BBC Channel's 'Fast:Track' features Cebuano film crew
- Maria Eleanor E. Valeros () - March 6, 2010 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The current project of eight Cebuano short film directors would again take on a “from Cebu to the world” ticket this month via the 30-minute travel program “Fast:Track” (marked with a colon), on BBC World News Channel. The show offers tips and hints all about travel news and recent developments in the world travel industry.

London-born presentor Rajan Datar (of Indian descent) along with his camera crew Pete Changtongkam and Jim Wygal documented the shoot of a scene in “Balut X”, one of the working titles of an “omnibus” feature-length film partly produced by T-Interlace – the people/crew behind 2009 Cinemanila Young Cinema in Competition winner “To Siomai Love”, and the Best Picture in the 2010 Sinulog filmfest “Kurtina nga Pula”.

Interested in works of fresh-starters but very dynamic yuppies, Rajan spent a humid afternoon with the cast and crew of “Balut X,” referred to as an omnibus, which might be considered a first in the local indie film scene – with the collaboration of these eight directors: Remton Siega Zuasola, Christian Linaban, Donna Gimeno, Keith Deligero, Norbert Elnar, Idden de los Reyes, Maria Victoria “Bambi” Beltran and John Labata.

Last week, in a shoot in barangay Cabancalan, Mandaue City, Rajan got a glimpse of how Cebuano ingenuity transformed furniture scraps into “refurbished props” to provide a mock “balutan” within a warehouse. And on how two brothers pull it through being balut vendors, trusting each other, but one gravitating toward a white lie to make a challenging situation appear unmoving and – well – pretty much normal for people eking out a living in the streets.

Rajan took notice of the identity crisis among us Filipinos and asked co-director Keith Deligero if this has in a way affected the screening of indie films here, the very reason why these projects are first watched and appreciated by foreigners over compatriots.

“I think the identity crisis is the identity itself,” Keith answered with a laugh.

“Tons of influences. The Filipinos have in a way lost touch of what is the true makeup of a Pinoy. Also, seeing his life onscreen might not be that appealing at all. So he opts for other films where he can learn something new.

“This might be the reason why there’s so much hype in the reawakening of Pinoy pride as marked by sale of shirts, apparels and gadgets that carry the love of country/culture statements. But yeah, that is the identity and we are faced by that reality that we have to play up with the emotions surrounding the crisis,” he said.

As for Remton Zuasola, he cited that the audience could be the toughest challenge in marketing indie films here. But because art is not confined to how many one can please, the filmmakers would rather focus on bringing out people’s sentiments and enjoy available technology over the need to impose and indoctrinate.

“Mora ra god siguro na’g looking at yourself in the mirror. You might not like what you are seeing. But you don’t stop going back to the mirror because you see in there the need to improve after you spot the flaw,” Remton said.

“Also, with the digital revolution, we cannot just drop the dream just because only a few would watch us. The point is to source out what things would make our craft easier to share, the message to transmit, kay dili god ni ingon na ani kasayon compared sa una,” Remton said.

“Karon lahi na. Even at home, if we strike at an interesting storyline, we can immediately capture that because of available technology. Importante lang gyod is to initiate and make good use of the idea to impart to others that anything is possible,” he further said.

“Balut X” is a contemporary story, and the simplicity of the story might disappoint those who want for indie to raise something of a cultural value. This could be understood as something that would truly delve deep into historical significance or focus on heritage.

“Yeah, plenty of stories to tap. But we have to consider logistics. What we have right now is something we can play up and work on with just what we currently have as we inject new styles and new perspectives into the project,” Remton said.

“Anyhow, we have emphasized in a scene like in ‘Balut X’ that the story is anchored on something culturally relevant. It’s in our alley. Like kining balut-making.”

However, it is emphasized that balut is not singular to Filipinos. Because of the hodgepodge of American, European and other Asian influences, Remton also agreed, that it is not confined to Pinoys. “Hinoon, even in Vietnam there is balut. Nya Japanese nag-introduce diri sa ato. But the fact that it has been bound into our culture, mao nang nahimong dugokan sa istorya. Which goes back to the identity crisis – a crisis so obvious.”

“It might take long before a large following would learn to embrace our films,” Keith added, “as they might not be that confident on seeing themselves or their lives portrayed onscreen, but somehow modern cinema has allowed us to see who we really are as a people and better understand why we live and react and work this way.”

“In such dynamics, there’s a new culture born. A culture shaped on top of the snowballing cultures – and that is the culture of acceptance,” Remton said.

During the shoot, production manager Maryknoll Bernardo showed how it was to make good use of charcoal to replace a fog machine. While makeup artist/director/production designer/actor Donna Gimeno made magic by transforming the looks of an actor into one beaten black and blue by law offenders. To note, the guy does not play the lead role. But as he shared the built of the lead actor, who had an interview with BBC that time, he acted as stand-in.

Cameraman/director Christian Linaban got sweat-soaked just to achieve a perfect frame which is to run at 15 seconds only, but took half an hour to capture with all the lighting and props adjustments done by associate producer/lighting director Winston Cabico.

The feature-length film doesn’t take the format of stories within one big story. Rather, it is made up of slices of life as perceived by the eight directors. This means that each director spices up personal inputs for a specific scene. They call it omnibus. I call it fusion.  

You, too, will have your own assessment and a label for that after viewing “Fast:Track” at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. Philippine time, on Wednesdays. Airing of this particular episode is set on the second week of this month.

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