Despite the great strides in Filipino cinema over the past couple of years, few (if any) of our filmmakers have attempted to touch science fiction. The recent crop of local movies dabbles in a variety of different genres: a murder-mystery procedural like Smaller and Smaller Circles; historical films like Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral and Balangiga: Howling Wilderness; musicals like Ang Larawan and Changing Partners, and even a road film like Patay na si Hesus. But sci-fi is a different animal—one that we haven't really tried our hand at. (Well, at least not since Resiklo in 2007.)
It's understandable, of course, because sci-fi productions tend to have greater technical demands—demands that our industry may not yet be ready to meet. It typically takes tons of CGI, prosthetics, and especially elaborate production design to realize the imaginations of science fiction, after all. So when a Filipino film tries to take a crack at the genre, it's hard not to take notice.
Enter Alimuom, a film by Keith Sicat and an entry into the TOFARM Film Festival, which presents films about farming and agriculture. Alimuom (literally, "Vapors") tells the story of a distant future, in which Earth has become nearly uninhabitable, and all farming and agriculture has been outlawed and outsourced to other planets.
The film's official Facebook page has a synopsis, which reads: "A family of Filipino scientists sets out to discover crops that can still grow in this harsh environment despite the government’s ban, for they aren’t simply growing food, they are bringing back life."
If that already seems ambitious, wait till you see the trailer:
The film is set in the universe of Outerspace Filipino Workers, a sci-fi comic anthology created by Sicat, and published by by Kamao Komiks. A post by the TOFARM Facebook page notes in another synopsis that the film takes place in "a futuristic Philippines with specific sections of the country under individual bio-domes." Yeah, this all seems pretty out-there.
Still, the film stars Ina Feleo, Epy Quizon, Kiko Matos, Mon Confiado, and Respeto's Dido de la Paz; with costume and props designed by Leeroy New—fairly well-known names—so you get the sense that a lot has gone into this production. And despite our reservations, it's heartening to see Filipino filmmakers attempt to branch out creatively and try new things.
Catch Alimuom at the TOFARM Film Festival, in select theaters across Metro Manila from September 12 to September 18. For updates and more information, visit the film's official Facebook page.