Sunday, July 22, 2007

Pisay (2007)

Pisay (Auraeus Solito, 2007)
English Title: Philippine Science

Two years after the debut of Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, 2005), director Auraeus Solito returns to the Cinemalaya Film Festival with Pisay (Philippine Science). The film's title is culled from the term of endearment of most Filipinos to the Philippine Science High School, a government-funded educational institution whose curriculum is geared into training young minds, filtered from the rest by a rigorous examination process, for careers in science.

The highly specialized academic training breeds a curious and unique culture among its students. Characterized by vicious competition, contained social lives, and harsh predestination, the Philippine Science culture feels very much like a tribal unit, separated from the suggested norm of those outside the cemented walls of the institution, but still operating a reflex against any extraneous stimuli that comes its way.

It is a culture Solito completely understands, being an alumnus of the high school. He drapes his film with astute details like the hall board that shows the regularly updated rankings of all its students, the crowded dormitories, the infallible accents of its selfless teachers, the quizzes and the examinations. Above the facile details however, is the frank sentimentality that pervades the four short dramas that constitute the film. The four years that the students slave away for a high school diploma also serves as the chapters of the film.

The freshman year fancies a budding romance between one of the high school's most gifted students and a wealthy girl. The romance turns out to be an unwanted distraction that the physics teacher (Eugene Domingo) finds ways to dissolve. The sophomore year tells the story of a homesick student who struggles through the rigors of his daily classes and nightly stays in his dorm room which he poetically refers to as his cage. The third year introduces a stratified system of dividing bright students and weak students for the maximization of government funds. Despite the system, a socially-aware girl from the weak class finds a spark of hope in a boy from the bright class. The final year is semi-autobiographical for Solito. It tells the story of a boy who is about to make the biggest decision of his life: to continue his science education or to find resolution in his heart by pursuing a college degree in the arts.

Solito's sentimentality is forgiveable; he has earned enough brownie points to indulge us with something much more personal than his previous efforts. Moreover, the film's sentimentality is evenly sprinkled into the picture to completely denounce the oft-used tropes that pervade the genre. Much more interesting is how there's an authentic feeling of growing up in the film; the initial needs of romance and stipends are quickly replaced by political awareness which inadvertently transforms to activism.

Solito again breaks the boundaries of a condensed social unit (the same way he turned the gay-friendly family of petty criminals in Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros and the forest-bound lesbian love affairs in Tuli (Circumcision, 2005) into endearing elements that showcase very universal theme). Solito understands the power of his medium; that it's not enough to dwell in the gorgeous memories of a happily spent past and to entertain, there has to be something much more pertinent to be told in his accurate dioramas of high school living. The vivid transformation of his characters is not only touching, it is also moving.

This film is in competition for the 3rd Cinemalaya Film Festival.


Joey said...

sounds good. mi watch. this film will probably get a theatrical run

Oggs Cruz said...

Yeah, it will most probably get a theatrical run; this is probably Solito's most accessible film (which is saying a lot since Maximo Oliveros is very very watchable).

Anonymous said...

First of All, thank you for your great reviews of my first three films. Your words always help me reflect on my own works and other filmmakers works.

I would also like to share some developments on my new film Pisay-

"Pisay is a beautiful film, simple and sophisticated, direct and campy, one that gets better and better as it goes along. From the evidence gathered, the praise is valid for Filipino cinema as a whole, which is undergoing something of a renaissance.”

by Emmanuel Burdeau Cahiers Du Cinema

Cahiers du Cinema is the most prestigious critic's group in the world. They have declared that Filipino cinema is on the verge of a renaissance. But a renaissance needs hard work and in order to reach this renaissance, Philippine Independent Cinema needs an audience.

Help us reach the renaissance of Philippine Cinema. Please watch Pisay the Movie and support Filipino Independent Films!

Pisay will be shown February 20 –27 exclusively at the following SM theaters:
SM North Edsa Cinema 8, SM Megamall Cinema 9, SM Manila Cinema 4, SM Southmall, SM Fairview Cinema 6 and SM San Lazaro Cinema 6

Salamat sa suporta!

Oggs Cruz said...

Congratulation on the accolades Auraeus, and hopefully, Filipinos start listening and start supporting these new films.

Unknown said...

I love Pisay. Lucky to have the chance to watch it. I cried when one of the student died and wasn't able to attend their graduation. I hope I could have a copy of the film.

Blazingpenpusher said...

is there someone who could tell me where i could get a copy of sir auraeus' films?

Anonymous said...

Berlin, you can get a copy at the Philippine Science Foundation in Agham, Road, Diliman, QC.

Anonymous said...

meron na sa quiapo pirated nga lang..hahaha..madami dun pati kinatay meron na rin..anyway, i like this film very much..