Archive for the ‘Joselito Altarejos’ Tag

Sinag Maynila 2016   Leave a comment

Sinag

So yesterday I did a marathon of all Sinag Maynila entries. Sinag Maynila is a project close to me since I worked on it in its initial year up until the announcement/selection for this batch (before I left my previous work). I was really interested with the movies this year particularly because I already have a clue with these entries, so to see them translated in the big screen is what made me excited. Anyway, here are short thoughts on the 2016 batch.

  1. TPO (Joselito Altarejos)
    Probably the best in this bunch, Altarejos managed to capture in less than 80 minutes the pain, the process, the aftermath of domestic violence and how this goes beyond the victim and the abuser. Characters weren’t one-dimensional and the use of long shots made the situation linger. If anything, TPO shows how people cope up with this illness and how it’s reflective of our society.

    4/5

  2. Expressway (Ato Bautista)
    Everything in Expressway is flamboyant from its full opening credits to its choreographer stunts. One can make a case that it has a tendency to go style over substance for a paper thin story that’s predictable and excessive, but it was a joyride to see Alvin Anson and Aljur Abrenica navigate through it – the former to get a leading role like this, the latter to totally embrace the batshit character he’s portraying (even if in some scenes, he went full retard). Oh, and for some reason, setting the film during Christmas season somehow added to its appeal.

    3/5

  1. MRS. (Adolf Alix)
    MRS. is a character study for its lead Virignia (what a comeback for the always dependable Elizabeth Oropesa) as she deals with everything happening around her – her older sister wanting to sell the lot of her house, her loyal house helper who’s getting married, her daughter who has joined a cult, her missing child. She’s living in a house situated on a fault line thus her house has cracks and looks old which probably signifies where she is in her life right now. The film contains really powerful moments, and I acknowledge the intent more than I appreciate it. That said, Alix continues to bring out the best in his actors.

    2.5/5

  2. Dyamper (Mes de Guzman)
    What’s exciting about Dyamper is director Mes de Guzman’s humor obviously present in it. When following about the lives of these so-called “dyampers”, the movie is at its peak. The back story of Alchris Galura’s character however, while not cringe-worthy and him totally selling it, felt a bit disjointed than the “dyamper” storyline. It’s not actually bad, but I think there’s a lack of smooth transition between these two parts that’s a tad jarring.

    2.5/5

  3. Lila (Gino M. Santos)
    Philbert Dy summed it best when he said that “Lila feels like a script that Regal rejected.” For what it’s worth, the film was stylishly done and everyone involved seemed so committed with it. That said, not only is the lead character one of the more clueless leads in recent horror film memory, but probably one of the slowest readers… ever? Like if I discovered someone’s thin diary, you bet on it I’m done with it by the second hour, notes and all. Heh.

    1/5

Since the Gabi ng Parangal happens tonight, I’ll offer my personal choices on this batch’s winners. Picture and Directing obviously goes to TPO and Joselito Altarejos. Actor I give to Aljur Abrenica (give or take his really over the top scenes, but playing that annoying young character seems right up his alley). Actress is obviously Elizabeth Oropesa (no contest!). Screenplay and Editing go to TPO, Cinematography is Dyamper, Production Design is MRS, and Score goes to Expressway. Lila probably gets best outfits for Enchong Dee.

Sinag

While we’re at it, I still invite you to watch all five films from this year’s Sinag Maynila. And (heh), avail the Sinag Maynila ePLUS Festival Kit Card because trust me, it’ll save you a lot of money (I think a movie is at Php280 each if I’m not mistaken). Until next year! #SinagMaynila2016

88th Oscar Foreign Language Film: What Should the Philippines Submit?   4 comments

frontrunners

It’s that time of the year again when we try to clinch that historic first Oscar nomination for the Philippines in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards. Back in 1953 when we first submitted Manuel Conde’s Genghis Khan up until to Lav Diaz’ Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan last year, the Philippines has yet to be nominated for an Oscar. Will the 27th time be the charm for us?

As per the Academy rulebook, to be qualified as an eligible submission, “The motion picture must be first released in the country submitting it no earlier than October 1, 2014, and no later than September 30, 2015, and be first publicly exhibited for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater for the profit of the producer and exhibitor.

It has to be cleared that this ISN’T the final shortlist from the Film Academy of the Philippines yet, and are just mere speculations. These are the potential contenders for 2014, divided into three different groups.

FRONTRUNNERS:

Kid Kulafu

KID KULAFU
Director: Paul Soriano
Screenplay: Froilan Medina
Cast: Robert Villar, Alessandra de Rossi, Cesar Montano, Alex Medina
Philippine Release Date: April 15, 2015

Before he became one of the world’s greatest boxers, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao was a young boy living a hand-to-mouth existence, trying to survive from one day to the next.

This one hits so many boxes in the Academy already: Biopic? Yes. Success story? Yes. A known personality? Yes, I’m certain a lot of Americans do know his name. It received great to favorable reviews, and while this isn’t a huge box office hit (releasing a week before The Avengers isn’t really the most inspired playdate), it has enough reasons to be submitted by the country. As we all know, Oscars isn’t solely about being the greatest film out there and most of the time, it’s more about the politics. I can see the movie benefiting from a push from Star Cinema and/or Manny Pacquiao himself. While I don’t see a clear path for it giving us our first nomination, it will be a decent enough submission from the country.

Magkakabaung

MAGKAKABAUNG (The Coffin Maker)
Director: Jason Paul Laxamana
Screenplay: Jason Paul Laxamana
Cast: Allen Dizon, Gladys Reyes, Emilio Garcia, Chanel Latorre
Philippine Release Date: December 17, 2014

This Metro Manila Film Festival New Wave entry picked up Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for lead star Allen Dizon back in December. It has also toured a lot of foreign film festivals from Harlem (where Dizon, once again, won Best Actor) to Hanoi (winning NETPAC’s Best Asian Film and another plum for Dizon) and even had a screening in San Francisco already. So quality isn’t definitely its problem. That said, its weak aspect is how its campaign will be handled once submitted. It will need a lot of money for screenings, and that’ll hurt its chances. If submitted, it’ll be one of the better films we’ve submitted quality-wise, but one which we’ll also know won’t advance much in the competition.

Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon

MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON (From What is Before)
Director: Lav Diaz
Screenplay: Lav Diaz
Cast: Hazel Orencio, Karenina Haniel, Mailes Kanapi, Noel Sto. Domingo, Roeder,
Philippine Release Date: August 12, 2015

The Philippines, 1972. Mysterious things are happening in a remote barrio. Wails are heard from the forest, cows are hacked to death, a man is found bleeding to death at the crossroad and houses are burned. Ferdinand E. Marcos announces Proclamation No. 1081 putting the entire country under Martial Law.

I’ve also written about this in my piece last year, thinking it will qualify then. That said, Mula still holds the title of winning the single highest honor for the country in a foreign filmfest with its Locarno victory last year. Black and white isn’t even a problem since the current champion in this category (Poland’s Ida) is also black and white. However, its long screentime (running time of 338 minutes) will hurt it. Sure the longest running film to win an Oscar (running for 431 minutes) is in this category with the Russian film “War and Peace” in 1968, but that was more than 40 years ago, and recently, films running for three hours plus have already suffered even in the Top 9 voting.  If the Academy failed to go for a more accessible and more buzzed Norte, I think the reception will be more lukewarm to this.

Taklub

TAKLUB (Trap)
Director: Brillante Mendoza
Screenplay: Honeylyn Joy Alipio
Cast: Nora Aunor, Julio Diaz, Lou Veloso, Aaron Rivera, Ruby Ruiz, Soliman Cruz
Philippine Release Date: September 16, 2015

After the Supertyphoon Haiyan, which changed the city of Tacloban in the Philippines into its horrendous state, the lives of Bebeth, Larry and Erwin intertwine. The survivors are left to search for the dead, while keeping their sanity intact, and protecting what little faith there may be left. A series of events continue to test their endurance.

It’s a bit surprising when you think about it that a Brillante Mendoza film hasn’t been entered yet for a submission despite his Cannes win and his stature now as one of the two (the other being Lav Diaz) who has mostly represented Philippines in world cinema. But then again, he hasn’t had many commercial releases for his film. His first miss was in 2012 when Venice entry Thy Womb was passed over for eventual submission, Hannah Espia’s Transit. This year can change though with his Un Certain Regard entry Taklub. Taklub has the early buzz already receiving good word of mouth from Cannes back in May and has been his best-reviewed film yet among his Cannes entries. It also touches a Filipino topic (survivors of the typhoon Haiyan which devastated the country in 2013), and has screen legend Nora Aunor in the forefront. This has almost all the elements…except for the commercial screening release. It was supposed to be release last August 19, but it did not materialize. Other websites report that it’s moving to September 16 (which will make it qualified), so unless it won’t make the screening schedule, we have a formidable contender with this.

POTENTIAL SHORTLIST MENTIONS:

Batch 2

Don’t be surprised to see any of these films in this group make it in the final shortlist.

BONIFACIO: ANG UNANG PANGULO
Director: Enzo Williams
Screenplay: Keiko Aquino, Carlo Obispo, Enzo WIlliams
Cast: Robin Padilla, Vina Morales, Daniel Padilla, Eddie Garcia, Jasmine Curtis
Philippine Release Date: December 25, 2014

It seems like every time we have a historical movie that tackles about our heroes, they instantly get a pass or an easy route to a shortlist mention (Supremo and El Presidente in 2012, Baler in 2008). Sure, “war” is a baity topic to the Academy as one can get, but we don’t have to be as predictable as that one.

EDNA
Director: Ronnie Lazaro
Screenplay: Lally Bucoy
Cast: Irma Adlawan, Ronnie Lazaro, Sue Prado, Kiko Matos, Nicco Manalo, Mara Marasigan
Philippine Release Date: May 20, 2015

We’ve already tried to submit two OFW (overseas Filipino workers) in the past: Rory Quintos’ Anak starring Vilma Santos in 2000 and Hannah Espia’s Transit in 2012 but to no avail. Heck, even countries submitting their own films with Filipino househelpers (Anthony Chen’s Iloilo) didn’t even work for them. So I doubt this one which got weaker reviews and poor box office would seal the deal.

HARI NG TONDO (WHERE I AM KING)
Director: Carlos Siguion-Reyna
Screenplay: Bibeth Orteza
Cast: Robert Arevalo, Cris Villonco, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, Rez Cortez, Liza Lorena, Aiza Seguerra
Philippine Release Date: October 1, 2014

The country has a tendency to submit lightweight entries (Crying Ladies in 2003, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros in 2006, Ded na si Lolo in 2009, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank in 2011, and Bwakaw in 2012), so I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up in the shortlist. That and the fact that it got a Toronto run at TIFF last year, and that we’ve submitted a Carlos Siguion-Reyna movie already in the past (1995’s Inagaw mo Ang Lahat Sa Akin), so it makes sense to see in the lineup.

HENERAL LUNA
Director: Jerrold Tarog
Screenplay: Henry Francia, E.A. Rocha, Jerrold Tarog
Cast: John Arcilla, Mon Confiado, Epi Quizon, Joem Bascon, Art Acuna, Arron Villaflor
Philippine Release Date: September 9, 2015

Directed by Jerrold Tarog, this huge epic film chronicles the life of one of the more prominent heroes in Filipino history — General Antonio Luna in his quest to achieve the promise of the Philippine Revolution. While there’s no mistaking that this will be met with good reviews, my only reservation with this is that it will cancel out with the other “hero” movie Bonifacio, in the same vein that both Supremo and El Presidente probably targeted the same demographics two years ago.

THE JANITOR
Director: Michael Tuviera
Screenplay: Aloy Adlawan
Cast: Dennis Trillo, Richard Gomez, Ricky Davao, Derek Ramsay, Nicco Manalo, Sunshine Garcia
Philippine Release Date: October 8, 2014

Picking up five wins at Cinemalaya last year and mostly praised for its superb technical achievements (and an Urian-nominated performance from lead actor Dennis Trillo), what hinders The Janitor is a bit similar to what the FAP used as its excuse reason for not picking Erik Matti’s On the Job in 2012: it portrays the country in a negative light.

KASAL (THE COMMITMENT)
Director: Joselito Altarejos
Screenplay: Joselito Altarejos, Zig Dulay
Cast: Arnold Reyes, Oliver Aquino, Rita Avila, Maureen Mauricio
Philippine Release Date: February 8, 2015

Joselito Altarejos’ drama about a gay couple whose relationship was put to test won the Best Picture award in the Directors’ Showcase from Cinemalaya last year, but pink film submissions (Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros fresh from Brokeback Mountain‘s loss in 2005) or with gay characters (Ded na si Lolo in 2008 and Bwakaw in 2012) both haven’t materialized us with nominations.

MORE CONTENDERS:

Batch 3

ENGLISH ONLY, PLEASE
Director: Dan Villegas
Screenplay: Antoinette Jadaone, Dan Villegas
Cast: Jennylyn Mercado, Derek Ramsay, Kean Cipriano, Cai Cortez, Jerald Napoles
Philippine Release Date: December 25, 2014

While the country hasn’t shied away from submitting comedies and/or romantic films in the previous years, we haven’t really submitted a rom-com yet. I don’t think this story of a Filipino-American who hired an English translator to convert a letter would be the first one to break that trend, regardless if the film was well received and performed well at the box office.

M: MOTHER’S MAIDEN NAME
Director: Zig Dulay
Screenplay: Zig Dulay
Cast: Zsazsa Padilla, Nicco Manalo, Gloria Sevilla, Dennis Padilla, Marx Topacio
Philippine Release Date: January 21, 2015

Zig Dulay’s MMFF New Wave entry from 2014 about a woman who learned of her final days is just too low-key in terms of buzz to compete with the heavyweight submissions of other countries.

THAT THING CALLED TADHANA
Director: Antoinette Jadaone
Screenplay: Antoinette Jadaone
Cast: Angelica Panganiban, JM de Guzman
Philippine Release Date: February 4, 2015

Now holding the record as the highest grossing independent film in Philippine history, there’s a reason why Tadhana generated goodwill both from critics and the public audience. But just like English Only Please, this might be seen as too lightweight compared to other possible contenders.

THE TRIAL
Director: Chito Rono
Screenplay: Ricky Lee
Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Richard Gomez, Gretchen Barretto, Sylvia Sanchez, Enrique Gil, Jessy Mendiola
Philippine Release Date: October 15, 2014

A Chito Rono film has already been submitted once back in 2002 (Dekada 70), and like DekadaThe Trial boasts of a huge ensemble with some of the reputable names in acting leading the pack. What separates the former from this one though is the historical coverage of Dekada dealing with one of the most controversial times in history. The same can’t be said for this melodramatic family film about a mentally-challenged guy who was put into trial after being accused of raping his teacher.

FINAL VERDICT:

Like what I mentioned last year, it was a trial to see if a Lav Diaz film would work for the Academy, and sadly it didn’t. If the shorter and more “commercial” Norte didn’t manage to make the shortlist after all its Cannes buzz and even a US distributor, this might be telling of what the Philippines must submit. To “Mula’s” credit though, it’s not its fault that its longer and its in black white. Besides, it still holds the record for the single highest honor received by a local film in international festival history, so that might work in its favor. Magkakabaung, despite its wonderful international run, is still low-key to compete for the Oscars, and sponsorship and funding would be an issue. The same can’t be said for Kid Kulafu, and like what I mentioned, I can see Star Cinema and Manny Pacquiao giving it some sort of a push. Add the fact that it’s about the most prominent Filipino boxer in history (and one Americans are familiar with), and it will be a wise move on the FAP’s part. In the end, it depends whether Taklub manages to fulfill its commercial run requirement. It got great reviews in Cannes (even winning a special mention from the Ecumenical Jury), and a Brillante Mendoza film hasn’t been selected to compete yet, so he’s an overdue name to represent the country at the Oscars of some sort. I think the wise choice to submit this year is Mendoza’s “Taklub” or Soriano’s “Kid Kulafu” if the former won’t have a commercial run in before the deadline.

Let’s hope after the great submission last year, that the FAP won’t screw up this year.

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Tit for Tat Local Film Awards 2014   Leave a comment

I really thought I’d be skipping this year, but better late than never! For the third year in my blog (see here 2012 and 2013 winners) From MMFF entries to Cinemalaya ones, and from Lav Diaz to Andoy Ranay (probably the only time you’ll see them in the same sentence), I’ve finally come up with a list of my own awards choices. This year, barbers, violators, janitors, and coffin makers are on the forefront as we search for tadhana and sparks. After eight months and lots of waiting in between, I present my picks for the best of local cinema in 2014.

best ensemble

gold LORNA
silver BARBER’S TALES

bronzeMARIQUINA

best first feature

gold VIOLATOR
silver DAGITAB

bronzeCHILDREN’S SHOW

visual effects

gold KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
silver SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROLL 15
bronze FENG SHUI 2

sound editing and mixing

gold VIOLATOR
silver KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
bronze THE JANITOR

original song

gold “BAHALA NA” (Tak Back and You’re Dead)
silver “KAKAIBABE” (Diary ng Panget)
bronze “SIGLE LANG NANG SIGE” (Hari ng Tondo)

original score

gold MARIQUINA
silver LORNA
bronze DAGITAB

hairstyling and makeup

gold THE GIFTED
silver KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
bronze SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROLL 15

editing

gold BARBER’S TALES
silver #Y
bronze VIOLATOR

costume

gold LORNA
silver THE GIFTED
bronze KUBOT: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES 2

cinematography

gold MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON
silver DAGITAB
bronze  VIOLATOR

prod design

gold BARBER’S TALES
silver  KUBOT: THER ASWANG CHRONICLES 2
bronze ESPRIT DE CORPS

best breakthrough actress

gold NADINE LUSTRE (Diary ng Panget)
silver KARENINA HANIEL (Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon)
bronze COLEEN GARCIA (#Y)

best breakthrough actor

gold  SANDINO MARTIN (Esprit de Corps)
silver MATT DACLAN (Soap Opera)
bronze  RAFA SIGUION-REYNA (Hari ng Tondo)

best screenplay

gold  GIANCARLO ABRAHAN (Dagitab)
silver ANTOINETTE JADAONE (That Thing Called Tadhana)
bronze SIGRID ANDREA BERNARDO (Lorna)

best supp actor

gold ANDY BAIS (Violator)
silver MIGGS CUADERNO (Children’s Show)
bronze MARTIN DEL ROSARIO (Dagitab)

best supp actress

gold SYLVIA SANCHEZ (The Trial)
silver MARIA ISABEL LOPEZ (Lorna)
bronze GLADYS REYES (Barber’s Tales)

best actor

gold ALLEN DIZON (Magkakabaung)
silver ARNOLD REYES (Kasal)
bronze  JOHN LLOYD CRUZ (The Trial)

best actress

gold EUGENE DOMINGO (Barber’s Tales)
silver ANGELICA PANGANIBAN (That Thing Called Tadhana)
bronze  SHAMAINE BUENCAMINO (Lorna)

best directing

gold JUN LANA (Barber’s Tales)
silver ANTOINETTE JADAONE (That Thing Called Tadhana)
bronze LAV DIAZ (Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon)

best picture

gold BARBER’S TALES
silver THAT THING CALLED TADHANA
bronze  MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON

That was it! As a recap, here are the winners for the 2014 Tit for Tat Local Film Awards:

PICTURE: Barber’s Tales
DIRECTOR: Jun Lana, Barber’s Tales
LEAD ACTOR: Allen Dizon, Magkakabaung
LEAD ACTRESS: Eugene Domingo, Barber’s Tales
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Andy Bais, Violator
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Sylvia Sanchez, The Trial
SCREENPLAY: Giancarlo Abrahan, Dagitab
MALE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Sandino Martin, Esprit de Corps
FEMALE BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Nadine Lustre, Diary ng Panget
ART DIRECTION: Barber’s Tales
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon
COSTUME DESIGN: Lorna
EDITING: Barber’s Tales
HAIRSTYLING AND MAKE UP: The Gifted
ORIGINAL SCORE: Mariquina
ORIGINAL SONG: Bahala Na (Talk Back and You’re Dead)
SOUND: Violator
VISUAL EFFECTS:
Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles 2
FIRST FEATURE: Eduardo Dayao, Violator
ENSEMBLE: Lorna

See you again next year! What are your favorites from 2014?

If you want, you can follow me on Twitter and let’s talk about it more: @nikowl

87th Oscar Foreign Language Film: What Should the Philippines Submit?   8 comments

Within the next few days, the Film Academy of the Philippines will release the shortlist for the country’s Oscar submission in the Foreign Language Film category, and it has been a tradition over here at Tit for Tat to dissect and analyze the shortlist of what the Philippines will submit as its entry. As you may know, the country still hasn’t been nominated for the said award despite submitting 25 times in the award’s 57-year history. Before we go straight to the discussion, let’s specify the necessary requirements to be eligible for this award:

As per the Academy of Motion Arts and Pictures Science’s official rule book, any country’s submission must be:

The motion picture must be first released in the country submitting it no earlier than October 1, 2013,
and no later than September 30, 2014, and be first publicly exhibited for at least seven consecutive
days in a commercial motion picture theater for the profit of the producer and exhibitor.

As a reminder, these are my predictions and opinions on what I think will make the shortlist and NOT THE OFFICIAL SHORTLIST YET. In order to determine which will make the shortlist, I have divided the list into three groups:

FRONTRUNNERS:

Alagwa

ALAGWA (Breakaway)
Director: Ian Loreños
Screenplay: Ian Loreños
Cast: Jericho Rosales, Bugoy Cariño, Leo Martinez, Carmen Soo, Smokey Manaloto
Philippine Release Date: October 2, 2013

This local thriller which was inspired by an urban legend about the disappearance of a young Chinese-boy and the lengths his single father did in order to find him back.

Despite the film being produced and finished as early as 2012, Alagwa was able to land its local commercial screening October of last year. The film garnered good reviews with mentions about its balance of intense thriller with the emotional punches in between. It has also made its way to some international festivals, albeit the smaller ones, such as the Tallin Black Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, Guam International Film Festival, and ASEAN International Film Festival to name a few. Not to be outdone, it was also recognized locally sweeping at the PMPC Star Awards for Movies including Indie Movie of the Year and a Gawad Urian Best Actor for lead star Jericho Rosales. While I think the film can be a good submission, it needs a bigger push than our last two entries to maintain buzz once the bigger heavyweight countries announced theirs.

Barber's Tales

MGA KUWENTONG BARBERO (Barber’s Tales)
Director: Jun Lana
Screenplay: Jun Lana
Cast: Eugene Domingo, Shamaine Buencamino, Gladys Reyes, Iza Calzado, Nicco Manalo
Philippine Release Date: August 13, 2014

Set in 1975, widow Marilou (Domingo) continues the business of her late husband as the female barber in their town. This opened to her being involved with the different issues in her town including that of the mayor’s wife.

The film, which premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival late last year, gave Eugene Domingo a Best Actress victory over there which followed nominations from the Asian Film Awards and participation at the Hong Kong International Film Festival and Udine Far East Film Festival. It also has some sort of good will since this team already has some sort of Oscar submission experience since Domingo was the star of the county’s 2011 submission Ang Babae sa Septic Tank while director Jun Lana is the director of the 2012 submission Bwakaw. The film also boasts of great technical achievement and a story that is universally appealing but still has distinct Filipino touches. I won’t be surprised if this ends up as the country’s submission in the end.

Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon

MULA SA KUNG ANO ANG NOON (From What is Before)
Director: Lav Diaz
Screenplay: Lav Diaz
Cast: Perry Dizon, Roeder, Hazel Orencio, Karenina Haniel, Mailes Kanapi
Philippine Release Date: September 24, 2014

Running for 338 minute, this black and white film leads to the two years before Martial Law was proclaimed in the Philippines.

If anything, the film is earning so much good will after that sweep at the Locarno International Film Festival winning four awards(!) and the Boccalino de Oro Independent Critics Award Best Actress win for its star Hazel Orencio. Prior to that, the film was also the pioneer champ of the newly established World Premieres Film Festival taking both the Best Ensemble and the Grand Festival Prize. Ir has to be said though that the length of the film plus its black and white feature might be too alienating to sit through for this small Foreign Language Film committee. This isn’t a knock on the film’s accomplishment but more on the category we’re sending it to. The Oscar is as “mainstream” and “accessible”  as one can get in terms of recognizing films, so that might give the FAP some second thoughts if they’re gonna go with this.

Norte

NORTE, HANGGANAN NG KASAYSAYAN (Norte, The End of History)
Director: Lav Diaz
Screenplay: Lav Diaz, Rody Vera
Cast: Sid Lucero, Angeli Bayani, Archie Alemania,
Philippine Release Date: September 10, 2014

A take on the Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”, the film showed the story of  three people: an innocent man being put to jail of a crime he did not commit, the real perpetrator guilty of the crime is very much free and continuously frustrated of his country’s political system, and the wife of the wrongly accused man dealing with everything that has happened to her family.

The shorter of the two Lav Diaz films, Norte runs at a measly 250 minutes. While it’s still relatively long, comments about this as being Diaz’ most accessible film is definitely encouraging. It also has the festival experience as well competing as part of the Un Certain Regard section of last year’s Cannes Film Fest and getting raves after raves as well. It also helps that the film has been released, despite via limited format, in the United States and getting great mentions there as well. Locally, the film has garnered many acclaims here as well even sweeping at this year’s Gawad Urian awards. I think this is the type of film that can benefit from the short committee’s three picks outside of the top vote getters.

POTENTIAL SHORT LIST MENTIONS:

Shortlist mentions

Of course the shortlist can go as many as 12 like that from 2009 or as few as 2 like that in 2006. Since the past few years’ shortlist have given us WTF mentions (remember Baler in 2009? How about The Witness three years ago? Or Dance of the Steelbars last year?), so I guess these films can find their way in the shortlist this year.

10,000 HOURS
Director: Joyce Bernal
Screenplay: Ryllah Epifania Berico, Keiko Aquino
Cast: Robin Padilla, Pen Medina, Bela Padilla, Michael de Mesa, Mylene Dizon
Philippine Release Date: December 25, 2013

Sweeping last year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, this action thriller which was very loosely based on a Philippine senator’s fugitive story. While the possibility of this being chosen is slim to none, I wouldn’t underestimate this being a part of the short list.

BANG BANG ALLEY
Director: Ely Buendia, Yan Yuzon, King Palisoc
Screenplay: Ely Buendia, Yan Yuzon, Zig Marasigan
Cast: Art Acuña, Perla Bautista, Gabe Mercado, Bela Padilla, Jimmy Santos, Joel Torre, Althea Vega, Megan Young
Philippine Release Date: April 9, 2014

Last year, the trilogy Tuhog also made the shortlist, so I don’t see why they’ll skip this a mention since this is one of the better reviewed films of the first quarter of 2014. The film featured three different stories all relating to violence.

BOY GOLDEN
Director: Chito Roño
Screenplay: Catherine Camarillo, Guelan Luarca, E.R. Ejercito
Cast: ER Ejercito, KC Concepcion, Eddie Garcia, John Estrada, Gloria Sevilla
Philippine Release Date: December 25, 2013

To be honest, this is the best of the three ER Ejercito MMFF films, but then again, that doesn’t mean it needs to be submitted. This is more of a guilty pleasure action flick than an Oscar contender, but hey! If those two films were shortlisted, then this better be mentioned as well.

KAMKAM (GREED)
Director: Joel Lamangan
Screenplay: Jerry Gracio
Cast: Allen Dizon, Jean Garcia, Sunshine Dizon, Jackie Rice
Philippine Release Date: July 9, 2014

Lamangan has been shortlisted many times before (Dukot, Sagrada Familia) so he’s a familiar name from the FAP. That said, this is another of the socio-political statements that he has been doing lately about a powerful man in the slums balancing his power and dealing with his three wives.

PEDRO CALUNGSOD: BATANG MARTIR
Director: Francis Villacorta
Screenplay: Francis Villacorta
Cast: Rocco Nacino, Christian Vazquez, Jestoni Alarcon, Marc Justin Alvarez, Ryan Eigenmann
Philippine Release Date: December 25, 2013

Really though. As if the flop box office nor bad reviews would stop them from considering this, but it’s the story of the Filipino saint, so I’m expecting the worst and see this in the shortlist even if it doesn’t really merit a mention at all.

UNFRIEND
Director: Joselito Altarejos
Screenplay: Zig Dulay
Cast: Allen Sandino Martin, Angelo Ilagan, Boots Anson-Roa
Philippine Release Date: February 26, 2014

An ordinary day in the life of a 15 year old teen upon learning that the love of his life loves someone else and his intense reaction to profess his love.

Pink films haven’t done so well the past few years (even Blue is the Warmest Color did not make a splash), and I don’t even remember the last one to get nominated (at the top of my head, All About My Mother? Unsure though), and this is too low key to seriously be considered.

ELIGIBILITY ISSUES

Ineligible

While these films least worry is their quality, it seems like eligibility would prevent them from being shortlisted. Chito Rono’s Badil among the other Sineng Pambansa entries were released September of last year so they’re not eligible. The same can be said for Ang Huling Chacha ni Anita and the Cinefilipino entries as well. Borgy Torres’ Kabisera got an extended day of release after the Cinema One Originals last year, but that doesn’t fit the seven day commercial screening. And among the MMFF New Wave entries last year (including Armando Lao’s Dukit, only Gino Santos & Aloy Adlawan’s Island Dreams managed to follow it up with a commercial release. Jerrold Tarog’s Sana Dati‘s commercial release was September 25, 2013 so six out of its seven commercial release dates were ineligible as well. Perci Intalan’s Dementia starring the Superstar Nora Aunor is a tricky case. It premieres last week of September which means it qualifies for this year, but the FAP usually announces its pick by mid-September, so unless they got a special screening to see it, then I think it’s still possible to make it to the list. Otherwise, by the time we see Dementia in theaters, there’s a large chance there’s an announcement made already.

FINAL VERDICT

I think it boils down to two films: Jun Lana’s Barber’s Tales and Lav Diaz’ Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan. And both films I see can possibly make a splash. Diaz has the good will and the name recognition plus Norte’s reviews will surely make it in the conversation against other countries’ entries. Barber’s Tales, on the other hand, seems like the more traditional entry, and Bwakaw managed to gain steam during its year (and I think the closest we ever was mentioned since Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros in 2005) so it would be a fit as well. Anything between the two would be fine by me, so I do hope we end up with one of those. Come on FAP, make it happen.

Either way, I’ll keep you updated once the official shortlist and the official submission is revealed.

You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Cinemalaya X Final Recap   6 comments

After eight days of going back and forth from CCP, I’ve finally finished all 15 films of the New Breed and Directors Showcase categories as well as the 10 short films that comprise the 10th Cinemalaya Indepedent Film Festival. Here’s my final rankings of the films (with my corresponding thoughts on it by clicking the link):

Ranking of the 10 New Breed Entries:
1. Sundalong Kanin (Janice O’Hara) – 4.5/5
2. Dagitab (Gian Abrahan) – 4.5/5
3. #Y (Gino Santos) – 4/5
4. Mariquina (Milo Sogueco) – 4/5
5. Children’s Show (Derick Cabrido) – 3.5/5
6. 1st ko si 3rd (Real Florido) – 3.5/5
7. Bwaya (Francis Pasion) – 3/5
8. K’Na, the Dreamweaver (Ida Anita del Mundo) – 2.5/5
9. Ronda (Nick Olanka)- 2/5
10. Separados (GB Sampedro) – 1/5

Ranking of the 5 Directors Showcase Entries:
1. Hari ng Tondo (Carlos Siguon Reyna) – 3.5/5
2. The Janitor (Mike Tuviera) – 3/5
3. Kasal (Joselito Altarejos) – 3/5
4. Hustisya (Joel Lamangan) – 2/5
5. Asintado (Louie Ignacio) – 1.5/5

Ranking of the 10 Short Film Entries:
1. Asan si Lolo Me? (Sari Estrada) – 5/5
2. Nakabibinging Kadiliman (Paolo O’Hara) – 4.5/5
3. Mga Ligaw na Paruparo (JE Tiglao) – 4/5
4. Lola (Kevin Ang) – 3.5/5
5. The Ordinary Things We Do (David Corpuz) – 3/5
6. Padulong sa Pinuy-anan (Even Villarba) – 2.5/5
7. Indayog ng Nayatamak (Joris Fernandez) – 2.5/5
8. Eyeball (Thop Nazareno) – 2/5
9. Ina-tay (Chloe Veloso)- 2/5
10. Tiya Bening (Ralph Quijano) – 2/5

NEW BREED CATEGORY PREDICTIONS:

1. Best Sound
Will Win: “Children’s Show”
Could Win: “Bwaya”, “K’Na, the Dreamweaver”
Personal Pick: “Children’s Show”

2. Best Original Music Score
Will Win: “K’Na, the Dreamweaver”
Could Win: “Children’s Show”, “Sundalong Kanin”
Personal Pick: “Mariquina”

3. Best Editing
Will Win: “Children’s Show”
Could Win: “Sundalong Kanin”, “Bwaya”
Personal Pick: “#Y”

4. Best Production Design
Will Win: “K’Na, the Dreamweaver”
Could Win: “Bwaya”, “Mariquina”
Personal Pick: “K’Na, the Dreamweaver”

5. Best Cinematography
Will Win: “Bwaya”
Could Win: “Children’s Show”, “Dagitab”
Personal Pick: “Ronda”

6. Best Screenplay
Will Win: Janice O’Hara, Denise O’Hara, “Sundalong Kanin”
Could Win: Jerrold Tarog, “Mariquina″, Real Florido, “1st Ko si 3rd”
Personal Pick: Gian Abrahan, “Dagitab”

7. Best Performance of a Supporting Actor
Will Win: Ricky Davao, “Separados” or “Mariquina” (if placed here)
Could Win: Dante Rivero, “1st Ko si 3rd”, Miggs Cuaderno, “Children’s Show”
Personal Pick: Ricky Davao, “Mariquina”

8. Best Performance of a Supporting Actress
Will Win: Barbie Forteza, “Mariquina”
Could Win: Gloria Sevilla, “Children’s Show”, Ruby Ruiz, “1st Ko si 3rd”
Personal Pick: Coleen Garcia, “#Y”

9. Best Direction
Will Win: Janice O’Hara, “Sundalong Kanin”
Could Win: Roderick Cabrido, “Children’s Show”, Francis Pasion, “Bwaya”
Personal Pick: Janice O’Hara, “Sundalong Kanin”

10. Best Performance of an Actor
Will Win: Nonie Buencamino, “Dagitab”
Could Win: Buboy Villar, “Children’s Show”, ensemble of Separados (God forbid)
Personal Pick: Nonie Buencamino, “Dagitab”

11. Best Performance of an Actress
Will Win: Angeli Bayani, “Bwaya”
Could Win: Aiai delas Alas, “Ronda”, Nova Villa, “1st Ko si 3rd”
Personal Pick: Eula Valdez, “Dagitab”

12. Special Jury Prize
Will Win: “Children’s Show″
Could Win: “Sundalong Kanin”
Personal Pick: “Dagitab”

13. Best Film
Will Win: “Sundalong Kanin”
Could Win: “Children’s Show″
Personal Pick: “Sundalong Kanin”

DIRECTORS SHOWCASE CATEGORY PREDICTIONS

1. Best Sound
Will Win: “The Janitor”
Could Win: “Asintado”, “Hari ng Tondo”
Personal Pick: “The Janitor”

2. Best Original Music Score
Will Win: “Hari ng Tondo”
Could Win: “Kasal”, “The Janitor”
Personal Pick: “The Janitor”

3. Best Editing
Will Win: “The Janitor”
Could Win: “Hari ng Tondo”
Personal Pick: “The Janitor”

4. Best Production Design
Will Win: “The Janitor”
Could Win: “Asintado”
Personal Pick: “Hari ng Tondo”

5. Best Cinematography
Will Win: “Asintado”
Could Win: “The Janitor”
Personal Pick: “Kasal”

6. Best Screenplay
Will Win: Bibeth Orteza, “Hari ng Tondo”
Could Win: Aloy Adlawan, Michael Tuviera, “The Janitor”, Ricky Lee, “Hustisya”
Personal Pick: Joselito Altarejos, Zig Dulay, “Kasal”

7. Best Performance of a Supporting Actor
Will Win: Rez Cortez, “Hari ng Tondo”
Could Win: Rocco Nacino, “Hustisya”, Dante Rivero, “The Janitor”
Personal Pick: Miggs Cuaderno, “Asintado”

8. Best Performance of a Supporting Actress
Will Win: Liza Lorena, “Hari ng Tondo”
Could Win: Rosanna Roces, “Hustisya”, Sunshine Dizon, “Hustisya”
Personal Pick: Sunshine Garcia, “The Janitor”

9. Best Direction
Will Win: Michael Tuviera, “The Janitor”
Could Win: Carlos Siguion Reyna, “Hari ng Tondo”, Joel Lamangan, “Hustisya”
Personal Pick: Michael Tuviera, “The Janitor”

10. Best Performance of an Actor
Will Win: Arnold Reyes and Oliver Aquino, “Kasal”
Could Win: Dennis Trillo, “The Janitor”, Robert Arevalo, “Hari ng Tondo”
Personal Pick: Arnold Reyes, “Kasal”

11. Best Performance of an Actress
Will Win: Nora Aunor, “Hustisya”
Could Win: Aiko Melendez, “Asintado”
Personal Pick: Nora Aunor, “Hustisya”

12. Special Jury Prize
Will Win: “Hari ng Tondo”
Could Win:  “Kasal”, “Hustisya”
Personal Pick: “The Janitor”

13. Best Film
Will Win: “The Janitor”
Could Win: “Hari ng Tondo”
Personal Pick: “Hari ng Tondo”

You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Cinemalaya X Complete Guide   10 comments

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Now that August is fast approaching, it’s time for the country’s biggest independent film festival as Cinemalaya celebrates its first decade this year. Running from August 1-10, this year’s festival, dubbed as “Cinemalaya X: A Decade of Connecting Dimensions”, will once again showcase the power of independent films in providing quality cinema in the country. This year’s 10 New Breed films, 10 short films, and 4 Directors Showcase that are in competition this year are:

(descriptions taken from the press kit available online)

DIRECTORS SHOWCASE:

1. ASINTADO (Between the Eyes)
Director: 
Louie Ignacio
Cast: Aiko Melendez, Gabby Eigenmann, Jake Vargas, Miggs Cuaderno, Rochelle Pangilinan
Plot: In the middle of the preparation for TaongPutik Festival, a young man penniless and in love, takes on a drug courier job that goes terribly wrong.  To save him, his mother now makes the most difficult decision of her life.

2. HARI NG TONDO
Director: Carlos Siguion-Reyna
Cast: Robert Arevalo, Cris Villonco, Rez Cortez, Liza Lorena, Rafa Siguion-Reyna
Plot: A grandfather on the brink of bankruptcy and brings his grandchildren back to the community that made and shaped him, only to find out the place is no longer the same.

3. HUSTISYA
Director: 
Joel Lamangan
Cast: Nora Aunor, Rocco Nacino, Rosanna Roces, Sunshine Dizon
Plot: A foul-mouthed woman fights for her soul in the belly of the city.  Working for a human trafficking agency controlled by a powerful syndicate, she sees no evil, hears no evil.  In a society like ours, you have only two choices – to be a victim, or a victimizer. She makes her choice.

4. THE JANITOR
Director:
Michael Tuviera
Cast:
Dennis Trillo, Derek Ramsay, Dante Rivero, Irma Adlawan
Plot: 
Crisanto Espina, a cop on suspension and under investigation, is tasked to eliminate the suspects involved in a bank robbery/massacre that shocked the whole nation.

5. KASAL
Director: Joselito Altarejos
Cast: Arnold Reyes, Oliver Aquino, Rita Avila, Maureen Mauricio
Plot: Kasal is a slice of life drama of a gay couple whose resolve to stay together is challenged as they attend a wedding.  It also is an examination on how a gay couple navigates through the different institutions in Philippine society.

NEW BREED:

1. #Y
Director: Gino M. Santos
Cast: Elmo Magalona, Coleen Garcia, Slater Young, Kit Thompson, Sophie Albert
Plot: “#Y” (“Hashtag Y”) chronicles the adventures of the members of a generation made universal by the realms of social media, the internet, sex, drugs and alcohol, and the occasional YOLO.

2. 1st KO SI 3rd
Director: Real Florido
Cast: Nova Villa, Dante Rivero, Freddie Webb
Plot: Matapos ang mahigit apat na dekada ay muling makikita ni Cory ang kanyang 1st love na si Third na siyang magbibigay kulay at gugulo sa kanyang buhay bilang may asawa at retiree.

3. BWAYA
Director: 
Francis Xavier Pasion
Cast: Angeli Bayani, RS Francisco, Karl Medina, Jolina Salvado
Plot: Divina is preparing for her daughter Rowena’s 13th birthday when she hears shocking news:  her daughter has been attacked by a crocodile, her body still missing.  As Divina searches for the body of her daughter in the marshlands of Agusan del Sur, she learns a lesson more tragic than her fate:  not all predators are underwater. The film is based on actual events.

4. CHILDREN’S SHOW
Director: 
Derick Cabrido
Cast: Allen Dizon, Gloria Sevilla, Nathan Lopez, Suzette Rannillo
Plot: Children’s Show is a full-length film based on a real life story of children ages 10-15 years old being used by a syndicate for an underground wrestling match.

5. DAGITAB (SPARKS)
Director: 
Giancarlo Abrahan V
Cast: Eula Valdez, Nonie Buencamino, Martin del Rosario
Plot: While the marriage of two professors is on the verge of falling apart, the woman is dragged into a scandal involving a young student.  On the other hand, the man falls in love with his research — a deity (supernatural being) that appears to him as the ghost of an old flame.

6. K’NA, THE DREAMWEAVER
Director: 
Ida Q. Anita del Mundo
Cast: Mara Lopez, RK Bagatsin, Alex Medina, Nonie Buencamino
Plot: When Kana, a young T’boli woman, becomes a dreamweaver, she has the chance to weave together her village’s warring clans.  But, will she give up true love to do so?

7. MARIQUINA
Director: 
Milo Sogueco
Cast: Mylene Dizon, Ricky Davao, Bing Pimentel, Che Ramos
Plot: Unlike the former Philippine First Lady, Imelda is indifferent towards shoes. To her, they are fraught with the bittersweet nostalgia of childhood, one that was marred by a difficult relationship with her shoe-maker father, Romeo.  Growing up, all of hers were handmade by him. Now a mature woman, she takes a pivotal call from the morgue, spurring her search for the perfect pair of shoes for her dead father.  The deeper she searches for the perfect shoes, the more she finds herself.

8. RONDA
Director: 
Nick Olanka
Cast: Aiai delas Alas, Carlo Aquino, Carlos Morales, Angeli Bayani
Plot: A policewoman roams the city of Manila to fulfill her duties as a police patrol and to look for her lost son.

9. SEPARADOS
Director: 
Gb Sampedro
Cast: Victor Neri, Ricky Davao, Anjo Yllana, Jason Abalos, Erik Santos, Alfred Vargas
Plot: Separados is a mostly bittersweet, partly comic, partly tragic saga of six men who have separated from their wives. Based on true stories, their parallel and overlapping tales are framed by a church wedding to a second wife by one of them, who grabs another chance at matrimonial bliss.

10. SUNDALONG KANIN
Director: 
Janice O’Hara
Cast: Nathaniel Brit, Ian de Leon, Marc Abaya, Gardo Verzosa
Plot: Set during the Japanese Occupation, four friends (Nitoy, Benny, Carding, and Badong) aspire nothing more than to become soldiers fighting the Japanese… until they are confronted by the realities of war that threaten to destroy their families and their friendship.

SHORT FILMS A:

1. ASAN SI LOLO ME? (Sari Estrada)
A mother tells her young son that his grandfather has turned into a goat in order to cover up the grandfather’s death.

2. TIYA BENING (Ralph Quijano)
Left by her daughter to a caregiver, an old lady with Alzheimer’s suffers as her bedroom burns during the night.

3. MGA LIGAW NA PARUPARO (J.E. Tiglao)
Miriam is up for a surprise from her husband after a rift caused by the flirty text message of someone named Alex.

4. THE ORDINARY THINGS WE DO (David R. Corpuz)
When everything material and immaterial is stripped off, what remain are souls united by and in love.

5. PADULONG SA PINUY-ANAN (Eden Villarba)
A man attempts to find himself and the meaning of home while lost in another country.

SHORT FILMS B:

1. INDAYOG NG NAYATAMAK (Joris Fernandez)
A struggle between a painter and his work.

2. LOLA (Kevin Ang Tan)
It’s Christmas time, and a grandmother spends a quiet afternoon tending to the family chores. But the arrival of an unexpected visitor brings with her some deadly consequences.

3. NAKABIBINGING KADILIMAN (Paolo O’Hara)
Nakabibinging Kadiliman is about two physically challenged sisters trying to find a way to live a normal life.

4. INA-TAY (Chloe Veloso)
A beautician named Elvis (also known as Elvira) finds out one day that he has fathered a bouncing baby boy and is left with the challenge of single parenthood.

5. EYEBALL (Thop Nazareno)
A vain man is out to meet a woman he met on Facebook for the first time. While waiting for her, he comes upon a naive guy whom he teaches his ways on attracting women. But the vain may need to learn some more.

Aside from that, the out of competition films ranged from Sineng Pambansa entries such as Maryo J. delos Reyes‘ Bamboo Flowers and Peque Gallaga’s Sonata to local premiere of  Ronnie Lazaro’s Edna. There’s also repeat screenings of last year’s top films via Lav Diaz critically acclaimed Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan, and Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo. Since Cinemalaya is celebratings its tenth year, a look back of some of the festival’s earlier films will also be in the schedule this year including Mike Sandejas’ Tulad ng Dati, Clodualdo del Mundo Jr.’s Pepot Artista, and Jerrold Tarog’s Sana Dati to name a few.

In order to help you fix your schedule this year, I’ve uploaded a table of the CCP schedule for this year arranged per day. Hope this helps!

August 2

August 3

August 4

August 5

August 6

August 7

August 8

 

August 9

As for the Ayala malls schedule:

Aug 2

Aug 3

Aug 4

Aug 5

Aug 6

Aug 7

Aug 8

Aug 9

Aug 10

You can also check the official Cinemalaya X Facebook fan page for more details.

See you everyone at the CCP next month! 🙂

You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl