Biyahe” is a story of trials and courage amidst compelling issues confronting women—gender based violence, family planning, and migration. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Cordilleras and its colorful culture and rituals, “Huling Biyahe” is a film that behooves its audience to rethink harmony between customs/traditions and pressing, modern-day socio-economic issues.


Pisay by Auraeus Solito (Cinemalaya 2007)

Pisay” relates the stories of eight Philippine Science High School (PSHS) students during the volatile 1980s when the Philippines was in its greatest moment in history- as the Marcos Dictatorship is ousted by the 1986 People Power Revolution to Cory Aquino's New Government- as they come of age in a time filled with excitement, conflict and change.

Signos by Mike de Leon

The assassination of Ninoy Aquino in August 1983, generally believed to be the work of the military, became a key moment in Philippine history for a renewed opposition to Marcos. In the same year, Mike de Leon made Signos (1983). The film is an independent Brecthian styled documentary about the anti-censorship protest movement, labor and student rallies, and the funeral of Aquino. Signos is Mike de Leon’s first attempt at an explicitly political film and it is his first film outside mainstream cinema. It was produced on a limited and non-commercial scale by the progressive nongovernmental organization, Asia Visions, known for producing socially relevant films. The screening of Signos is a once in a lifetime chance to see an unreleased work of one of the most brilliant filmmaker that Philippine Cinema has produced.

Kakabakaba Ka Ba? (Will Your Heart Beat Faster?) by Mike de Leon

Mike de Leon's wittily demented musical satire about Japanese yakuza, Chinese gangsters, bohemian hedonism, and the Catholic Church. “Undoubtedly, one of the finest Filipino comedy films ever made, KAKABAKABA KA BA is refreshing, literate, and very engrossing. It says more about our society than many of the so-called important films of recent vintage. In fact, it "was considered by critics as one of the landmark films of the 1980's in its absurd, comical, and irreverent treatment of an otherwise serious theme about foreign control of the Philippine economy… had to hurdle the censors, who originally sought to ban the film for its alleged racist attacks against the Japanese and the Chinese." [CCP Encyclopedia: Film]



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