NETPAC means Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema. Yearly, they do a selection of independently-produced full-length films and shortlist two handfuls of them flicks, showcase them and then select one winning film from that batch. Or something like that. This year, the NETPAC films from the Philippines were also showcased during the Cinemalaya independent film fest at the CCP and this week, they’re being showcased at UP Cine Adarna.
Let’s take a look at one of them.
d. Ned Trespeces
p. Onnah Valera
Pitch: Shot entirely in the province of Iloilo in the Visayas region of the Philippines, the story revolves around two girls working in a resort who resort to some illegal shenanigans as a result of needing money.
Catch: The film language sometimes intends another thing other than the one intended, aney? Ehehe basta, read on.
Cooked up by the indefatigable tandem behind Dirty Kitchen Productions, namely my friends from film school Ned and Onnah, it’s amazing how this duo could come up with full-length films in the true spirit of the term “independent” or “indie.” I mean, suddenly they disappear for months and then bam! They have a new film hehe. I admire them for just doing it. It’s something I really need to do myself hehe. You inspire me guys, really!
But talking about the film, it’s just a simple fare, really, only it’s set in the colorful Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo. A good opportune time to shoot a film, like how another NETPAC filmmaker, Zig Dulay, went up to Baguio during the Panagbenga flower festival and shot a film there using the festival as backdrop/milieu/setting. LOCAL GIRLS also did that, and the simple story set in this space worked naman for the narrative it was trying to tell — that of two minimum wage-earners finding an opportunity presented to them by fate or circumstance perhaps, and they decide to take a chance and go towards the “darker side” of life. The opportunity being illegal (i.e. finding a huge stash of marijuana inside a dead resort guest’s room and then reselling it during the festival), of course they are bothered by their conscience sometimes, but their life ambitions are larger than these circumstances (one of the girls wants to apply to law school) so they move on, but of course not without external elements surrounding them as well (i.e. one of the girls’ friends is a narcotics agent or something officer-of-the-law ek like that).
Simple, right? But it works in its simplicity. Being set in Iloilo as well, it doesn’t come off as just another film with beautiful touristy shots but we also get to see snippets of Iloilo as the girls roam around their area. I also like the way the duo shot the characters mingling with the real festivities of Dinagyang so that was something.
But talking about film language, sometimes it speaks of a different thing from the original intent. Like I’m not so sure if there are overt undertones (overt na, undertones pa! Chos!) of a Sapphic kind when it comes to the girls’ interactions. Somehow, this feeling that there are some sort of lesbian undertones happening is very prominent… or maybe it’s just me, and the way I am extra-sensitive about such things, picking them up in my queeradar or maybe naghahanap ng kakampi mode hehe. I usually pick this up when I see the scenes of intimate friendship going on with the two characters: quiet moments by the beach, drinking sessions, stuff like that. It doesn’t help that the musical score or the song picked during such scenes have some sort of “love story” feel (especially the lyrics), so it heightens my queeradar readings of the two hehe. But again, maybe that’s just me. Or that’s film language for you.
For a full-length film, it’s rather short (just a little over an hour) but it’s also enough, I think, for the story it’s trying to tell. Not too overpowering, just right. And this being indie, we forgive some technical glitches here and there (i.e. the marijuana props, dude hehe but I already told Ned) because it comes with the package and the territory.
Try to catch the film at the UP Cine Adarna theater this Friday, 05 August at 2:30pm.