There was this little film festival at the CCP that came and went almost unnoticed. Aside from the fact that the same festival was held last year, Cinema Rehiyon 2010 was held with a Lilliputian press release. I for one came across with it through a friend who happens to be unfamiliar with Facebook and the like. He texted me about the screening of “Anacbanua” which I missed during its run in Cinemanila last year (it won Best Picture, by the way). I tried to get more details on the line-up online but the CCP website only advises me to add its fan page on Facebook (which I did).
What seemed to be a one-time taste test on the film festival took a U-turn and made me watch more entries from the south (Cebu, to be exact). This was not the plan as I was trying to catch a show in Aliw Theater but it was postponed to a later date. It was one of those blessings in disguise. Had I not decided to go to CCP instead, I wouldn’t be introduced to the works of Philippine cinema’s next big thing: Remton Siega Zuasola.
1. Anacbanua (Christopher Gozum). I am not sure if you can consider it a film because for me, it’s a series of poetic visuals coated with some Kapampangan poetry readings. The fleeting effect is like watching a music video. If you’re expecting a plot on this one, forget it. The only premise it has is probably about the homecoming of a man from the Middle East, no story arch or resolution whatsoever. To capture this, a slice of shots from Saudi (I think) are shown then cut to a wandering man from one Pangasinan town to another, all with no speaking lines but with just the poems being read by a young man and an old lady (an apt metaphor for a son and his country). The locales vary from enchanting seashore to a dingy slaughter house. I have to commend the film for coming up with gorgeous shots, a fitting homage to the literature it tries to present. I can say that I will wait for Christopher Gozum’s take on something conventional and direct.
2. To Siomai Love, Mga Damgo and Kurtina Nga Pula (Remton Siega Zuasola) and Uwan, Init, Pista sa Langit (Remton Siega Zuasola and Keith Deligero). I didn’t catch the first few minutes of “To Siomai Love” (which, by the way, won Best Short Film in last year’s Cinemanila) but I wasn’t that late not to capture the meat of its storytelling. It is a film about two characters casually talking about food, life and love in an open food court somewhere in Cebu. It’s very similar to, say, “Before Sunrise” or “Before Sunset” with a satisfying plot twist in the end. “Mga Damgo”, on the other hand, is an animation about a tree that sacrifices life and becomes a classroom to help the kids attain their dreams. “Kurtina Nga Pula” is definitely the shortest short film I have seen with a lot of stories to tell and without being too artsy. It’s a take on a man’s battle with depression and finding the right reasons to give life a new lease. Lastly, “Uwan, Init....” is a tale about a carver’s adopted son and a prostitute as they journey through life and redemption. This one has the promise to become a feature length film but its current format is serviceable as it is. In a nutshell, Remton Siega Zuasola’s works are something to watch out for in local cinema. He is young and his energy transcends through the films’ vivid storytelling combined with the right blend of drama and visual aesthetics.
3. Eskrimadors (Kerwin Go). This documentary closes the festival with a bang. Also done by a Cebuano filmmaker, the film tackles the rise to stardom of a Filipino martial arts called arnis (hence the title), how it went underground and why it originated from Cebu. It’s polished and technically superior, complete with animation, reenactment with period costumes and with crisp fight scenes done a la Hongkong action film. There’s a clear indication that a big budget is behind the production. It’s also very engaging, not to mention informative, and with art direction by Remton Siega Zuasola himself. One of the viewers, who happens to be an arnis instructor himself, shared his joys over the film. He said that he just wanted to cry after seeing the movie. Here’s hoping that the documentary attracts more sponsorship as I believe it needs to be seen by a wider audience of students and film afficionados.