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Raymond Red's not-so-silent film |


Raymond Red's not-so-silent film

ANDARE AVANTI - Ping Medina - The Philippine Star

Never mind that I am biased about this film. Never mind that I acted in a few scenes of it. Never mind that my own father is starring in one of the most anticipated films of the year. If you have seen the trailer, you wouldn’t disagree that Raymond Red’s latest masterpiece, Kamera Obskura, looks absolutely f*cking awesome.

I chatted with the Cannes award-winning director about awards, film, and the Filipino consciousness. Kamera Obskura may be a silent film, but it just might be the loudest one in this year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival.

SUPREME: How long has Kamera Obskura been in the making?

RAYMOND RED: The idea to make a film on the phenomenon of the kamera obskura came to me slowly over decades of piecing together bits of ideas. The fascination with the phenomenon of light forming an inverted image in a dark chamber, the idea of using such as a metaphor for our lives, the idea of doing the film as a vintage silent film, these all came together from thinking and rethinking over the past three decades of being a filmmaker.

Which films influenced you for this film?

I’m pretty sure people today would instantly think I’m trying to ride on the success of the recent Oscar winner The Artist, but in reality I did not even know about that film until late last year. I had been inspired to do this since 1980 when I first saw the German silent classic Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and partly by the 1982 film Zelig by Woody Allen. 

It looks like a very serious film.

The funny thing really is that because the film is silent, and I did not really write detailed dialogue, the actors were free to express themselves during takes since no one would really hear their words. So in many scenes the actors would be acting really serious and yet would be kidding each other with nonsense anecdotes. It is also funny that due to force of habit, the crew and staff would be quiet during the takes as though we might be heard over the camera recording.

Do you have a favorite scene?

My favorite scene would have to be when the lead character Juan (played by Pen Medina) first arrives in the metropolis and later meets the “camera keeper.” These scenes show the fascination for the big city and also establishes the film’s philosophy through the Camera Keeper’s words.

Your trailer got the loudest applause at the Cinemalaya press conference. Congratulations.

At first, I thought the crowd applauded because it was the last trailer and the end of the whole presentation, but then I realized that a lot of people were reacting to the fact that the film’s images stood out as very different among all the other trailers. Now there is so much pressure for us not to disappoint.

You’re the first Filipino director to win the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes. How has your filmmaking evolved?

Ever since I won that Palme d’Or award, I have always maintained that winning awards has never been a goal for me. As much as I have to admit that the prestige that an award gives you does help in one’s career, I have always said that awards are more an affirmation of the merits of one’s work, but never a proof that you are indeed the best, not even in that specific competition lot. Awards are simply a set of opinions by a set of judges. I was still the same dedicated filmmaker I was after the award. I would like to celebrate such recognition, not as an individual achievement, but rather an affirmation of a collective achievement of Filipino independent cinema coming of age.

Is this a film the younger generation needs to see?

Personally, the ultimate goal is to reach an audience and it is a continuing struggle every time I put out a new work. I believe in progressive filmmaking, and if I inspire, provoke and influence, then I am successful as an artist, whether the audience remembers me or not. With Kamera Obskura, I simply wish to continue my goal of developing an audience that is sensitive and reactive to the the issues presented in the film.

Do you think Filipino films can compete globally?

I believe Filipino films that are sincere would definitely be noticed globally either through film festivals or through international distribution markets. But it should never be the main goal of a filmmaker, we should always focus on developing a local audience for these films that tell the stories rooted in our own realities.

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Kamera Obskura will have a gala premiere tonight, July 21, 9 p.m. at at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Main Theater.

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