Monday, July 30, 2007


Had a chance to catch one half (or 5) of the 10 short films in competition at the recently closed Cinemalaya. My, was I disgusted. I am surprised that these things even made the cut.

Some of them are thesis films submitted to either the UP or DLSU film faculties hence the experimental feel to them but this, however, doesn’t mean they can make crap considering that most look like good money was spend in producing them.

The series opened with the most boring of them all, Doble Vista. So much for a starter. Terribly contrived and a total waste of a good idea. Crappy camera work, too. Production values are also way below sea level.

Misteryo ng Hapis is story of a man who still hasn’t come to terms about his being gay and the horrors of the past which includes non-acceptance by his very own father (sounds novel enough, don’t you think?). He ends up mumbling lines repeatedly (I can’t recall them anymore out of sheer boredom) while his mother says the rosary with her friends during the pa-siyam for his father who’s just died.

Incidentally, his dad used to warn him never to join in in the prayers with the suggestion that this may make him gay or something to that effect. The images switch back and forth from the pa-siyam, images of when he was a kid, and a theatre production symbolizing his very own struggles (the character, Jay, is a stage actor here, too, so the use of this technique is acceptable, although tried and tired).

Somehow, I was given an impression that his father’s death – an oppressor – didn’t give him the liberation he greatly deserves. Instead, he is haunted by the memories of him. In the end, one is forced to ask, “So what was the point?”

I am glad though that this was made in pure Capampangan, although the lead star, Andoy Ranay (of Duda/Doubt fame), should have been rehearsed a million times in speaking Capampangan properly. You really can’t have everything.

Nineball disappoints. It’s a case of “Never judge a film by its poster.” I was expecting something totally fun, funny and witty (as judged from the poster, which was very amusing to say the least. No, not this poster I have posted here. They used another one during the exhibit).

It’s a story of Bodyi, a natural born billiards player, whose career – or whatever was left of it – ended the day a ball – the 9 ball, of all things – got, uhm, stuck in one of his nostrils. The ball later was seen, in all its gooey-ness, being hit about on the billiards table.

I mean, seriously, how juvenile!

In this series, only two stood out: Rolyo and Tagapagligtas.

ROLYO is a story of a girl who leads a rather monotonous existence at the farm with her parents. Sometimes she would be sent out into the fields to catch birds to sell in front of the Cathedral on Sundays. There’s a scene there where the nets were the only ones you can see above a sea of talahib. Very nice, methinks.

Anyway, she and her father would paint the birds (this is funny because vendors also do this to chicks these days), and off they go to the Cathedral. The film suffers from really bad lighting compounded by the fact that the weather was also pretty much uncooperative. In fact, if you would look closely, most films in this Cinemalaya, one time or another, have storm clouds brewing in the distance. In last year’s edition, a lot of films were filmed around the location of Malate and Baywalk, but I digress.

I am surprised that they had to take a tricycle to the church. I mean, they only sold one bird and released the rest, I wonder if they earned anything at all! The girl asked her Dad if they can see a movie after they sell the birds (Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code was showing) but ginagabi na sila, says her dad, and buys her two post-New Year horns instead (at Php 30 EACH! Ack!).

Towards the end, the girl was seen uncoiling the horns, made of discarded films negatives, and looking at the images against the candlelight. Awwwww…

Save for some inconsistencies and poor lighting, ROLYO does have its awwwww moments that makes for great potential when improved upon.

Writer ALVIN B. YAPAN has written stories that have received recognition from the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature (1997, 2002, 2003) and NCCA Writers Prize (2005).

Tagapagligtas is probably the better of the lot. Set in Quiapo – again, ang walang kamatayang Quiapo of ironies – it stars Sid Lucero as Anghel, a Quiapo istambay who brings young, impregnated women to Lupe (Sharmaine Buencamino), who does assisted, pre-term deliveries (abortion, if you must). Indulge me but cliché-ish as it may seem, we can opt to tag Anghel as Anghel ng Kamatayan.

Lupe goes about her usual business, visits the church, lights candles, and comes home to do her operations. All this ended, presumably, when Anghel got her only daughter, Cristina, played by a rather forgettable actress, pregnant. The poor girl tried to do abortion procedures on herself and died from the attempt.

Parang, okay. How ironic. It’s something straight out of a tabloid, from start to finish (Headline: ANAK NG ABORTIONIST, PATAY!).

So, who is the real tagapagligtas here? The Nazareno of Quiapo? Lupe? Anghel? The irony of it all?

Your guess is as good as mine.

My two regrets: One, bothering to spend Php 100 to see the 1st half. Two, easily giving up and not seeing the second half because it has 2005’s best director in the short film category (not that he was officially hailed “best”; I am entitled to my own opinion), Lawrence Fajardo of Bacolod City, whose entry, Kultado*, was a film of strength, utter rawness, and excellent storytelling. And the editing… [swoons]

I hope Mr. Fajardo forgives me for my tendency to generalize. Please know that you have in me a most devoted fan. As for the rest, best of luck for Cinemalaya 2008!

*Won the Grand Jury Prize in 2005

Poster credits: Cinemalaya Official Website

1 comment:

estan said...

unfortunately, I didn't get to see this batch, only Shorts A. Rolyo pa naman ang nanalo ng best short.

kung na disappoint ka for some of the shorts, mas lalo ako na disappoint sa "maikling kwento." :)

thanx for visiting by the way.