Something to help you make informed decisions


After a week of catching Cinemalaya 2017 films, I was only able to catch seven out of nine entries with ‘Requited’ and ‘Ang Guro kong di Marunong Bumasa’ being the two I failed to catch. So far, Respeto is a cut above the rest, by miles! So, you can check out the full review I made for it here


Here’s a roundup of the other six films in chronological order of when I viewed it.


1. Sonny Calvento’s ‘Nabubulok’ starts off as an engaging and promising procedural, investigating the apparent loss of a family’s matriarch. The film merits from Neil Daza’s gripping camera work, making the mundane, usually dizzying ‘handheld’ camera treatment more bearable and a work of art. Also notable are the performances of Gina Alajar and JC Santos in one of their most natural performances outside their usual roles. If you’re into these ‘found’ films or the like, then this entry might tickle your fancy. The ending though is quite bothersome and feels like a cop-out.



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2. Zig Dulay’s ‘Bagahe’ is very much like ‘Nabubulok’ with both filmmakers having the same writing influence. It very slowly unravels the truth behind the abandonment of a baby in an airplane’s trash bin. This one feels more tedious though which seems calculatedly intentional. Angeli Bayani carries the film though, with a powerhouse support cast – Raquel Villavicencio, Yayo Agila, Arnold Reyes among others – whom I feel are highly under-utilized.



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3. Thop Nazareno’s ‘Kiko Boksingero’ is a charming little film about a boy in search of a patriarchal figure. The film benefits from the solid performances of its leads, Yul Servo, Yayo Agila and Noel Comia, Jr. who is a revelation in the title role. Comia’s portrayal, both in the quiet and dramatic moments, exhibit such emotional control for an actor his age and a breath of fresh air from the usual ‘teleserye’ style of acting of child actors on TV nowadays. The film’s pace runs a bit slow for my taste but I appreciated the heart of its story.



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4. Joseph Israel Laban’s ‘Baconaua’ follows the plight of an orphaned family in a fishing village whose father has allegedly fallen prey to the sea’s serpent, the baconaua. The film presents a lot of beautiful and hypnotic cinematography especially when the sea turns red or in this case, filled with apples. It is just a bit too dark all throughout the film though, which makes it hard to decipher which time of day it is, but again, this seems to be intentional, too.



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5. Mes De Guzman’s ‘Ang Pamilyang Di Umiiyak’ showcases the Megastar, Sharon Cuneta, in a whole new light. I believe that this is the first time that she has gone full on comedy. The film is a black comedy about a woman in search of the family who does not weep that apparently has the mystical ability of bringing back that which has been lost, and in Sharon’s character’s case, her family. If a good laugh in the theater is what you’re looking for then this film’s definitely for you. Most notable in the film is Moi Bien as Ms. Cuneta’s maid slash drinking buddy slash partner in crime, whose comic timing and deadpan style of comedy will crack you up, punchline after punchline.



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6. Iar Lionel Arondaing’s ‘Sa Gabing Nanahimik ang mga Kuliglig’ is quite an impressive directorial debut with visual flair leaning towards the arthouse style of filmmaking. It suffers though from casting problems in my opinion, and also in some level, in its actors’ performances. The film being about the confession of a crime to a priest that binds him with the sanctity of the sacrament from telling the authorities, could actually have been even more interesting if they went down the whodunnit-kind-of-film route but this clearly wasn’t the filmmaker’s objective. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it even with all its shortcomings.



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Sadly, this year’s batch was quite underwhelming. It makes you look back to past batches like 2011 which had Bisperas, Isda, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, Niño, Amok, just to name a few, or 2012 which had Bwakaw, Aparisyon, The Animals, Ang Nawawala, among other notable entries.


Good thing the Cinemalaya brand still reigns strong among cinephiles and industry people alike and so the attendance in the theaters of CCP are still more than decent if not mostly blockbusters. Filmmaking though, is such a complicated process with a thousand moving parts and so much can happen from the approval of a script, to shooting it and finally screening it in the festival so I commend each and every filmmaker involved  in the festival for pouring out their heart and soul into producing their film.


Every selection process, I can imagine, can also be quite difficult and each decision is a risk and a gamble for the screening committee and we have to thank this pioneering independent film festival for taking that risk for us to enjoy films out of the formula.


Mabuhay Cinemalaya! See you again next year!.

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