The 12th Mindanao Film Festival started Dec 7 2016, showcasing a variety of independent films in the region. There were several themes you can watch, but unfortunately for me (because I was only travelling), the most feasible one for me to watch was the Crime Does Not Pay block.
I went to Gaisano Mall of Davao yesterday with the plan to watch Baboy Halas. I saw its trailer during the Graphicon 5 the other day and I got intrigued with it. The film representative (I forgot who he was) mentioned that it was currently showing in GMall. So the next day, I head over to the mall.
I thought they were showing Baboy Halas in one cinema. I realised that it was the 12th Mindanao Filmfest and there were different films and categories within the entire duration of the festival.
Unfortunately for me, Baboy Halas (an experimental film according to the bulletins) wasn’t scheduled on that day and I will never get to see it due to conflict with my flight schedule.
So I just have to watch any block on that day. The next block that I could watch was Estudyante Blues but I was afraid I may not be able to relate with the films for the simple reason that it’s been a decade since I was a student. Ha!
The next feasible block for me to get into the cinema is Crime Does Not Pay. I am never fond of movies depicting violence but I guess this is much better for me than Estudyante Blues. And I was actually looking forward to the film Pulis. Ooooh, Men in Uniform. lolz
Support the Local Entrepreneurs and Artists
I am always fond of supporting local when it comes to buying stuff or patronising businesses. But it’s my first time to actually support a line-up of local films (regional) because I don’t usually go to cinemas. It’s different that day because I was in Davao and I have so much time at hand.
While I agree when people say that the works of local most often don’t stand out from the international scene such as Hollywood in case of films, it can’t be denied that there are at least a couple that come out as outstanding. And for sure, when given the support of fellow countrymen and with sufficient resources, these works could totally top in the global scene.
I know of people who disdain local films and preferring Hollywood and KPop fims instead. But in today’s time of globalisation, our countrymen have to support one another.
It’s time to end the centuries-long divide-and-conquer attitude instilled upon us by our previous colonizers.
It’s time to end our crab mentality — because whether you like it or not, we still have it. At least most of us.
The State of Independent Film Makers of the Philippines
Like I said, it’s still sad that many of the independent films made by local/regional filmmakers come out less than mediocre especially in terms of cinematography and technical aspects. But it doesn’t mean there are none that can be considered excellent. While I saw independent films that make me say “blaah” in terms of visual and/or audio, some of these actually have good storylines.
As a writer, I look closely more on the storylines. Perhaps it’s an unconscious habit of mine.
With people’s support, generally by watching these indie films in cinemas, we get to encourage the independent filmmakers and everyone involved to improve their craft and develop their skills to create a film with higher quality next time that are worthy of showing on big screens.
The profit may not be enough for them, but at least they get to have something they can spend to further improve. In a way, the support they get is good for motivation.
You can really see the limitations and the challenges an independent producer faces when you watch an indie film. The transitions may be bad, the long shots are dragging, and the visuals and audio seem off. But instead of looking into the bad side of things, you might want to assess that all these are a reflection of the state of the independent film industry.
Struggling artists. The lack of funds normally hinders indie producers to create high quality movies worthy of competing against multi-billion film companies in this country. Some independent filmmakers abandon their passion to have time for practical jobs that earn them money. While others face major struggles to continue their ambitious films.
Whether these aspiring filmmakers stay or leave the industry, there should be something in the community that help nurture their skills and encourage them to create great films.
At least, the 12th Mindanao Film Festival was supported by the Film Development Council of the Philippines. That’s a great thing.
As for us fellow Filipinos, it’s time to support these independent local films. Applaud the great ones and perhaps, provide constructive criticisms to those that need improvement.
Two Films that Stirred My Emotions
Perhaps I find it a good idea to watch a block with a series of films instead of watching a long one. There were several films shown in the Crime Does Not Pay block. While some I find “meh”, there were two that stand out. Well, not really the best, but I guess the theme hit me.
I think Panun was the best in terms of cinematography among other films in this block.
The introductory scene of girls running through a seemingly squatters’ area invoked intrigue, at least for me. The scenes were later on patched together to reveal what really happened — a gang war (of girls) which started as a tension in a neighbourhood bar and turned violent (death of a member).
The heated arguments on the street seemed funny because I thought the way they threw their banters seemed authentic; they reminded me of real street kids fighting. Turned out later on that the film was based on a true story and the actors (or at least most of them?) were actually the real characters.
But you know what really wretched my heart? The theme actually featured an organisation that helped children like those on the film to live a normal life, steering them to the good path. I guess I really do have a soft spot for children (but I’m not good with children. I think I cried, or at least tears were welling up under my eyes.
Side Note: It was my first Film Festival and I didn’t know there was a “discussion” at the end of the block. *grins* The producer of Dagan was among those who are present during the event. I had the chance to learn more about the organization and the children.
Here’s another tearjerker for me. Damn. Lolz.
A tearjerker for the sole reason that it’s basically about a younger sibling (presumably non-drug user) sacrificing herself to protect her big brother (a drug user) from the authorities searching for addicts.
Damn. Sibling stories make me cry.
The first few scenes intrigued me, too. For a few minutes, I got hooked to the screen wondering what’s happening as several scenes were patched together. Honestly, I thought a guy was playing with himself while a woman was taking a bath. Turned out later on that they’re siblings and the guy was not pleasuring himself… but (SPOILER ALERT)
… cleaning his gun. A real gun, hey what were you thinking when I said “gun”? Lolz.
Honestly again, some scenes drag too long. And because some shots were also not clear (or are dark — or maybe it’s my eyes), it took a while for me to figure out what’s happening or what’s about to happen. Most of the time, the long shots got me to the point of boredom. But it was surprising though to see (after a long boring shot) the younger sibling shoving down packs of drugs into her throat to hide evidences that could incriminate his brother.
I think the chase scene was longer than necessary, too. But I don’t mind. It helped build tension. Besides, there are more unnecessary long shots in the earlier parts of the film.
The end of the story was a real tearjerker. But I guess I already said that about the movie.
Side Note: I find it funny that I actually sat in the same isle with the producer and staff (and the actress) of this film during the screening. :D Damn, I could have asked for an autograph. Ha!
More Films in the CDNP Block
There were more films other than what I previous mentioned. But these didn’t seem to personally give an impact to me unlike the first two.
Despite dealing with a story that’s close to my city’s patron saint Sto. Nino, I’m having confused feelings with it. I don’t know if the use of the Sto. Nino as part of illegal transactions (and killing) was blasphemous, but I don’t have the right to assess further. The storyline seemed predictable and some scenes are repetitive throughout the entire length of around 20 to 25 minutes. Visuals seemed clear though; Kudos to that. Finale was a shocker, I must say.
I kinda was looking forward to this movie because… police. *heart*heart*heart*
But I guess I have to admit I was kind of… disappointed.
The stop-motion kind of visual, I understand (and generally don’t mind). It reminds me of my mobile phone camera when I’m taking a video.
It’s a 10 or 15-minute film basically about a policeman who died during a kidnapping rescue operation and his partner remembers the religious belief on matters of death. In short, the officer was not afraid to die because there’s a greater life in the afterlife. Hmm, makes sense.
I guess I find the storyline too bare. But I’m not sure what really happened there, or do I know the rules of film submissions to the festival. I tend to believe that the film was made to send a message — a good news.
But somehow, I believed there’s a bit of religious propaganda there. But since it’s about that, I have no right to discuss further.
Interesting stunts though. *smile*
Side Note: The producer of Pulis is also one of the three producers present in the block I was present in. If my memory is right, I think he said this wasn’t his first film. I might look up his name though. *grins* I think I would still have high hopes for the independent producer especially if given sufficient resources. Might watch him out in the news though and see his progress. *heart*
God Must Think I’m Cain
If you sort of love torture movies (I don’t, waaaaah), then this film is for you. I think it had too much closeup scenes of the tortured guy, but that’s just my personal preference — I’m not into violence. But I guess the scenes are necessary.
In terms of storyline, I guess this is the best among those in the Crime Does Not Pay block. I love the twists that this film had. I’m just confused with the scenes in the sea though. Was that an imagination or metaphor or what?
I must admit, the finale was a good surprise. Weird, but good. There’s a good twist in it.
But the story gets overshadowed with the visuals. I think the scenes are too dark. These were night scenes though but I think the lighting aren’t giving any justice. And coupled with my self-confessed prosopagnosia (or the inability to recognize faces well), I couldn’t decipher who is who.
The storyline was understandable, but I think some scenes drag too long (at least on for me).
What’s striking is that the ending was a blank for me. After a few hours, I realized that I have to look at the poster again (good thing I got a photo) and read the summary of Fachada. The film alone didn’t indicate anything who the child character was supposed to be.
Perhaps it can be made better when there’s a narrative in the end to “remind” or “inform” viewers that the film was about a traumatic experience of a notorious criminal (when he was a kid, I presumed?)
While not the best films in the industry, I have high hopes for the aspiring producers who create films because of passion and not necessarily for commercial reasons. I pray that the independent film industry will thrive and flourish.