Director Adolfo Alix Jr. is one of the most visible filmmakers in Philippine independent cinema, releasing three to four films each year. His breakout hit Donsol premiered at Cinemalaya and was submitted to the Academy Awards as the official entry of the Philippines for the Best Foreign Language Film category in 2006. He directed the slice-of-life dramas Adela and Aurora, the controversial gay films Daybreak and Muli, and a Cannes exhibition film Manila, a twinbill project that pays homage to Lino Brocka's Jaguar and Ishmael Bernal's Manila By Night.
Cinema One Originals parades its bevy of interesting characters anew. We have a bolo-wielding vigilante, a balikbayan, a mail-order bride, a prisoner-for-hire, a runner for the Abu Sayyaf, a braggart, and two brothers looking for their father.
Below are capsule reviews of each of the competing films in the festival, together with cast information and honors received during the awarding ceremony held last November 14, 2010.
The films are ranked from my most to least preferred.
Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria
Director: Remton Siega Zuasola of To Siomai Love fame
This is the second team-up of Somes and actor Ronnie Lazaro. Last year, Lazaro took home Best Actor trophies from Cinema One Originals and Gawad Urian for Yanggaw. In Ishmael, there's a possibility that this will happen again. Lazaro plays the title role with gusto. No sense of remorse is seen on his face as he wields his bolo and delivers the entire town to their final destination. With similar intensity, Mark Gil plays the villain with all its nuances and ironies. He quotes verses from the Bible as quickly as he orders his men to behead those who hinder his plans. I believe Lazaro and Gil essay their roles convincingly enough to put them alongside the likes of Fernando Poe Jr., Ace Vergel, Bembol Roco, and Tony Ferrer.