Cinemalaya Films at CCP

Twenty competing films, twenty different stories… in one big event. The 2008 Cinemalaya: Philippine Independent Film Festival opened its curtains this year with a bang. Lakwatsero, being a fan of indie films invaded the CCP to watch this years offerings.

Here are my insights to the movies I’ve seen:

1. Boses – Ellen Ongkiko-Marfil

A story of a musician, who regains back his humanity by giving violin lessons to a child of the slums. This is a story of friendship founded on the sublime beauty of music.

The film shows that there are voices not spoken but best heard… that silence though deafening speaks more than words… that talent utters more than voice. Prepare your hanky and expect to shed tears. Starring Coke Bolipata, Julian Duque, Ricky Davao, Cherry Pie Picache and Meryll Soriano, this movie has great cast that delivered effective performances. Hats off to Julian Duque who played Onyok, for his superb acting. My rating: 9/10.

2. Baby Angelo – Joel Ruiz/Abi Aquino

The film centers on an investigation that ensues when an aborted fetus is found in the dumpster of a run-down apartment complex.

Main actors are Jojit Lorenzo, Katherine Luna, Ces Quesada, Alchris Galura, Archie Alemania and Diana Mahalay. The story leaves more questions than answers. The complicated story of what seems to be simple plot will make the audience think and guess. My rating: 7.75/10.

3. Huling Pasada – Paul Sta. Ana/Avin Yapan

The movie follows the creative process of Ruby, a prolific writer, abandoned wife and protective mother who writes about Mario, a taxi driver and a father figure to a street child.

The movie tells that there’s a real story in every composed story and that there is a thin line that separates reality with fiction. Though there seems to be unnecessary scenes, the story effectively relayed the message to the audience. Kudos to main actors Agot Isidro, Dimples Romana, Neil Ryan Sese, John Manalo and Gian Sotto. My rating: 8.25/10.

4. Jay – Francis Xavier Pasion

Jay is the name of the two protagonist in the film, one is living, the other is dead. The living jay is producing a documentary of the dead jay, a gay teacher who was brutally killed.

The movie is one of the biggest surprise of the festival. It was able to show the humor out of grief. All praises to Flor Salanga for her raw performance and to Baron Geisler for his surprisingly funny yet effective interpretation of his role. My rating: 9/10.

5. 100 – Chris Mendoza

Is about a stern, uptight and exacting woman with a terminal illness who tries to accomplish a list of 100 things to do before she dies.

Personally, it is perhaps among if not the best screenplay of all cinemalaya entries. The story is simple yet realistic. The cast portrayed their roles effectively. Congrats to Mylene Dizon, Eugene Domingo, Tessie Tomas et al for superb acting. The sound rendition and music are remarkable too. The story is indeed compelling… so if I may ask, what’s your number 5? My rating: 9/10.

6. Namets- Emilio “Jay” Abello

The movie follows the flirtation between Jacko and Cassie, two Negrenses who grew up in Bacolod, and whose lives revolve around food

A unique film that ventures into an unpopular film genre – foods. The movie is a perfect recipe of fun, food and love. I bet, you will definitely will want to eat after seeing the film. Good story and cast led by Christian Vasquez and Angel Jacob. Prepare to crave as the movie treats you to a mouthwatering experience that is so Namets! My rating: 8.5/10.

7. Ranchero – Michael Christian Cardoz

In a jail where some inmates see no reason to continue living, what is the role of the food? Is it to extend life or to prolong the pain of those who don’t want to live?

Ranchero is somehow lacking. I heard some moviegoers asking “yun na yun?” (is that all?) In all fairness though, the story was laid clearly but it limits itself to its boundary. Starring Archie Adamos and Gary Lim. My rating: 8/10.

8. Concerto – Paul Alexander Morales

Based on a true story from the director’s family, the film celebrates a family whose reverence for life, expressed through their love of music and friendship, can survive even war, and shows how beauty and compassion can grow in even the harshest of situations.

Concerto is a serious film and a classic on its own way. Superb cinematography, great actors, remarkable story blended with good sound and music resulted in a grand and striking overall production, thus making it one of my bets for the festival’s top honor. The unpredicability of the story will make you stick to it. Kudos to Jay Aquitania, Meryll Soriano, Sharmaine Buencamino, Nonoy Froilan and the rest of the cast. My rating: 9.25/10.

9. My Fake American Accent – Onnah Valera

An inside look into the maddening, sleep-deprived, caffeine-fueled lives of those who ply their trade in the call center industry.

Despite a non so stellar cast, the film successfully and effectively relayed to the audience the life, the fun and the often overlooked and underrated lives of call center agents. Overall, it is a good and worth seeing film. Starring Mailes Kanapi, Jonathan Neri, Martin dela Paz, Cherry Mae Canton, Miro Valera and Tracy Abad.  My rating: 8.75/10.

10. Brutus – Tara Illenberger

A tale of two Mangyan children, hired by Illegal loggers to smuggle wood from the mountains of Mindoro, as they embark on a dangerous journey to deliver the goods to the lowlands.

Brutus tells not just a story but a clear message of environmental protection. Kudos to the mainscreen debut of child actors Timothy Mabalot and Rhea Medina for carrying the film, also to Ronnie Lazaro and Yul Servo. Joey Ayala’s rendition of good sound and music is also remarking. My rating: 8.5/10.