If you need any more proof that local cinema has been seeing something of a resurgence recently, consider the film festivals we’ve had in 2017. Hot off last year’s uncharacteristically independent Metro Manila Film Festival, this year has seen the first Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, followed by the fifth QCinema Film Festival.
Next in line is this year’s Cinema One Originals Film Festival, which boasts a competition among nine full-length indies; as well as seven restored classics, 14 international films, and 13 previous Cinema One Originals hits. While all of these categories have something worth watching, it’s the competition films that we’re most excited about.
Last year, C1 Originals’ competition category brought us Petersen Vargas’ 2 Cool 2 Be Forgotten and Samantha Lee’s Baka Bukas; and back in 2014, it brought us Antoinette Jadaone’s That Thing Called Tadhana and Dodo Dayao’s Violator. We’re looking forward to finding out which of this year’s crop might go on to become classics too. Take your picks from the full lineup:
Changing Partners by Dan Villegas
Synopsis: “Based on a musical play of the same title by Vincent De Jesus, Changing Partners begins with Alex and Cris celebrating their first anniversary as a live-in couple. Recognizing their 15-year age gap, they are clearly in love with each other, ignoring what people say about their relationship. Their differences become more evident six years later and we see the relationship painfully coming apart at the seams because of issues that have lingered through the years. The love story, shown through the perspective of different genders, paints how a real relationship works. It eschews the narrative for emotions, and established that love knows no gender when it pains or soothes, when it hurts and heals.”
The director has said: “My assistant director cried at different moments while watching the play, as I did. It is filled with moments, and at some times you feel that you’re watching your own story staged.”
We’re excited because: Agot Isidro musical? Sold!
Si Chedeng At Si Apple by Fatrick Tabada and Rae Red
Synopsis: “In the wake of her husband's death, Chedeng, 66, decides to come out of the closet. Her best friend Apple, 63, beheads her live-in partner in a fit of rage. Bound by friendship, the two elderly women, together with the severed head placed inside a Louis Vuitton bag, set off an adventure to find Chedeng's ex-girlfriend.”
The director has said: “The film is filled with vibrant and quirky visuals, sending a message that growing old and or coming out may not be gloomy and bleak.”
We’re excited because: Its directors were the writers of Patay Na Si Hesus and Birdshot.
Bundok Banahaw Sacred And Profane by Dempster Samarista
Synopsis: Bundok Banahaw Sacred And Profane is a documentary about Mt. Banahaw, its people, their culture and practices.
The director has said: “Over three years of interviews and research on the sacred mountain and the mysticism and spiritual disciplines that claim to define Banahaw’s significance, I’m convinced that there’s more to the carnival atmosphere, the festive commune”
We’re excited because: The trailer looks pretty solid.
Paki by Giancarlo Abrahan
Synopsis: After fifty years of marriage, Alejandra wants to separate from her husband Uro, but must first seek the blessing of their children.
The director has said: “In a time when most people are busy with life and the business of living, Paki is an appeal for caring.”
We’re excited because: Pinoy family dramas are always best with a tinge of quirkiness.
Throwback Today by Joseph Teoxon
Synopsis: “Throwback Today is about Primo, a man who looks back at his life with so much regret. But due to a technical glitch, he gets a chance to re-write history.”
The director has said: “Throwback Today is a sci-fantasy, coming-of-age film.”
We’re excited because: It’s Annicka Dolonius’ first film since Apocalypse Child, and also the film debut of actress and internet sensation Kat Galang (who you may remember as tassel earrings girl)
Nervous Translation by Shireen Seno
Synopsis: “Eight-year old Yael, shy to a fault, lives in her own private world. Everything changes when she finds out about a pen that can translate the thoughts and feelings of nervous people.”
The director has said: The film is “a portrait of the quintessential globalized Filipino family since the 80s, where we only see and hear fragments of each other, and always in spurts.”
We’re excited because: The last great film to tackle the perspective of the Filipino diaspora was Sunday Beauty Queen, which proved that it’s a perspective that deserves more from cinema.
Nay by Kip Oebanda
Synopsis: “Martin is a rich, sheltered youth who gets transformed into an aswang by his yaya, Nay Luisa. She teaches him how to hunt the poor and the weak for food, in Manila, a city that consistently dehumanizes and neglects the marginalized.”
The director has said: “This is inspired by old horror films like Society (1989) and An American Werewolf in London (1981). “Nay” transposes ancient Filipino monsters and sees them fitting perfectly in modern-day Manila”
We’re excited because: We’ll take any excuse to see a good horror movie, even after Halloween.
Haunted: A Last Visit To The Red House by Phyllis Grande
Synopsis: A documentary about the Bahay na Pula in Bulacan, and the “comfort women” who were raped there during the Japanese occupation.
The director has said: “People need to know that these women are victims of the war, but they’ve grown old, lived their life, and are now dying.”
We’re excited because: Horror and history sounds like a good mix.
Historiographika Errata by Richard Somes
Synopsis: “A mosaic of historical facts, fictions and in-betweens—human acts born out of a primeval instinct to survive under adverse conditions. Historiographika Errata paints an absurd yet brutally honest visage of a race plagued by misfortunes.”
The director has said: The film sees “a disillusioned and suicidal Rizal, a cross-dressing Bonifacio gripped with paranoia, a former Katipunero who signs up for the US army to save his own neck, and a wife who trades sex for food during the closing years of the second World War.”
We’re excited because: It looks like it could be absurd, and it stars Wolfgang frontman and previous Esquire cover guy Basti Artadi in a cowboy hat (we don’t know what this means yet, but we’d like to find out).
The Cinema One Originals Film Festival runs from November 13 to 21 at cinemas including Trinoma, Glorietta, Gateway, Cinema '76, Cinematheque, and Power Plant Mall. For more details, check out the full screening schedule.