Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pikchuran sa CINEMALAYA 2008

Tough luck. I got to see only half of the full-length competition pictures, and half of the short films, and the winning films in both categories came from the OTHER half I wasn't able to see. It was tough this year to get into all the screenings I wanted to attend because there were just too many people who watched this year's edition of the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. Which is a good thing. Extend it for another week next time perhaps?

Anyway, among the films I did catch, my favorite was "100." The trailer is misleading. It's actually quite hilarious, with memorable turns from Eugene Domingo and Tessie Tomas as the best friend and mom respectively of Mylene Dizon, playing a dying, cancer-stricken woman who spends the movie accomplishing the tasks she wants to do before she dies (example: pig out on crispy pata and Lapid's chicharon, have picture taken with Mickey Mouse, go skinny dipping). Another one I liked was "Concerto," a period drama set in Davao during World War II. I was surprised it didn't win anything. I certainly prefer it over "Brutus," which reminded me of that DBP commercial from eons ago. It's this year's "Kadin" (which I liked), from the beautifully-photographed-movie-about-a-Philippine-ethnic-group-set-in-a-gorgeous-location-with-an-environment-theme-thrown-in subgenre of Philippine indie filmmaking (slowly dethroning the slum-dwelling-foul-mouthed-prostitute-with-a-golden-heart subgenre from public consciousness). I'm still waiting for a T'Boli movie.

None of this year's movies matched last year's triumphs--Jim Libiran's "Tribu" and Auraeus Solito's "Pisay"--which really set the bar very high in terms of creativity and audience appeal. I heard Best Picture winner "Jay," starring Baron Geisler, is edgy, but it's probably not as kickass as those knife-wielding, gun-toting rappers from Tondo. "100" was fun and touching (and I smell a potential Hollywood remake), but it doesn't come close to "Pisay," "Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros," or even "Tulad ng Dati."

Never mind. With this year's new batch of indie films, Philippine cinema wins again. At last night's awards ceremony, they showed a montage of movie posters of the most excellent Filipino independent films produced in the last four years, and I couldn't help but think, god, we finally have a new canon of excellent Filipino films. I spent the '90s--when I still fancied myself as a future filmmaker--looking up to a handful of scratchy, Martial Law-era movies, the best our country had to offer for such a long time. Now, when international film festivals come a-calling, we no longer have to scramble to find that only existing copy of that Brocka film now owned by that French guy. We now have a lot to be proud of. There are so many in fact that I have not seen most of them.

So here are some pictures (lots of blurry ones) I took of the film fest and the awards night. For an independent film festival, lots of movie industry people turned up for the awards night, including Mother Lily and Gretchen Barreto, which was like Paris Hilton turning up at Sundance (like, what is she doing here?). You won't see my face with the stars though, because I'd have to kill myself first before I turn this into a disgusting, Tim Yap-style, close-kami-you-know society blog. Yaaaaack!

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