Cinemalaya16, series of dreams
The 10 short films in competition after the organizers decided to postpone the full feature category for next year

Cinemalaya16, series of dreams

BLITZ REVIEW - Juaniyo Arcellana (The Philippine Star) - August 18, 2020 - 12:00am

The 16th edition of the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival reeled off virtually this August, not at the usual Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) but through streaming service Vimeo, forced to good by the pandemic and keep everyone indoors.

But not for long it seems, because the imagination is a harsh wanderer, and only shows that you can’t put a film festival down for long, even if one has to view it on the limited screen of a tablet or cellphone.

What follows are random images and/or spot reviews of the 10 short films in competition, the organizers having decided to postpone the full feature category for next year, which will then have a bumper harvest of 20. The spotlight on shorts this year is like an inadvertent return to roots, the festival having shared a CCP home with the Gawad Alternatibo ng Pelikula at Video, which in turn took off from the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines that screened the first radical shorts of Raymond Red.

These notes hew to the Borgesian concept that the best review is the reproduction of the actual work itself, nothing more, nothing less, a word-by-word and scene-by-scene playback of the film in question, as if to see is to believe. And oh how we wish it were so, coming off like a series of dreams one after the other. Streams until weekend.

Ang Gasgas Sa Plaka Ni Lolo Bert. Janina Gacosta and Cheska Marfori, directors.

Two old men bonded by lost loves, vinyl and great use of available light. Outstanding turns by Dido dela Paz and Soliman Cruz.

Pabasa Kan Pasyon. Hubert Tibi, director.

Widowed mother of sons who could not be more different try to get her back to reading the pabasa in the annual Lenten rites, but have another think coming. Set in Bicol, won Best Screenplay for director Tibi, or not Tibi (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Fatigued. James Robin Mayo, director.

Perhaps the shortest of the list, on the exploitation of the overworked, with lots of scratchy imagery, loops reminiscent of the Lettretists although this with audience participation encouraged.

Tokwifi. Carla Pulido Ocampo, director.

Offbeat sci-fi meets mountain tribe, resulting in a feast of juxtapositions, possibilities of romance, empathy and old black and white TV that feels the Bontoc mountain chill. Won Best Film and the Netpac Jury Award.

Quing Lalam Ning Aldo, or Under The Sun. Reeden Fajardo, director.

Endearing gay comedy from culinary conscious Pampanga, suggesting that on rare days you can go home again. Won the Audience Choice award.

Ang Pagpakalma Sa Unos, or To Calm The Pig Inside. Joanna Vasquez Arong, director.

A personal memoir of Yolanda in Tacloban, possibly with a lot of previously unseen footage, whose rawness can be striking seven years after the typhoon but never lacking in compassion. Won the Jury Prize from organizers, meaning Second Best Picture.

Living Things. Martika Ramirez Escobar, director.

Romance in 3D if not 5G, or what happens when cardboard cutouts fall for each other — or how one perceives the other in freeze frame — in a world grown less real by the day. Won Best Director for Escobar.

Utwas. Richard Salvadico and Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay, directors.

Father and son, deep sea divers, try to cope with the elements as they risk life and limb to put food on table. Documentary feel with notable underwater shots, small wonder it would come up empty-handed.

Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss. Sonny Calvento, director.

A parody on mall culture, with the tragicomic saleslady and Eugene Domingo lookalike forever at odds with her supervisor from hell, played with usual aplomb by Mailes Kanapi. The resolution can only be humorously dehumanizing.

The Slums. Jan Andrei Cobey, director.

A bit over the top but rightly so because it stands the hackneyed poverty porn on its head, and how a typical Tondo family’s life can’t be all that typical.

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