Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cinemalaya 2011: Shorts Programme A

Would I have watched these films if my cousin wasn't required by her professor to do so and she asked me to come with her? I'll be honest - most likely not. But it's not an unpleasant experience. In fact, I really like the five short films we watched last night.

Just a disclaimer - I am not a film student. I'm just an ordinary film-goer who even likes the film Armageddon (yeah, so what?) so sorry if my views are disjointed, simplistic and/or just don't make any darn sense.

First up was Un Diutay Mundo (One Small World) by Ana Carlyn V. Lim. I was really confused about the language used by the unseen narrator at first. My cousin told me it was in Spanish and I wondered about it for a while but decided to forget about it and concentrate on the story (and the subtitles!). The story is about a boy who has lived in this small room for his whole life and befriended by a girl who wanted to be a writer when she grows up. The ending was foreshadowed early on, but when the narrator was finally revealed, I definitely got the chills. 

There are so many mysteries in this film that will linger in your mind after watching it. What is really up with the boy and why did he have to be locked up in the first place? What is the origin of the narrator? How did the girl get inside the boy's room? Is this all some metaphor for something my little mind can't grasp right now?

My cousin didn't like or understand the film, which she attributed to her distraction about the language. I kind of liked it - the lines about why the girl wanted to become a writer, especially. The acting's a little awkward for me, though. Still, nice film.

The second film was Samarito (Samaritan) by Rafael Santos - the shortest film of the five. From the title, you can probably guess what it's all about. A guy helps out in the most unusual of situations. An anti-hero, in a way. I honestly didn't think much about this one. It was short and sort of predictable. And the corn syrup... I mean, the blood distracted me.

Third was Walang Katapusang Kwarto (An Endless Room) by Emerson Reyes. Shot extremely close up and in one location only (in fact, just in a bed!), this film relies entirely on the dialogue and the acting and chemistry of the actors. Well, it freaking works! I was skeptical when I watched the first lines. I thought that it was going to be chock full of corny one liners, but as the film went on, it became more natural and believable. Kudos to the two actors of the film who made it so. This movie was really enjoyed by the audience in the theater and made them laugh in most parts. My only quibble was that the ending was a little unexpected, but I guess they needed to end the film with something.

Fourth on the list was Every Other Time by Gino M. Santos. This was also shot in one location, this time in front of a desk with a -what is it?- Mac notebook. If the previous film was a study about a couple's relationship, this one quickly chronicles a few days in the life of a college student. And that was it. It was a bit, sorry for the term, conyotic for my taste. Except for the creative shots in the film, I didn't really get it. But after I thought about it, I guess if film can be used to chronicle the lives of the poor (the so-called poverty porn), why not the rich, young, and spoiled? That's freedom of speech and equality.

... Which takes us to the last, and my favorite of the five, film. Niño Bonito by Rommel “Milo” Tolentino is a total 180 of the rich life and takes us to the life of a little kid from the ghettos named Boni whose raps or fliptop steal the show. His life leaves a lot to be desired - living in a tiny house with a drug addicted mom, an abusive stepfather, and a rugby-sniffing brother - but you have to admire him for being who he is despite all that. Believe me, you'll find yourself wanting to adopt the boy or at least get him a spot on Pilipinas Got Talent. The film ends on ambiguous note, but I can't help but feel uplifted and optimistic after watching it.

The film just works for me: funny, yet poignant; realistic, yet there's still a hint of the mystical. Acting was spot on, everything is just believable, and the shot on the bridge with the birds that made me wonder if it was arranged beforehand or did God have a hand in that? Brilliant.

In summary, the five films of the Shorts Programme A flow well together and made for an enjoyable 50 minutes or so. Based on this, I'm looking forward to seeing the two films we are scheduled to watch. I encourage everyone to also check out the films in Cinemalaya 2011 if they have the time or if they can still find tickets. (I heard that they're selling out fast.)

For more information about the independent film festival and the films featured, visit their site at Films are only being shown at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and Greenbelt 3 in Makati and runs from only July 15 to 24.

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