First 5 Films You Should Watch This Cinemalaya 2012

7:14 PM

July is the month of Philippine independent cinema. As usual, the well-known Cinemalaya film festival, now on its 8th year, puts the spotlight on alternative films no longer exclusive to the intelligent film enthusiast. Now, indie films have been extended to the mass audience who were all spoon-fed with sickening romance, slapstick comedy and teledrama movies created by the country's major movie studios. 

Although it's sad to say that only during this film fest do people really pay attention to indie films, at least even for a short period of time, Filipinos get to be exposed to a wider variety of narratives, filmmaking style and different types of issues and themes which help shape culture and thought; from an independent, not commercial perspective, among the general public.

Yes, films about social and political issues as well as poverty and art matter. However, the audience is no longer confined to these subjects anymore. This year, Cinemalaya offers a buffet of films for every type of film buff.

Some of us wish we could just watch everything. But with 25 films for showcase and only a limited budget in your pocket, how do you choose which one to watch? Here are my top personal picks this Cinemalaya 2012.

Bwakaw (Director's Showcase)
Eddie Garcia is one of the well-respected veteran actors in the industry. Seriously, this old guy has made countless of films and television series portraying various roles (name it, he has probably done it) in many different genres. This time, he portrays an old gay man in his twilight years in a movie that is all about growing old and growing old alone with nothing but a loyal dog, Bwakaw by his side.

Why I Want to Watch It:
I always feared of growing old with no companion. Once, I told myself, I never want to grow old because once you do, you become helpless (alagain kumbaga), useless and well, pathetic. So I ask myself, what if I end up being alone right before I die? Or be left to rot in a home for the aged?

The film is about continuing life despite the fact that death is near. I want to watch the movie (first on my list by the way) and be inspired to live even when time will come that I'll lose all the youth in me. As kids, we hardly care about our grandparents but it's time to bring back the compassion for the old, because we know nothing about how lonely it must be for them.

Mumunting Lihim (Director's Showcase)
Direk Joey Reyes asks his muse Judy Ann Santos to play the role of the villain in his first-ever indie film - a complete extreme of the roles she has played in all her acting life. In this film, Mariel (Judy Ann Santos) dies and leaves behind a journal which contains all the secrets and well-kept feelings and emotions that when discovered may shatter the relationships of her remaining friends (Iza Calzado, Agot Isidro and Janice De Belen). 

Death should be a closure but it could also be a terrible beginning and realization of what was hidden by the living.

Why I Want to Watch It:
It's Direk Joey's Cinemalaya debut. Of course, it's exciting and intriguing since I'm looking forward to how a mainstream director who has done several romantic-comedy films would attack the indie film scene. To some, the film might be compared to the popular teen series Pretty Litte Liars but I beg to differ. 

I think what's interesting about this is that once a friend dies, whatever we find out about this person, we can never confront anymore. In real life, our friends DON'T tell us everything. A lot of us may have feelings that we never really managed to express even to our closest friends maybe because we'd rather avoid complications and choose to shrug off things instead. And this is part of every relationship - a blind side.

Kamera Obskura (Director's Showcase)
Raymond Red, one of the pioneers of experimental cinema makes some noise with his silent film, Kamera Obskura, which attempts to make and re-imagine the non-existent Philippine experimental silent film shot in black and white and projected in the same film rate during the 1920s to 1930s.

Why I Want to Watch It:
I remember what a bore it was watching the silent movies of the past in my film classes. But this time, I actually believe the director made what seemed to be an art film that this generation would understand. Though the film has all these "vintage" qualities, there's a sense of modernity in it that will make it an apt tribute to the Filipino cinema heritage for the more mature film audience without losing its appeal to the youth of today.

The Animals (New Breed)
A debut feature film of 22-year-old director Gino Santos, The Animals tells the story of three spoiled and rich high school students who engage in hardcore partying, violence and promiscuity. In the end, they face the consequences of their misbehavior caused by their arrogance brought about by their so-called "privileged" life.

Why I Want to Watch It:
First, I don't like how the film's selling point is that it deviates from the "poverty porn" tradition. Poverty films are important because at the end of the day, you have to admit, more than 50% of this country is poor and that my friends is what you call reality. People who have no money either eat garbage, sell their internal organs, commit crimes and live in small, filthy houses or under the bridge - it's not an exaggeration, it's simply true.

Instead of taking pride in "that," the film's strongest point should be the fact that it shows Filipino teenagers in their most unwholesome image, the complete opposite of how the mainstream media portrays them. You need to watch it, and so do your parents because this film gives us a glimpse of how some of the kids these days really are. It teaches parents a lesson that they should get to know their kids more because the younger they are, the more they experiment and in turn, (without a clue) put themselves up for the dangers of the "real world" they actually know nothing about.

Ang Nawawala (New Breed)
Of all the films in the roster, I think this is the film that best appeals to the youth. It's a coming-of-age story which features romance, a struggling family, self-discovery plus hipsters on a vibrant backdrop of the local music scene. 

Why I Want To Watch It:
The film looks creatively promising and fun to watch; nothing heavy just a feel-good movie.

On my part, I love watching films so I suggest you go ahead and watch everything. EVERYTHING! If you're on a tight budget, well, I hope you can wait for Cinemalaya Goes to UP this August since all the tickets will be sold for P80.00 only!


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  1. I suggest that you also watch REquieme by Loy Arcenas :D

    1. Yup I'm watching since my boyfriend's tita is part of the cast of that film. The ones above on my blog entry are the first 5 Cinemalaya films that I'll be watching lang naman. :) I'll even watch the short entries!

  2. Maganda sa shorts B yung gawa ng UP and yung paghihintay sa bulong:)

    1. Yes actually interesting din yun! Kasi it's about waiting for someone to die! :)

  3. Thanks for your insightful tips!


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