Archive for the film students Category

The future is here, but the future is not now

Posted in Cinema One Originals, dramedy film, film students, film teacher mode, indie films, love story, Philippine Cinema, Philippine film industry, romantic comedy films on February 16, 2015 by leaflens

Or in short, a review of that film that made you quote lovelorn quips this love month. Or earlier if you caught this in its festival inception.

312926_10150401822735190_748755189_10316644_525666240_nTHAT THING CALLED TADHANA (2014)

d., s. Tonet Jadaone

dop. Sasha Palomares

sound. Jedd/Bryan Dumaguina

c. Angelica Panganiban, JM De Guzman

Pitch: Great concept. Fresh take on storytelling. More stories like these, please.

Catch: A good story should be realized by good directing. Pulso is the key. Find your original. Leave duplicates at home. Just saying.

That local movie that got people buzzing again is a good one. This is good news for the new darlings of Philippine cinema, and I’m quite glad that I’ve had the privilege of peeking at the early stages of these darlings’ lives back when they were film students and I their film thesis adviser/film teacher. Teaching back then, I’ve always reminded these kids that they are going to be the future of Philippine cinema if they so choose to accept that path. After all, they’re there in our classroom learning about the art and the craft of this form we so love. As a teacher, I’m realistic:  I know that some of them are just there for the 4-year clocktime course while some are there to gain knowledge and move on to other fields, leaving a handful who will actively pursue different aspects of filmmaking in their lives, be it in the mainstream, the alternative, or the indie. And if they so choose to be part of the film future, then they better prepare for it in the present by looking into the past. For we are only doomed to repeat the mistakes of history when we don’t really learn from it. Tama po ba, Sir Teodoro Agoncillo? But I digress.

The year 2014 was a literary one for this film reviewer and I didn’t have the time to peek into what’s happening in cinemas both local and foreign since I chose to focus on the literary world of my huge universe. That at lumablayp muna lola mo hehe, kaya you know. So I kinda missed Direk Tonet’s other efforts, but I’ve been hearing some buzz about a couple of works she’s done in the past. Alas, since indie filmfest skeds conflicted with my work skeds, I missed all screenings of all things. So I was really glad this Cinema One entry had a commercial release, of course picked up by Star Cinema and supported by the same people who were in that ABSCBN-led indie filmfest. Of course, this might also mean that the same “story consultants” that festered sat on panels to revise review scripts/films already shot were also present in this film to give it a few katay directives pointers. Well, you get the drift.

Like what I mentioned in my pitch, the one thing that this film has is a really great concept. And I bet the concept also had a good script that went with it. The thing with Tonet is that she was able to capture the essence of today’s Pinay who undergoes real shitty hindi-ito-pang-romcom-nampotah type of love stories, and heartbreaks. Like I’ve never been so pleased to see a pretty heartbroken girl say Putangina! or Tangina naman! na pagkalutong-lutong mas malutong pa siya sa Lapid’s Chicharon pare, all because her heart is hurting. Totoong ganito ang tao kapag heartbroken at totoong masakit kaya totoong napapamura ka at totoong wala kang class, finesse o anumang kagalang-galang sa hitsura o pagkatao mo minsan kapag brokenhearted ka tangina tulo-uhog habang hagulgol and all. Angelica’s performance of the brokenhearted Pinay was well-captured here, great performance talaga si ati. Ever since I saw a different side of her naman as a non-sitcom type of comedian in HERE COMES THE BRIDE, pak na pak talaga ang acting ni ati.  That’s why I got doubly curious to see this film when I saw her topbill it.

But then here comes JM, once the darling of our business unit sa dos when I was there in my recent past as part of a team conceptualizing teleseryes and helping out in reality shows. I don’t know if it was the way he interpreted the character or if he still had some remnants of his personal troubles that crept into his professional performance, but his acting really appeared so uninspired. As in hindi siya mukhang inspired to shoot, much less to work. But I think this meh mode niya worked to build the character of the meek dude that will contrast with the loud gal character of the film. Kaya lang sana minsan naman, sana in-injection-an nila siya ng caffeine sa katawan man lang, know what I’m saying. Or maybe I’m just nitpicking. Kape pa more!


I felt like some scenes showing the boylet’s characters were axed, therefore reducing his performance into a dedma type of guy that ended up not being realistic. Like towards the end, when he mentioned that he mentioned about a person taking care of him with Biogesic or something, I was like “Nasaan ‘yung eksenang ‘yun?” ganun. Weird limbo scenes pare.

The concept of the film is not entirely new. It’s the usual tossed salad of a formula wherein you throw in elements already familiar to viewers and cook them up to serve something hopefully familiar but also new. As I’ve always said in my scriptwriting classes, you can’t reinvent the wheel but by golly push that wheel into a different direction so we could see new scenery and take us to places only you could see from your unique perspective. And literally, this film took us there: to places where we experience heartache so devastating that we tend to forget who we are or where we come from or, more importantly, where we’re going now, now that the love is gone, ‘ika nga ng kanta diyan somewhere. Not new because we’ve already seen films na strangers on a train/bus/plane/what have you ang peg, and of course my generation — and theirs — had Richard Linklater’s Before series as a default peg. But what’s great about BEFORE SUNRISE is that the long train ride produced a chance encounter of a boy and a girl who had a hell of a time killing time by talking to each other about mundane things and profound things. Here in TADHANA, all we see is a girl bawling her eyes out in a Rome to Manila flight, and their only chance encounter, aside from having met at the airport so boylet can help girlet with her overweight luggage, is seatmates sila and boylet couldn’t care less when girlet was watching the quintessential love-lost-and-love-found-but-sana-ako-na-lang-love-mo-ulit-kasi-tanga-ako-nung-pinakawalan-kita local romantic drama film ONE MORE CHANCE in her laptop. That’s about it. I mean dude, I’ve had more conversations with strangers in a 2-hour trip from Manila to Davao/Dumaguete/wherever Philippines, and this is a Rome to Manila flight ha. Ang dami na dapat nilang napag-usapan, lalo na ang unang crucial thing: na sana nagpakilala muna sila sa isa’t isa, karugtong ng pagpapakilala ni boylet sa sarili kay girlet sa airport. I mean, more convos siguro, since tinulungan siya ng boylet, regardless of her sabaw mode from her mega cryola mode k. Yes, we want to be cinematic but being cinematic works when we try to be more realistic at first.

And speaking of being realistic, it really fell flat on its face when meh boylet just went with the flow and accompanied girlet to wherever the hell she felt like going. I mean, sure, realistic pa rin if you ask a “stranger” to eat in a restaurant with you or go to a videoke so you could sing your broken heart out. But to actually have another life form engage you into going on a 500 pesos+ fare ride (one way) going somewhere (so mga lampas 1k yan if roundtrip) out of Manila is a stretch, especially if there was not enough getting-to-know-you-muna moments between the two of them. What TADHANA lacks is what BEFORE SUNRISE has developed well: exposition. As in, we get to be exposed to the who/why/what/where/how come stuff of the characters, before they decide to jump to a higher plot point to take the exposition to its more interesting rising action, hopefully to take us to the wonders of the plot’s climax and wonder where in the world this climax will take place/happen, and how. Alas, this is where I sort of disengaged with the good concept turned unrealized script, as the directing didn’t lead us to these seemingly simple but really truly important “smaller” scenes. Are they not as cinematic for one’s taste? It should be, since it is in the smaller and simpler scenes that you get the most profound insights, or elicit the most intimate of moments, between characters. Yes, this is realistic, but it could also be cinematic. Think about it. How many films have banked on the simplicity of shots, of a moment, a scene captured not because it has a gazillion things happening at the same time, but only one thing happening at that moment, captured quietly on film, a moment for us to ponder on. Pulso. Pinupulsuhan dapat natin ang panahon, ang eksena, ang detalye ng kuwento. Sadly, the film wanted to hurry up to the climax of things that it forgot to set up these important pulses that could make the film beat more towards its apex. Sayang.

Sa henerasyong ito ng budget travelers, may pera at panahon ka bang mag-up and go nang basta-basta without thinking of your job (na sa later scenes lang nabanggit), your money (yaman nila to be buying bus tickets just like that ha) or your time? Iangkla ang cinematic sa realistic para mas lumipad siya nang husto. #justsaying

Sa henerasyong ito ng budget travelers, may pera at panahon ka bang mag-up and go nang basta-basta without thinking of your job (na sa later scenes lang nabanggit), your money (yaman nila to be buying bus tickets just like that ha) or your time? Iangkla ang cinematic sa realistic para mas lumipad siya nang husto. #justsaying

And speaking of not quiet, cinema has its way of speaking to you without letting you hear anything. A good, quietly captured moment could actually speak for itself, and there’s no need to drown it with melodramatic musical score. The film also suffers from this drowning from time to time that I wonder if the filmmakers or the producers are scared of “not hearing” a scene. If so, then it becomes television fare, where the execs seem to be scared of that thing called dead air. In cinema, there is that thing called pregnant silence. Ang daming laman kahit wala kang naririnig, dahil sa ang nakikita mo ay marami nang sinasabi agad. At ang dami niyang feels! You got a great actor na and a great story to boot, so let them speak for themselves sometimes. Sayang these moments, especially when the girlet was just feeling the moment, kunwari ‘yung nasa Sagada siya and shouted her frustrations amidst the clouds atop Mt. Kiltepan. Her shouting on that quiet scenery could have made a great poignant scene. But again, it was drowned by musical score. Heartache needs to be felt lang sometimes, not heard. Let the scene breathe on its own. I hope they keep this in mind next time.

And this is why I titled this review the way I did. Because no matter how we tout that the future of Philippine cinema is already here, the future that we hopefully want to happen is not quite happening now, at least not yet. Not when the mainstream’s heavy hand is so obvious in shaping the form of these future-leading folks, not when these young ones feel like they have to be or mimic their mainstream mentors in order to be taken to the fold. In a way, if this is the objective — to become one with the fold — then this film has already succeeded. But seeing that the future may also want to have a different take on things, then maybe we still have to see what they will come up with next, in order for us to get excited more about how they could revive the future of this art we so love. But yes, this is indeed a great start.

I could see why so many people like this film, the same reason why I like it: its believability. I mean, sino ba naman kasi ang hindi na-heartbroken sa Pilipinas, at may populasyon nga dito na nagtatangkang maglakbay kapag ganito ang moda. And yes, laging ang default ay bundok: Baguio, Sagada ganyan. Natawa nga ako sa concept na ito, at salamat at may nagtanong nito finally. Puwede rin namang beach ang puntahan, di ba? Bilang archipelago tayo, mas madali ‘yun. Pero siguro dahil love could move mountains dapat ang peg, bundok ng tralala ang inaakyat ng Pinoy para doon hanapin ang sagot sa tanong ng lahat ng heartbroken: huwayyyyy or huwaaaay meeeee. And of course, andiyan ang unending love quotes and love songs to make you cry. Pero sana din naman, nailatag ang characterization ni girlet bilang love-quoting girl, kasi iisang quote lang lagi ang kinu-quote niya, and it kinda gets tiring teh. Quote pa more, girl. Dami pa riyan. Buklat ka ng Eat Pray Love baka makatulong hane? Or Shakespeare. Yes, these are the new things that we want to see in our local films. This believability works. It’s just the delivery that lacks a bit and I find wanting. In Tagalog, tinimbang nguni’t overweight sa ilang bagay at underweight sa iba. Yes, we want a new cinematic recipe indeed, and thanks for this really nice bite. But I hope the cinematic commercial cookie cutter gets challenged more next time. Hashtag just saying.

Again, great story. Loved this film because of the good concept. Witty will truly save the world, to quote Tonet’s other business, but I also hope someday, witty will be brave enough to break out of the mold, to discover her own. Andiyan na naman, eh. And the audiences are ready for it; long overdue, actually. I guess all I’m saying is: talon pa more! 🙂

Good luck with the next one. Looking forward to it.


[All images swiped from the internet. Salamat sa mga nag-upload.]


semestral pelikula peek

Posted in film students, film teacher mode, UP Film Institute on October 17, 2011 by leaflens

One of the perks of being a film school teacher is that you get to see a lot of creative talent develop in front of your eyes. You see their enthusiasm, their work, their hard labor, their perseverance amidst defeat, and their talent. And last week, we saw them again — in our school’s semestral film production thesis defense of our graduating seniors.

may pa-poster-poster pa. taray lang ha! chos! pero wagi ito, pramis! keep it up!

I had two kids under my wing as thesis adviser who defended this sem. And I must say, I am so proud of these two. Two genres I like working with myself — radical documentary filmmaking and children’s stories — were their main handles. That’s why it was always exciting to work with them during consultations, and it was even more rewarding to see them battle their own selves in order to produce great, great work. Yes, there were moments of doubt and, I assume, fear and loathing (especially towards me! hahaha!), but hey, if push comes to shove, good talent becomes exceptional talent. Sometimes, these kids don’t know they are diamonds in the rough, and a little polishing won’t harm them a bit.

(I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t be vocal about these things because I could be read as biased but what the hey! I’ve always wanted to write thesis defense postmortems like this but in my earlier years, I felt restricted because I felt I had to be “objective” [also because I held an academic administrative position in our unit back then] but I think it’s time I break that self-regulatory instinct. But that’s just me. 🙂 )

This has always been my style of handling in terms of guiding and mentoring these young generation of talents, ever since I started teaching back in 2005. I guide them until they see what they are capable of, and sometimes, we don’t see eye to eye in terms of this guidance. Sometimes they rush into things prematurely, sometimes they plod through egotistically. But once they have slowed down and stopped to actually ponder on things, then real genius emerges. And I secretly smile at the triumph of such a revelation. Growth really comes in when you least expect it. And no, I don’t take credit for it, even if they cite me. Perhaps I just know that all creative spirits need space to expand, and I just give them that. C’est tout.

I’ve handled lots of kids before who are as talented and as driven as this bunch this semester. And like a proud mama, I sit back and smile as they taste the fruit of their labors come defense day. And it is then that I know that my deed is done… and the rest of their future is theirs to navigate. No, I did not set the course for them nor did I point to them the coordinates to follow. No, I am not that messianic. I just merely tell them that there is a world to navigate, and that there is a map, and that there are bumps along the way. The rest is up to them to figure out (yes, no spoonfeeding, either!). I don’t step in or meddle needlessly, unless they want me to. But if they need pointers, I’m always there for them, willing to share my thoughts. It’s that simple, really.

Bonchon moves! Di ba????

This is my (nearly) 7th year of teaching film students, and this is my 13th semester of guiding thesis defenders. A mighty long time, if you look at it in earth years. But you know what? I’ve never felt any younger. These kids inspire me — to think, to still teach (even if dementors want me to apparate na out of Hogwarts), to create my own creations I’ve (nearly) abandoned/put on hold. And I can’t wait to see what they will produce next. And in some instances, I can’t wait to work with them, as well. Already am, actually. And you know what? It’s really, really cool.

because of this kid's film, my new mantra is "bad mamaw, bad mamaw, bad mamaw!" 🙂

Philippine cinema is in good hands. So guys, create!

Congrats to this sem’s batch of films. You all did great, actually. Please do more films. Don’t let anyone or anything destroy your artistic souls. But always check ego at the door, ya hear??? 😉

[all photos swiped from Mai Calapardo’s FB]


Posted in comedy film, film students, indie films, Philippine Cinema, queer cinema, queer issues in film on September 7, 2008 by leaflens


originally posted at


d., s. charliebebs gohetia

pitch: a group of visayan gay/trans people, whose livelihood is to join gay beaucons, goes on a roadtrip to find their own inner journeys and outer fabulousness despite the odds

catch: a bit longish, could be edited down a bit pa

congrats to upfi student bebs for helming this first full-length of his. maganda ang topic at hindi siya seasonal: mga gay beaucon joiners na ang tawag pala sa kanila e “thank you girls” kasi lagi silang natatalo o hindi nakakaabot ng first place. premise pa lang, panalo na! kakatawa siya hahaha.

nainis lang ako at hindi ako marunong mag-bisaya. gusto ko pa naman maintindihan yung nuance ng gayspeak nila doon kasi kakaiba e. but the subtitles work naman.

what doesn’t work is that repeating narrative cycle style sometimes, reminiscent of other nonlinear narrative films like some mexican films na di ko na maalala title, basta andun si gale garcia chorva kyuti. may malaki dapat dahilan kung bakit babalikan ang ikot ng isang parte ng naratibo, at dapat e sa ibang anggulo naman ito i-take. yung nangyari kasi, parang iisang anggulo lang, at tight lang ang isa at yung isa e wider shot. weird lang.

may feel din siya ng PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, this aussie film of yore na ganito din ang tema, na ni-ripoff naman ng american film na TO WONG FOO THANKS FOR EVERYTHING JULIE NEWMAR about the same time. inevitable ang comparison kasi road trip ito ng trannies at may eksenang nasa top ng bubong ng jeep at nagpapalipad ng colorful cloth.

the VO also reminds me of Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN na di mo alam kung sino ang nagsasalita tapos marami siyang alam sa buhay ng mga tao sa film. iffy lang na in the end, yung jeep pala ang nagsasalita. siya ang VO. actually, i think it could work better kung walang VO na lang, totally. ngayon ko lang naisip. hm.

pero other than that, masaya naman. the acting was good, the lines are witty and funny, lalo na yung nagpapraktis sila ng mga QnA portion while travelling. pinaka-paborito ko ito:

maitim na vakler: i have a question for you. define darkness.
vakler na nagre-rehearse: darkness is here beside me.

or something like that. hahahaha! basta aliw ito! if only for the lines. hahaha! saka maganda yung kuwento. nga lang, minsan it felt pepered with advocacy, with the beaucon women spewing lines straight out of taskforcepride hahahahah! well, this is good pero it might not be a bit realistic, kasi sa totoo lang, hindi naman masyadong advocacy-aware ang karamihan sa mga beaucon joiners na ganito e. siguro dapat tinimpla lang. i get the point but sana hindi nasobrahan.

all in all, happy ako na sasali ito sa vancouver. sana manalo! congrats guys!

isa pang naalala kong exchange, thanks to lush’s blogpost.

vakler 1: okay, here is your question. what is your waistline…and why?

hahahahaha nakakatawa! ang dami pa nito e. basta! watch!!!!!!!!

Cinemalaya 2008 full-length films

Posted in Cinemalaya, film festival, film students, indie films, Philippine Cinema, UP Film Institute on August 18, 2008 by leaflens


originally posted at

pagsama-samahin ko na rin sa isang buhos para happy.

sige na nga, bago ko makalimutan, chichiryahin ko na ang cinemalaya full-length films.

in order of viewed films.

d. ned trespeces
s., p., ned trespeces, onnah valera
dop. jke see

pitch: about the lives of young and old call center agents, the newest kind of yuppies on the philippine scene

catch: camera handling needs polishing

i like this film, and not because mga kabarkada ko ang gumawa hehehe. kaya maiintindihan din nila (i hope 🙂 ) ang constructive criticism na sasabihin ko dito.

i like ned’s sensitivity as a filmmaker. his sensitivity as a scriptwriter shows kasi. his material is not that mainstream. it actually treads on that border between mainstream and independent, in terms of storytelling, story handling, (choices of) characterization, and narrative development. this is evident in his star cinema-produced script JOLOGS where multiple characters are given short times to interact with each other and to have each of their lives unfold a bit, creating a narrative chain that sustains the viewers’ interests from beginning to end. he utilized the same technique in TRABAHO, his first digital full-length, about the travails of jobhunting.

with this new film, he still utilizes the same sensibilities by unfolding the lives of call center agents. and i like the humor and wit; so contemporary kaya ride ka agad. i think that’s the charm of his material, and his films. and for me, that works. wala kang masyadong mabigat na three-act structure na aabangan (very indie) pero may makukuha ka pa ring narrative satisfaction in the end or within the course of the film (very mainstream) so best of both worlds talaga.

my glitch about this film is that bitin siya. i guess kung may mga ganitong naratibo, talagang mabibitin ka kapag konting panahon lang ang naiuukol sa mga karakter. pero kung kumpara sa TRABAHO, parang mas buo iyon in terms of narrative expectations. o siguro talagang naaliw lang ako sa MY FAKE kaya i want to see more.

glitch din ng kaunti ang handling sa character ni mailes kanapi, that team leader-manager (whatever it’s called) na bida. i’m not sure how mailes saw her role, pero parang caricature-ish ang treatment niya sa karakter niya (na very teatro ang dating for me) kaya parang na-off ako minsan. parang exag na hindi, parang OA na hindi. lam mo yun? basta, parang ganun ang pull-tug sa character attack. feeling ko nahihiya ang director to direct her baga. minsan talaga, may ganun.

yun ding camerawork minsan. may konting depokadong eksena na yung bg ang focused at ang fg ay hindi. sorry jke! pero i think this is really the folly of the digital technology e. kasi sa shoot ko sa gma, minsan ganyan din ang nangyayari sa cameraman. i wonder why. last na. once, nakita din ang reflection ng camcrew sa eksena. iwas lang sana! 🙂 peace, people.

well, yun lang naman. this is still highly recommended. i like that it doesn’t give a heavyhanded lecture on the pros and cons of call center life. casual lang, and that works well.

d. joel ruiz and abi aquino
c. ces quesada, mark gil and a host of others

pitch: about the landlady’s search for the person who threw a fetus in the garbage near her apartment compound

catch: nasan ang naratibo?

what happened to the drained look of this film? it doesn’t really help the story at all.

as usual, storylines like this are not new. put different types of characters in one setting and let them interact. put a whodunit path para may konting tatakbuhan ang kuwento. and then end it. but how? ayan ang naging prublema ng film. it knew what to start with, when to start, but sustaining what it started was hard for the filmmakers. in the end, we just get an ending na…wala, kelangan lang tapusin. hindi siya bitin, kasi wala kang makagatang malaman na kuwento in the first place. it doesn’t work, sorry.

it doesn’t help din na the characters are expected na sa kanilang roles. masyadong cookie cutter na siya. yung iba naman, di mo alam ano purpose. yung iba, weird na out of character siya. i’m particularly iffy about those two garbagemen who were feeling icky and all that when they picked up the trash and saw a fetus inside. hindi na sila ganun kasensitibo sa mga napupulot at nakukuha nila sa trash! have you actually seen actual garbagemen pick up trash and all? ang weird lang nito sobra. hay.

sayang pera.

d. paul morales
c. meryll soriano, shamaine buencamino, nonoy froilan, jay aquitania

pitch: about a wwII story of a family who hid in davao but has music as their refuge ek

catch: hindi kumeri ang pitch na to, kahit well-funded siya!

memoirs of a war nga ang pelikulang ito, tungkol sa isang pamilyang kung saan-saan napadpad kakatakas sa japs during the war, where their father endured hardships and all. sadly, hindi ito lahat nakikita. bagkus, nalalaman ito through expository dialogue na kinukuwento na lang ng mga karakters. eg “kawawa naman si tatay, dalawang taon siyang kinulong ng mga kempentai(sp?) at pinahirapan..” chenes. haysus. nagpelikula ka pa. sana bumili na lang ako ng kopya ng book na pinagbasehan nito, matutuwa pa ko.

tapos weird lang na musika eklat ang nagtatahi sa pamilya eklat para mabuhay chorva, e before the war, wla naman tayong nakitang ganoon kabigat o memorable na episodes kung saan music prominently figured in their lives (cross-reference: watch polanski’s THE PIANIST!), save from one scene or two na tumutugtog sa bahay ng piano si ate at sister at nakikinig ang boylet siblings. kaya sobrang walang impact yung na-ship na yung piano sa bukid na pinagtataguan ng family tapos they played pa a concerto sa bukid for the japanese soldiers na naging friendships na nila. hay! ang hirap! ang hirap tanggapin ng narrative unfolding nito. i’ll just read the book siguro… sayang ang akting. akting! weird din na parang may mga sexual tension ang characters, especially the siblings! ewan ko. may ganung feel. basta. o baka gutom na ko while watching this. hohum.

d. francis pasion
c. baron geisler

pitch: a gay reality tv news reporter follows the wake of a murdered gay man, twisting some truths and enhancing some facts all for the glory of tv ratings

catch: TUHOG REDUX, anyone?

the film is very talkative and aptly so, for the medium that it presents in the film (the world of television broadcast chuva, especially of the current affairs/public affairs type). however, i just find it too talkative sometimes that i need a breather/break from too much words. i wanted visuals.

visuals. yes, they’re here, and the camerawork is okay naman. very tv lang nga din ang approach at attack. sige, apt na rin sa kuwento.

actingwise, okay siya. nakakatuwa si baron lalo na yung nakikipaglandian siya kay coco martin, yung “basaan tayo. sasabunin kita” ek. hahahaha! typical! funny. he deserved the award.

the story is okay. contemporary, i guess, that’s why the foreign judges found it quaint. but for someone who has seen jeff jeturian’s TUHOG, it might be bothersome. kasi parehong-pareho ng handling. does it matter that tuhog’s scriptwriter was jay’s script consultant? i’m not sure if that was a good move on sir bing lao’s part. and the director thanking jeff during the screening was…weird.

it’s a kind of film you only see once, and that’s it. novelty ang dating. sayang. siguro the narrative handling could have made a difference in turning it into a timeless piece. pero parang…mahirap ata yun. talagang pang-here and now lang siyang pelikula. yes, sometimes merong ganun. at eto na nga yun.

d. paul sta. ana
c. agot isidro

pitch: a writer deals with the separation from her husband by writing her feelings and hardships into a fiction novel which we also see unfold along with her own narrative

catch: dumaan lang siya, yun na

it’s nice na ang isang pelikula ay nag-focus sa isang writer–at fiction writer pa!– bilang bida. tapos pinakita din ang kanyang sinusulat na kuwento sa atin. novel within a film. tapos nakita natin na ang mga karakter na nag-portray ng fictional characters niya ay ang “real-life” characters na nakakasalamuha niya sa buhay niya (hello shades of dorothy in THE WIZARD OF OZ). pero parang hanggang doon na lang ang charm ng pelikula.

ito yung film na dadaan lang sa iyo, walang masyadong major impact or emotional dent. hindi ko mawari kung bakit. ripe naman ang naratibo for plausible richer scenes, given the kinds of conflicts it presented. kaya lang parang dumaan lang talaga siya, just like the pasada ng taxi na siyang bida sa nobela sa pelikula. dumaan lang.

in fairness, magaling ang akting ng mga aktor. they were handled well. the camerawork i’m not too happy about. may off sa framing, lalo na yung nagsasalita ang characters tapos nasa edge tapos parang saliwa pag pinagdikit ang dalawang shots shot this way. basta. there’s something wrong about the visual language; medyo hindi pa siya hasa. passable, pero needs polishing sobra.

d. jay abello
c. christian vasquez, angel jacob

pitch: bacolod bred ex-lovers work together to find the right cuisine of their upcoming restaurant, and in a way find that that is the way to each other’s hearts. ek.

catch: saliwa ang camera handling te

cute itong film! one-time watch lang siya pero may novelty kahit papaano. that o baka biased lang ako dahil i love negrense (tama ba term?) cuisine. i heart bacolod and the food and the quaint surroundings and the diction of the ilonggos. tama, biased lang ako. hehe. i wanna be an honorary ilonggo kasi hahaha!

cute yung film. the story is simple: love story pero hindi siya a la star cinema-kilig factor, pero you still find yourself na kinikilig. it helps na siguro maganda ang onscreen chemistry ng actors. at ewan ko lang kung bakit pero when i saw angel jacob outside the cinema, hotness siya! kahit sa screen, hindi naman gaano. hahaha. now this is biased! hahaha. ewan.

in fairness, maganda ang film kahit na obviously rahrah pro-negros chorva ang materyal, pero ang maganda, hindi halata ang pagka-rahrah niya madalas, at hindi salamat-po-dept-of-tourism ang approach. although weird lang minsan yung character ni christian na chef chuva siya pero di niya ma-sense ang basic ingredients ng negrense cooking chuva. flaw itong malaki. sana ibang motivation na lang ang binigay sa kanya kung bakit hindi niya bet ang local cuisine nila in the first place. sayang.

off din ang camerawork dito. may eksenang nagsasagutan na ang lovers pero nakatalikod pa rin si gelay. among other shots. sayang. needs polishing.

all in all, its simplicity worked. hindi siya spectacular, hindi siya pang-award, mainstream ng konti ang sensitivity pero pumapatok naman. watch!

d. chris martinez
c. mylene dizon, eugene domingo, tessie tomas

pitch: a woman diagnosed with cancer lists the 100 things she should do before she dies, and does them

catch: BUCKET LIST, anyone?

sure, sure, what plot is original these days, eh. pero the handling of this story was good. so very good. madaming napanalunan ito, directing and script ata included. well-deserved. simple lang, polished in an upper middle class way (think early viva films of the 80s), and acted well. maganda yung nuances ng characters dahil lahat sila buong-buo, have a life of their own, and can stand alone when tested. okay siya. natulungan siya ng magandang script, yung good editing pulse at acting and direction. sample: yung scene na first time nadiskubre ng nanay ng may kanser yung sakit. nasa ospital at nakaratay si mylene, sabay pasok hagulhol si tessie at hyperventilate, cut to next shot nasa wheelchair na si mylene at si tessie na ang nakaratay sa hospital bed. hahahaha! simple yet well-executed in all counts. winner! nakakatuwa siya. at gusto ko ang script kasi witty rin siya, contemporary witty, contemporary witty na lasting, hindi lang pang-here and now ang quality. now that’s classic!

gusto ko rin na hindi heavyhanded ang mga eksenang dapat e sad, lalo na yung patukoy sa kanser niya. maganda yung pagka-casual ng treatment pero may weight pa rin, lam mo yun? basta, okay siya. nice. watch!

d. ellen ongkeko-marfil
c. coke bolipata, ricky davao, cherry pie picache

pitch: a bitter violinist and a physically abused boy find bonding as healing via the music of their violins. ek.

catch: not so new narrative

the story’s not new. sampu sampera din ang ganitong seeking refuge of abused souls via art ek, especially music. marami nang films na ganito. what’s refreshing siguro dito is the superb talent of the child prodigy na naglalaro talaga ng violin. doesn’t require too much acting prowess din kasi pipi ang role niya. although minsan parang so unicef-heavy ang film na parang nakakairita na. pero maganda na may ganitong awareness sa pelikula. at maganda rin na ang approach ay walang tuldok sa abuser father na posibleng ma-reunite with the abused son later on. pero di na natin kelangang makita ito, kaya di na nila pinakita. open-ended. ang pinakita lang, ang superb violin playing prowess ng kid, and that’s that. simple. mentor-student narrative. no big expectations, and sometimes, that works. enjoy the film lang. yun na. it’s worth watching, if only to see coke bolipata act and his child prodigy play. nice siya.

d. michael cardoz
c. archie adamos, garry lim

pitch: the story of the last day of a prisoner who serves as the prison cook

catch: parang nanatili siyang pitch

michael’s my former student sa upfi and i really like the way he handled his thesis short film. but playing the mainstream way might not be his biggest quality, as yet. i’m not sure what happened to this film (okay, i partly know hehe but i’m not telling!) kasi parang ang feeling e tinamad na siyang ituloy ang development ng kuwento (consequence ba ito?). maganda sana ang ina-achieve nitong “real-time mode” in unfolding of the narrative, pero dapat it was also well-choreographed in the way shots were made. we get the sense na pinapa-feel sa audience ang banality of life in prison, yung pagka-bagot, boredom ek. pero there’s a way of doing this, not just through making longtake babads with scenes without an emotional focus. sayang.

saka my biggest beef here is, hindi marunong maghiwa at magtalop ng foodstuff ang mga ranchero! dapat may konti silang culinary training before the shoot. kasi kung ang reason e preso sila at lalaki at wala talagang alam kaya nag-imbento sila ng sariling style, hindi ito akma. halatang hindi marunong maghiwa ng sibuyas man lang ang mga ito. at ang kapal nilang magbalat ng gulay! dapat alam na nila by now how to make tipid sa paghiwa para mas maraming laman di ba? hay. sorry maikel, avid fan ng lifestyle/food network ang lola mo kaya i can’t let this go. but the others, i think i can.

sayang lang ang ending. again, naratibong bitin ito. sayang, malaki pa naman ang potential ng material. sana hindi nabitawan ang development…

d. tara illenberger
c. yul servo

pitch: mangyan children who work as helpers of illegal loggers in mindoro meet lots of “social issue” obstacles in their task

catch: nalunod sa NGO-ship ang kuwento

maganda sana sobra ang premise ng pelikula. it has an obvious statement on the environment, particularly illegal logging (although off lang yung music video-ish sa gitna na may modang ‘mahalin ang kalikasan chorva’ to the tune of a joey ayala song). but along the way, the story was marred by a wayward unfolding that left the story without a clear-cut focus.

it’s a simple story sana about two kids who want to make extra money the illegal way, by being “brutus” — people who bring the cut wood to the lowlads via hidden means. along the way, dami nilang nadaanan at bawat dinaanan e dagdag sa kuwentong nakapagpalayo ng konti o malaki sa main plot nila. i guess that’s the point: too many subplots na sinubukang i-resolve isa-isa at minsan nakakalimutan balikan ang main plot ng dalawang bata.

it doesn’t help din na ang mga dialogues dito mostly sound like advocacy pieces, lalo na when that waxing poetic of a character ni ronnie lazaro as the army soldier with a golden heart speaks his mind. tapos si yul servo andun din to speak for the NPAs and why their fight makes sense pa rin chuva. kaya lang for a neps, hindi siya magaling gumalaw sa bundok! ang labo. parang ma-o-off balance siya sa pag-step sa kahoy, sa bato, etc. wala siyang liksi ati. parang hindi niya alam kung san tatapak — and not because hindi siya familiar sa place kaya nagpatulong siya sa kids for directions. not to mention, as mentioned by another indie filmmaker somewhere, na ang bright color ng shirt niya, at bagong bago ang jeans! hihihi. nitpicking i know pero may point: that adds realism kasi to the story, kaya sana the production designer focused on having a believable and deliverable mise en scene. sayang.

high point ng film ay ang editing. i guess that is still tara’s strength, given the years of service niya editing mainstream full-lengths. that one worked, especially during the scenes na natangay ng rumaragasang ilog ang balsa at mga bata. panalo ito te! the other aspects, sorry pero they still need lots of work. the camerawork is good, though. good colors and shots.

okay yun na. trabaho lang folks, walang pikunan!

see you next year!

Cinemalaya shorts 2008 (short films)

Posted in Cinemalaya, film students, indie films, Philippine Cinema, short films on August 12, 2008 by leaflens


originally posted at

respite from work and escape from crazy women/crazy men at work (and there are a lot lately, i tell you) — cine chichirya.

shorts muna. cinemalaya shorts, that is.

mabilis lang to. sobra. meryenda level.


d. Rommel “Milo” Tolentino

pitch: a scavenger boy, obsessed with buying a raffle ticket that could win him a tv set, does all things possible to achieve this simple yet touching goal

catch: editing needs a bit of polishing

i loved this one! never mind that non-professional actors were acting (somewhat) in this film. it appeared a bit natural nga e, parang docu style, lalo na yung nanay na nakukulitan sa anak niyang pabili ng pabili ng tv, at ng tiket para manalo ng tv sa raffle. classic! neorealism at its finest ito. siyempre natulungan ng magandang pulso for editing para lumabas ang story, at na-achieve naman. sobrang aliw ang treatment na magaan lang, walang paghuhusga, kahit na mahirap sila o ang sitwasyon, pinapakita lang as it is, unfolding lives, na walang filmmaker-from-the-upperclass-looking-down-on-filmed-subject-from-the-lowerclass mode, unlike previous cinemalaya shorts na nakita ko na sobra lang matapobre ang lenteng ginamit sa kamera. hay nakuh. pero si andong, deserve niya ang panalo niya. congrats sa inyo, nerissa!

d. Joel P. Ruiz

pitch: sabi ng program “is about a woman who overcomes the grief of losing her adopted son”

catch: parang hindi nakita ang pitch na iyon

in UPFI, we have a subject called Film 175 Film and Literature where cross-disciplinary arts like cinema and literary works, particularly short stories and novels, are dissected and compared. siguro kelangang dumaan sa klaseng ito ang mga filmmakers kasi hinugot nila ang kuwento sa short story ni master literary storyteller jose “butch” dalisay, na if i am not mistaken, the title is “Some Families, Very Large.”

hands down, sir butch is a master of the craft of the filipino short story in english, and his writings usually picture and sketch very vivid scenes and emotions that weave into thought-provoking stories. the weaving and such really works well with words on paper. sadly… this kind of weaving still has to be translated into visuals and sound. laglag lang ati. sobrang laylay ang pelikulang ito, dahil hindi niya na-achieve and sentiment na binabato ng short story. it didn’t even have a life of its own, as what happens most times with film adaptations of literary works. but there’s an art to it, adaptation and translation. mukhang kulang pa. hindi tumawid.

d. Sheron R. Dayoc

pitch: sabi sa program “centers on a mute nine-year-old girl named Satra, whose determination to secure a good education reverberates clearly amid the strictness of her Yakan culture. The Yakan are one of the 13 Moro groups in the Philippines. They mainly reside in Basilan, Mindanao.”

catch: filmed with an audience in mind? hm.

ambivalent ako sa film na ito. it kinda appeared good to me in the beginning, kasi appreciate ko sobra ang films na nagpapakita ng iba’t ibang kultura ng pagiging pilipino, hindi lang yung “modern” (read: american-influenced) culture natin ek. okay sana. pero nalabuan lang ako sa kuwento. maganda sana yung issues na ipinapasok dito, namely the right of the child to an education, and the gender roles handed down to us by tradition ek. kaya lang parang hilaw pa rin sa luto, kaya yung deliver parang di masyadong satisfying. it was also obvious that the filmmakers were in love so much with their “artsy” shots, and that usually kills the story. a film should have a balance of how a story will unfold utilizing the visuals. medyo kulang pa ito ng ganun. nag-take off siya, pero hindi lang lumipad ng husto.

hani, trabaho lang ha, walang personalan hehe 🙂 congrats nonetheless sa inyo diyan sa zambales! make more films like these! hey, where’s my tubbao? hehe 😛

d. Vic Acedillo, Jr

pitch: sabi sa program “is about two brothers’ journey to compete in a kite flying contest. But getting there takes some time. In the end, they face something unexpected and discover something more precious than winning.”

catch: gano’n???? yun yun???

sa totoo lang, lost ako sa pelikulang ito. isang tumataginting na “hanubayunnnnnn” ang reaksyon ko when i watched this. may konsepto, walang kuwento. delikado. argh. for that, yun na ang review! bakit pasok to???


d. Mark V. Reyes

pitch: sabi sa program “focuses on the disturbing and gut wrenching tale about the realities of life in the sprawling metropolis of Manila.”

catch: miscast ang cast sa urban poor setting

di marunong gumawa ng synopsis ang gumawa nito. it’s more than that. it’s about this nanay who has to face her demons and moral decisions of giving her son for adoption, out of extreme poverty, only to have that son sold to white slavery. and to a pedophile at that. harshness!

hambigaaaaat! di ba? pero effective siya. not new, typical story, sampu sampera na ang mga giving-up-or-selling-your-child-for-money chorva storylines sa philippine cinema (or asian cinema/third world cinema for that matter), pero this one, nadala ng good acting, thoughtful directing, at good-paced editing. never mind the shots. minsan may hindi kering anggulo pero sige lang. nadala ng aktres.

si angel aquino nga pala ang aktres. bothered lang ako kasi for an urban poor nanay, ang ganda ng highlights work sa hair niya, na halatang pina-parlor (sobrang shiny lang, ate). and of course her complexion, although minsan puwedeng lumusot ito na makinis ang mga nakatira sa slums ek (dahil may ganun namang mga tao talaga). o sige, half-keri. pero yung anak niya kasi, halatang slight malusog at alagang-alaga, kaya hindi believable na naghihirap sila at kelangan siyang ibenta. ayun lang naman ang beef ko. other than that, okay ang film na ito. the build-up of the anticipation, na alam mo nang gagawin niya, tapos yung pag-aagaw ng emosyon nung nanay na kineri ng akting ni angel, bet! winner ito. bigat lang, pero winner.

d. Vitaliano A. Rave

pitch: sabi sa program “is a film noir style about a detective’s last minutes.”

catch: so ano’ng bago?

siguro ang bago e ang filmmakers ay enamored sa medium ng graphic novel, because it was obvious that they were making it appear like the visuals were straight out of graphic novels, lalo na’t may pa-thank you sa isang graphic novel author sa credits na inspirasyon nila i’m sure (frank miller ‘ata). kaya lang, kapag tinanggal mo ang graphic novel look and all, ano’ng matitira? walang kuwento ito, talagang gusto lang niyang magpakitang gilas na may alam sila sa cool, slick videography and editing. sadly, hindi kineri ng set, costumes (lalo na si detective na mukhang manong na naka-amerikana — sa dark alleyways of dirty manila? wengk.) at ng boses ng detective (na hindi siya sounding detective! kulang sa bass). hm. sana lang maging mas orihinal pa ang filmmakers, meaning make this material closer to pinoy culture, para hindi siya mukhang american ripoff (which is what it is, actually). sayang ang slick equipment if it won’t be put into good use.

d. Anna G. Bigornia

pitch: sabi sa program “is a 7-minute animation about an 8-year-old girl and her relationship with her first pet, a chick, the subject of a class experiment.”

catch: sana may light ang faces ng characters

other than that, keri ko ito. maganda na hindi talkie, and for an animation work, oks lagi iyon. maganda ang music, ang tema, cute ang animation work, pero bakit madilim ang fez? hm. masyado lang mahaba, feeling ko, for the kind of story it was trying to tell. sana mas pinaiklian pa para poignant, short and sweet. pero bet ko ang animation style. parang slight eastern european ang feel, pero pinoy ang textures. winner!

d. Dexter B. Cayanes

pitch: sabi sa program “is about a prostitute whose life changed when her mute sibling learned to talk, uttering only the word “panggaris.”

catch: kulang sa kwento

sa totoo lang, di ko na talaga halos maalala itong short na to. i guess ganon siya tumatak (o hindi) sa akin. i just remember being unhappy in watching it. sorry alam ko hindi fair itong ganitong review pero i guess my reaction also speaks for the quality it has (or the absence of it).

d. Sheron R. Dayoc

pitch: sabi sa program “is an experimental film about a young boy’s emotion as seen through his make-believe story.”

catch: kulang sa kuwento

di ko alam kung dahil sa huli-huli na ito at di ko masyadong keri ang kuwento, pero hindi ko na siya sobrang matandaan ang detalye. i guess ganoon din siya tumatak (o hindi) sa akin. noble and good intentions cited, at okay iyon. pero the art and craft of storytelling through film, kulang pa rin. could be improved. may promise naman e.

d. L.A. Yamsuan

pitch: sabi sa program “tells about the dynamics and complexities of a single father-daughter relationship in a postmodern patriarchal Filipino society.”

catch: nachorva ko na ito bilang isa siya sa thesis ng nakaraang taon, at isa pa sa best thesis

the story is actually good. biases aside siyempre. i like the sensitivity of the camera handling and the editing, may pacing, at very mature ito. i also like the super subtle (call me overreading) na ang kuwento ay tungkol sa isang babae na puwedeng may leaning towards liking another babae. super subtle message, partly hidden, pero quite a bit obvious sa portrayal and acting. sinadya man o hindi, okay lang. ayun. basta. okay to. congrats, LA!


o sya, my break is over. discuss.

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