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Not a release: Latest from the Brockas

BLITZ REVIEW - Juaniyo Arcellana - The Philippine Star
Not a release: Latest from the Brockas
The Palanca novel-winning filmmaker, Khavn dela Cruz, by way of the Brockas will launch the vinyl Manila by Night (inset photo), after the movie by fellow national anarchist/artist Ishmael Bernal, on Jan. 28. Two of his latest films, Nitrate: to the Ghosts of the 75 Lost Philippine Silent Films 1912-1933 and National Anarchist: Lino Brocka, will have their premiere at the Rotterdam Film Festival, from Jan. 25 to Feb. 5.
Photo by Radek Lavicka via Khavn dela Cruz’s Facebook page

Filmmaker Khavn dela Cruz messaged to say that two of his latest films will have their premiere at the Rotterdam Film Festival, from Jan. 25 to Feb. 5, and the band Brockas of which he and other directors from the underground are members, will have a vinyl album launch on Jan. 28, by way of a concert by the band at the Theater Rotterdam.

Latest works by not a filmmaker Khavn are Nitrate: to the Ghosts of the 75 Lost Philippine Silent Films 1912-1933 and National Anarchist: Lino Brocka, a pair of promising anti-documentaries that go against the usual grain of the genre. Clips and teasers sent by the director bare as much, footage never less than agent provocateur, film is always a new discovery in his hands. Both are part of the official selection.

Nitrate, in fact, is full of runaway ghosts and vampires and whatever it was occupied Filipinos at the start of the last century, at least as gleaned from fleeting exposures.

National Anarchist splices together scenes from the late national artist, a different perhaps surreal take on Brocka, including unforgettable excerpts from Cain at Abel and a number of takes of man and woman kissing, macho dancers sashaying in corridors of by now torn down clubs, as if trying to piece together a template from our broken, wazak lives at the time.

The Palanca novel winning Khavn by way of the Brockas will also launch the vinyl Manila by Night, after the movie by fellow national anarchist/artist Ishmael Bernal, but you can just call him Lino, Cinemalino. If it’s anything like the YouTube shell-shocking recent release Delubyo, then we can expect more sacred anarchy coming our way: Innovative and alternately humorous vocals by Roxlee, and dread atmospherics on guitar by Lav Diaz in search of the lost chord. Khavn himself prefers the keyboards, adding to the thick jam punctuated by a woman half screaming and half moaning in background, all in the name of wazak and roll.

Wait there’s more. On the night the artist Rene Aquitania died, Lav Diaz filmed a 10-minute performance by the father-and-son tandem John Lloyd Cruz and Elias in the wilds of Batangas. Paghilom is a tribute to the Cordillera artist non-parrel, part of a rare line of since departed shamans Santi Bose and Robert Villanueva.

Aquitania the original renegade was perhaps best known for his performance art, including suspending himself for weeks on end from the ceiling of a gallery, and pushing a cariton from Baguio to Manila before the end of the last millennium. The critic and painter Minnouh Murakami may have said it best when he posted (paraphrase mine) that the late artist proved that you don’t need galleries or patrons or auctions to do your work, however, seemingly idiosyncratic or offbeat, so long as you get it done, release it to an audience however inattentive.

Journalist Frank Cimatu, who must have been first to post about Aquitania’s passing (Patay na si Rene Aquitania), shared some reels of their tropa’s last trip to Sagada, a bottle of Jameson in tow while sitting before a fire. A cursory search of the Internet would reveal that the Cordillera artist also has some sketches hung on the walls of a café in the highlands, and that his Moroccan wife committed suicide.

Aquitania also spent some time in the apartment of Raymond Red in the late ‘80s, during the filming of the short Studies for the Skies.

Paghilom or healing has Elias taking John Lloyd to pasture, the actor on all fours stark naked, except for a net mask or muzzle making it impossible to rummage for food. With the wind whistling at the sides of the camera, a bottle of Irish whisky surely would come in handy. As footage rolled proceedings threatened to explode.

Don’t even know how old the guy was. Maybe as old as the mountains, and the last of the red-hot bohemians.

KHAVN DELA CRUZ

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