2008 .MOV International Digital Film Festival (September 20 - October 7, 2008)
I. Ultimo and Khavn De La Cruz
One of the most memorable screenings in the fourth edition of the Cinemalaya Film Festival is that of Khavn De La Cruz's Ultimo (2007). There were less than thirty people in the Tanghalang Huseng Batute, a small performance theater housed inside the Cultural Center of the Philippines. To call Ultimo a film (which it technically is not, as with all of De La Cruz's filmless films) is a disservice to De La Cruz's ambition. The film is essentially a montage of slightly related or totally unrelated shots around La Palma in the Canary Islands. The verses of Mi Ultimo Adios (My Final Farewell), the poem Jose Rizal wrote before being executed by the Spanish colonizers for his revolutionary ideals, serve as intertitles to the black and white, silent feature. While the film is screening, De La Cruz plays the piano as the words of Rizal's poem are being disarranged and repeated to serve as cadence to the performance. A dancer performs to cap the experience.
While at first, Ultimo feels hefty, disjointed, and pretentious, as the minutes fly by with the incoherent black and white images flickering onscreen with the dancer twisting her body in various shapes and words are recited in rhythm as De La Cruz's melodies become more enraged, one can't help but get swept into the hypnotic madness and enjoy the experience. Rizal's most famous poem was honored and raped at the same time and one leaves the performance in a speechless fervor, unable to describe the ultra-sensory experience that was ingeniously orchestrated by De La Cruz. De La Cruz has been described as a Renaissance Man: a filmmaker, a musician, a poet, a writer, a visual artist (and the list goes on and on). I am quite sure that the thirty of us sitting and watching intently inside the Tanghalang Huseng Batute would agree.
Khavn De La Cruz's Ultimo (2007)
II. "dot-mov" and Blinding the Eye of the Storm
De La Cruz is also a film festival director and his film festival bears the many facets of his creative personality. .MOV is only partly a film festival. It is also a celebration of music, of art, of the tightly knit community that has been ushered by the so-called digital revolution.
His .MOV (pronounced as "dot-mov") International Digital Film Festival was established in 2002, and became the springboard for some of the most talented young filmmakers of the country. Raya Martin, whose Now Showing (2008) premiered in the Cannes' Director's Fortnight this year and directed several other internationally acclaimed features like Autohystoria (2007) and Maicling Pelicula Nañg Ysañg Indio Nacional (A Short Film About the Indio Nacional, 2005), debuted his short Conscientious Object-Or: The Reality of Olaf (2002) in the festival. Similarly, John Torres, director of Vancouver-winner Todo Todo Teros (2006) and Sherad Anthony Sanchez, director of CinemaOne-winner Huling Balyan ng Buhi (Woven Stories of the Other, 2006), gained recognition for the shorts they premiered in .MOV, Tawid Gutom (2002) and Iyak ni Maria (2002), respectively. There is little doubt that the little known film festival took part in the growth of these filmmakers. In fact, these filmmakers, along with Lav Diaz, have become the frontrunners of the Philippines' digital revolution.
In pursuit of its slogan of blinding the eye of the storm, the 2008 edition of the film festival, set during the typhoon-frenzied week of September 30 to October 7, 2008, would have patrons braving the heavy rains to to attend the festivals following programs:
DIGITAL DEKALOGO 10X10.MOV | presents ten of the best foreign digital full-length films from the past 3 years.
1 “A Walk Into The Sea: Danny Williams And The Warhol Factory” by Esther B. Robinson ( USA , 2007) [Best Gay Film in the Berlin International Film Festival]
2 “Re-Defining Video” by Kyle Canterbury ( USA , 2007) [19-year old avant-garde boy genius]
3 “Days Of The Turquoise Sky” (Kurus) by Woo Ming Jin ( Malaysia , 2008) [starring Malaysian actress Carmen Soo of “Kahit Isang Saglit” (A Time For Us)]
4 “Cinnamon” by Kevin Everson ( USA , 2006) [about drag racing in Black America]
5 “Head Trauma” by Lance Weiler ( USA , 2007) [a psycho supernatural horror flick]
6 “En La Cama” by Matias Bize ( Chile , 2005) [Spanish erotica]
7 “Honor De Cavalleria” by Albert Serra ( Barcelona , 2006) [A hauntingly serene & moving experimental take on "Don Quixote”]
8 “Yves” by Olivier Zabat ( France , 2008) [A different perspective on the mentally handicapped]
9 “The Sun and Moon” by Stephen Dwoskin (USA/UK, 2008) [A film fairy tale, a personal adaptation of “
10 “A Prima Vista” by Michael Pilz ( Austria , 2008) [A meditative cinematographic journey, a poetic documentary]
This will be presented by ten of the best local filmmakers who have pushed the boundaries of cinema in their own unique ways: Ato Bautista (Blackout, 2007), Jeffrey Jeturian (Kubrador (The Bet Collector, 2006)), Jim Libiran (Tribu (Tribe, 2007)), Auraeus Solito (Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, 2005), Adolf Alix (Adela, 2008), Raya Martin (Now Showing, 2008), Sherad Anthony Sanchez (Ang Huling Balyan ng Buhi (Woven Stories of the Other, 2006)), Ditsi Carolino (Riles (Life on the Tracks, 2003)), Manny Montelibano (Ligaw Liham (Letters of Nor, 2007)), John Torres (Todo Todo Teros, 2006).
SHORTS.MOV | features works from the two most prestigious short film festivals in the world: shortfilms from Clermont-Ferrand ( France ) and music videos from Oberhausen ( Germany ). The 3rd SILVERSHORTS Shortfilm Competition presents the new Philippine filmmakers to watch out for --- the twenty finalists from both the student and open divisions.
TRIBUTE.MOV | premieres the new films and presents the early works of local digital indie heroes: Kidlat Tahimik, Roxlee, & Lav Diaz. Roxlee’s graphic novel “Planet Of The Noses”, Kidlat Tahimik’s DVD “Perfumed Nightmare”, and Lav Diaz’s soundtrack CD “Impiyerno” will also be launched.
WORKSHOP.MOV | offers Rotterdam International Film Festival programmer Gertjan Zuilhof (“Celebrating the End of Cinema”), Slovenian film critic Nika Bohinc, Kidlat Tahimik (“Sariling Duende”), Roxlee (“Digital Animation”), and Lav Diaz (“Coffee Q&A”). The workshops will be complemented by equally inspiring facilitators such as Quark Henares, Tado Jimenez, Alexis Tioseco, Ramon Bautista, and Erwin Romulo.
FILMCONCERT. MOV | screens Pinoy classics such as Manuel Conde's Genghis Khan (1950), the first Filipino film to compete in Venice, FH Constantino's Sandata at Pangako (Arms and Promises, 1961), an actioner starring Fernando Poe, Jr., Jose Climaco's Biglang Yaman (Sudden Wealth, 1949), a comedy starring Pugo and Tugo, and Carlos Vander Tolosa's Giliw Ko (My Love, 1939), the oldest surviving Filipino film, accompanied with new live soundtracks by Pedicab, Cynthia Alexander, The Brockas, Khaven De La Cruz and Lolita Carbon & Radioactive Sago Project.
AFTERPARTY.MOV | ends each night with a bang at the indie-place- to-be Cubao X, courtesy of music and entertainment from top notch events, media organizations and talent management groups.
EXHIBIT.MOV | Paintings. Photos. Installations. No Screens.
More details on the film festival can be found here.
The entrance to the cinemas of Robinson's Galleria is rearranged to accommodate a few high tables, a buffet of pasta, chicken, meatloaf, red wine and most importantly, warm San Miguel Beer (served with a glass of ice, for those who prefer their beers cold), and a horde of filmmakers, press people, friends, and enthusiasts. For the more sociable, the mood of the event is perfectly informal: a proper introduction to the eclectic festivities that will follow.
Ventriloquist Ony Ocampo and his hilariously profane wooden friend Nonong were the perfect hosts for the night, introducing the major contributors with delightful irreverence (Nonong asks Martin, "what is indie?," and the young director tells the puppet "I don't know, ask Alexis Tioseco" before finally saying "anything that is anti-Mother Lily (owner of the Philippines' oldest mainstream studio and perpetrator of the Philippine masses' continued maleducation)"). The real highlight of the night is the first in the film concerts in the series. As The Brockas (composed of Khavn De La Cruz, Lav Diaz, John Torres, Roxlee, and Earl Drilon) perform, short silent works of Kidlat Tahimik, Roxlee and Lav Diaz, the festival's three honorees, screen.
Kidlat Tahimik's Father Videomaker Meets Tatay Videomaker is essentially a video-diary of the filmmaker's meeting with a family presumably of filmmakers. Wading through the incoherent images of video cameras, feathers floating in the courtyard pool, and Tahimik in his traditional bahag and performing various roles as filmmaker, storyteller, father and icon, the short film is more of a visual invitation to discover Tahimik's generous persona than anything else.
Seeing Roxlee's shorts for the first time onscreen is a grand experience. His portion of the night opens with Son and Mama, about a mother who leaves her dog with her son only to find out that the son has poisoned the dog. Juan Gapang (Johnny Crawl) follows. The short shows the titular character, a bizarre creation with his pageboy hairdo and his body painted white, crawling around Metro Manila. Lizard intersperses images of social and political turmoil with the silhouette of a lizard and a bag-headed man walking to and fro, and bumping into the walls of his cell. Juan Gulay (Johnny Veggie) is a hilarious take on a vegetable-worshipping farmer who allows a painter to his home. Finally, we have Hatakan (Pull) which documents a Catholic procession of men pulling crosses and carriages that house statues of saints, all for repentance. Roxlee's shorts, stylish and almost animated in their visualization of chaos and madness, are satirical of the Filipino psyche. Roxlee paints the nation's obsessions, vices, and sins into the malformations, the aberrations, and bizarrities that populate his works.
The night is capped by Lav Diaz's Purgatorio (Purgatory, 2008), a haunting filmic statement on the Philippine government's unspoken rule of dispatching political enemies. The short film starts with a man (Perry Dizon) aimlessly walking by the river. The dimness, the black and white imagery, the man's unkempt appearance, assure that he remains anonymous. Diaz cuts to a woman (Angeli Bayani), her face in utter distraught, who is also wandering about by the river. Unlike the man's aimless treading, she seems entirely possessed by a goal, a hopeless search for someone or something. The two long takes of the two walkers is followed by a sequence that consists of a vehicle traveling past a mountainside road and a group of Aeta tribespeople dancing in a circle. In the center of the circle are two men, motionless and presumably dead. The short ends with the discovery of human bones in the middle of the forest, before completing the cycle with the shot of the man in his aimless walking. Diaz's short encapsulates the melancholy felt by the mothers, the communities and the entire nation of those who chose to speak and were killed for doing so.