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Some impressive harvests of the 2019 Cinemalaya

I didn’t manage to catch all the ten (10) official entries to the Full-Length category of the 15th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival recently held at the various theaters of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and currently showing in cinema malls of Ayala and Vista Malls Evia Lifestyle Center in the country. Not to mention the micro-cinemas around the archipelago which are still screening Cinemalaya films harvested this year.

But I was able to watch Sheryl Rose Andes’ “Pandanggo sa Hukay,” a story about a small-town midwife who’s preparations for a job interview is disrupted by a series of unfortunate turn of events.

The breadth and width of the narrative didn’t hamper the creativity of the director to explore meaningful and suspenseful vignettes to show the dynamism of the complex socio-psychological matrix despite the slim cast and of course, within a shoestring production budget.

Iza Calzado as the midwife Elena Hernandez was a thoughtful character without losing her emotions just to get off the hook of her being kidnapped by a small group of gangsters—two males and two females, the one pregnant, the other a lame lesbian.

Eduardo Roy, Jr.’s “FUCC Bois” was a gripping drama about two perennial and ambitious male beauty contestants, one of them the lover of a privately flaunting and screaming older faggot mayor played by the versatile Ricky Davao who consistently threatened his paramour’s non-appearance with circulating a sex video participated in by the two buddies which the politician took. The boys wanted the video scandal deleted so after a bacchanalian night in an island beach resort, they attempted to delete the video which resulted in a brutal murder of the predator.

Newbies Royce Cabrera, the elder guy and Kokoy de Santos, the “bunso” (youngest) were like already acting pros they have the most promising career in the field.

Meanwhile, Leilani Chavez and Danica Sta. Lucia’s “Malamaya (The Color of Ash)” was very personal in its approach and contents because it tackled a woman’s (Sunshine Cruz) rights to defend her space already occupied by her young lover (Enzo Pineda). True to the lady filmmakers’ pronouncements that the film wasn’t a battle of the sexes, it was still a struggle between a man’s good intentions to sustain a relationship but the woman defied because of her own idiosyncrasies.

Arden Rod Condez’s “John Denver Trending” might as well be the best film to come up this year among the Cinemalaya yields I’ve seen because of its timely exposition and commentary on the misguided role of social media, particularly Facebook, in the otherwise orderly social and economic parochial life of a Visayan community which was tolerant of skirting around laws applied to petty crimes conveniently accusing one sans even a single piece of evidence instead of confronting them with formal investigation.

Elementary school grader John Denver Cabungcal was accused of stealing an iPad he assaulted his accuser black and blue when pushed to the limits. The juvenile fight was caught on video and went viral. Eventually John Denver suffered severe prejudice from judgmental town mates he committed suicide in the end.

It was a depressing sight caused by fake news syndrome.

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