9 Films in Cinemalaya Cinco that I’ve Already Seen

With the wealth of interesting movies to be screened in Cinemalaya Cinco, picking which films are worth your time and money is rather tricky. From over 50 films in exhibition and in competition in this year’s “big, small film festival”, I saw 9 of them. Here’s my two cents.

The following films are ranked from my most to least preferred:

Written and directed by Chris Martinez, this film about a dying woman and the 100 things she wants to do before she dies is definitely not a rehash of “The Bucket List”. Every movie about death will always have some drama. But “100” never swerved to Hysteria Lane. It is not because Martinez does not take death seriously. Perhaps he feels that there will always be joy (even just a smidgen of it) in every single moment of living, no matter how miserable or hopeless our situations may be. “100” is my most favorite Filipino film of 2008.
Rating: 4

“Jay” is an interesting depiction of the way media fabricates the truth and an expose of the obsession of everyday Juan’s to 15 minutes of fame. Humorous, realistic, and razor-sharp.
Rating: 4

The “panggagahasa” mentioned in the title does not only refer to the sexual kind. It encompasses all other acts that strip a woman of her dignity, making her vulnerable to consider quick fixes no matter how implausible they may seem to be. Alvin Yapan’s debut is a tale that tackles domestic abuse and romanticizes Pinoy folklore. It is an odd combination, but gripping nevertheless.
Rating: 4

“Padyak” explores the mysteries of life and man’s interconnectedness with each other. The film is an ode to the circle of life as it burst with philosophical anecdotes and personal reflections. The compelling screenplay and peculiar narrative structure make this film a tour-de-force showcase and an engrossing mantra to life.
Rating: 3

Raya Martin brings us back to the time when independence is a noble but unattainable concept. “Independencia” is mostly a visual fare with an allusive story characterized by Philippine culture and history. It aims to imitate the cinematic style of the early years of the US colonization. Martin shot the entire film in vivid black-and-white inside a studio and reconstructed a forest setting by dressing it with potted plants, painted backdrops, simulated rain, flying sparrows, and a flowing river. The idea is to create a realistic fake forest to emphasize the artificiality of the so-called independence the characters are enjoying.
Rating: 3

Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil chronicles the road to recovery of an abused child. Although we have heard of this kind of story in a number of Bantay Bata TV reports, the humor and the beautiful violin music make it more interesting. “Boses” is a moving narrative with a voice and a heart.
Rating: 3

The focus of this Tara Illenberger film are two Mangyan kids beleaguered by illegal logging and child labor activities. “Brutus” utilizes what it has in its fullest extent by employing long shots of the vast forest and sprawling stream channels. The shots are not perfect but are still captivating. The execution and theme may be too ambitious for its resources, but the filmmakers succeed in portraying the hard knock life of the Mangyans.
Rating: 2

Frankly, there is nothing amazing about Raquela Rios, a Filipino transvestite prostitute who dreams of walking the streets of Paris with his Prince Charming in the form of an affluent, straight Westerner. Being a victim of a confused narrative, it engages in documentary-styled confessionals dwelling on the trivial, non-involving matters interspersed with Raquela’s cross-continental trip. Essentially, it is just another film about transvestites, which happens to be made by an Icelandic national with a Filipino subject.
Rating: 2

At four hours long, “Imburnal” is a painful experience. The imageries are jumbled and the vignettes being shown are at its most random order. You’ll feel as if Sherad Anthony Sanchez doesn’t have a concrete story to tell but is merely confusing us with his peculiar brand of faux visual poetry.
Rating: 1


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