Most of our gripes with the local filmmaking industry revolve around those movies produced by large, profit-oriented studios. It must be emphasized that the shortcomings of mainstream producers are not reflective of the whole of Philippine movie-making output and that independent filmmakers continue to be the brightest spots in the Philippines’ cinematic landscape. In this spirit, and considering that the Cinemalaya is the best local platform to showcase the works of the most promising of our filmmakers, we’re giving you our top five movie picks to watch in the Cinemalaya 2013 film festival.
1. “Babagwa” by Jason Paul Laxamana
Synopsis: An Internet scammer falls in love with a wealthy old maid while trying to swindle her using a fake Facebook profile.
Babagwa shows promise, and the acting appears solid and powerful. If it can just deliver on everything the one-minute trailer managed to suggest (nail-biting psychological suspense), then this is a sure hit and may even cross over to mainstream commerciability.
2. “Nuwebe” by Joseph Israel M. Laban
Synopsis: Nuwebe follows the story of Krista who at the tender age of nine got pregnant from the sexual abuse perpetrated by her own father. Her story is complex. Krista refuses to see herself as a victim. With an almost documentary style, Nuwebe follows Krista’s story as she demonstrates a level of resilience uncommon to her age. Her mother on the other hand is torn between her love for her child and her love for her husband.
Short, but powerful trailer. This has the potential to be a serious cry-fest. It would also be interesting to see how the director can coax the much-needed emotional gravitas from the child actress in whose tiny shoulders this movie appears to rest upon.
3. “Debosyon” by Alvin B. Yapan
Synopsis: Mando, a Bikolano devotee of the Virgin of Penafrancia injures himself at the foot of Mayon Volcano. He is nursed back to health by a mysterious woman named Salome, and in the process, they will fall in love with each other. When Mando invites Salome to come with him to the plains, Salome refuses, saying a curse prohibits her from leaving the forest. Mando relies on his devotion to the Virgin of Penafrancia to lift the curse, making him realize just how inextricably linked are the virtues of love and faith.
This movie is attempting to weave the grandest themes of love and faith with mysticism. It would be interesting to see if it succeeds. Also a plus, the trailer showcases some of the best shots of the Philippines ever taken in a movie. It can probably double as a tourism video.
4. “Ekstra” by Jeffrey Jeturian
Synopsis: A socio-realist drama-comedy film following a usual day in the life of a television bit player as she embarks on another shooting day of a soap opera. As the shoot goes on, we get a glimpse of the truth in the ruling system of the production as well as the exploitation on the marginalized laborers like her.
Three points: One, Vilma Santos, whom we adore both as an actress and a politician. Two, the cameos from local stars not afraid to poke fun at the industry they work in and love. Three, the trailer is uproariously funny. This is a must-watch for us.
5. “Sana Dati” by Jerrold Tarrog
Synopsis: Andrea has accepted her fate by agreeing to marry a man she does not love. A few hours before her wedding, someone arrives to remind her of the true love she once had and lost. Sana Dati is a love story about bittersweet compromises and real-life decisions.
Okay, so the trailer appears to take itself too seriously, and it is almost impossible not to notice elements of a classic soap opera (over-the-top acting, always impeccably dressed characters, scene shots almost taken out of a fashion magazine) but the chemistry between the two leads is powerful and palpable, and the plot is definitely engaging. Probably the most commercially viable of the lot, we’ll watch this to see if it can transcend the normal trappings of a usual romantic movie.
You can check out the Cinemalaya 2013 screening schedule here. Cinemalaya 9 will run in Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) venues from July 26, 2013 until August 4, 2013, with screenings at 12:45 pm, 3:30 pm, 6:15 pm and 9:00 pm from Monday to Friday. Screenings on Saturday and Sunday will be at 10:00 am, 12:45 pm, 3:30 pm, 6:15 pm and 9:00 pm. Call the CCP Booking Office at 832-1125 local 1404 for ticket inquiries or purchase tickets online here.