movie: Oscars ‘to… Oscars!

I cracked up over that line in Ang Babae sa Septic Tank: “Oscars ‘to… Oscars!”

Thank you Chris Martinez and Marlon Rivera for doing a film about Filipino filmmakers’ obsession to make it to international film festivals by capitalizing on poverty porn or “poor-nography”.

Because to be honest about it, it’s so frustrating to see films with the same theme in international film fests, in my case, the Bangkok World Film Festival, a brainchild of BB. I always recommend Filipino films that do not showcase all the squalor and filth there is in the Philippines but I guess it also takes two to tango. Filipino filmmakers go this route because that’s the way to get noticed and picked up at film fests. Not one of my recommendations ever got picked up, well, except Pinoy Sunday, but this cannot be considered a Filipino film as it was directed by a Malaysian and written by a Chinese; the only thing Filipino about it is the cast and the plot (Filipino overseas workers in Taiwan).

Chris Martinez is such a genius; I loved his work in Kimi Dora and Here Comes the Bride, and I’m so looking forward to Ang Babae sa Septic Tank. Not sure if KVS went to the Cinemalaya to check the new films and if he did, I hope he’d pick this.

Another film that looks and sounds interesting is Quark Henares’ Rakenrol. “My name is Jacci. Jacci Rowwwcha,” with Diether Ocampo in a cameo cracks me up. Plus the film reminds me of Suck Seed, a Thai film about friendships and music that @jovefrancisco and I enjoyed.

Then there’s Niño. I’m glad the director and writer did not throw the lead characters into Smokey Mountain in the riches to rags story.

And what about Bisperas? I think many Filipinos can relate with the “thank you, thank you, ang babarat ninyo (you’re so cheap)… f*ck you” and a lot of the nuance in the film.

There’s the contemporary Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me directed by Erick Salud and produced by Noel Ferrer, two names I’d hardly associate with an “independent” production.

Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa is too artsy for my taste but it’s been picked up for commercial release too so it must be promising. Plus Paulo Avelino gives me this Taiwanese idol vibe.

Glaiza de Castro seems to be a filmfest fave. She’s also in I-Libings, which can be a commentary both on technology and tradition.

I cried watching the trailer of Joel Lamangan’s Patikul.

There’s Busong, Aureus Solito’s love letter to his native Palawan.

Of course poverty porn can’t be entirely avoided, as in the case of Cuchera, but it is currently relevant as it tackles drug mules.

There’s also Isda (Fable of the Fish), which has “gorgeous” shots of Smokey Mountain and its story might be “fascinating” to Western audiences.

It looks like this year’s Cinemalaya produced a lot of gems and some of them may even be unwitting subjects of Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’s parody. And that is why the film deserves to be best film.

I’m not saying that poverty is not a valid issue nor an interesting plot for a film, but it has reached the saturation point. Besides, there are more interesting stories about our culture, our people like what some of the films above prove, and they’re not all about being squalid. A film doesn’t have to be uber dramatic and tragic too, to be able to touch the audience. It’s about time we educate jurors and audiences of international film festivals that there’s so much more about the Filipinos than Smokey Mountain. And please, make Filipino films for the Filipinos and not for the critics at Oscars, Venice and Cannes.

For more information on Cinemalaya, visit their site.

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