Harana (Benito Baustista, 2012)
Who says that Festival Pass (I know, I know) is not worth its price? The simple search for Haranistas becomes a reliving of a forgotten past. Bautista doesn’t stay contented with what he found; he goes further by bringing his find to places due their talents, assuming a self appointed position of a champion, chronicling a beautiful part of history now gone extinct.
QIMAYAH (Guttierrez Mangansakan II, 2012)
Mangansakan brings in arresting images to match his evocation of an Islamic community gone berserk – ok, paranoid – after witnessing a cosmic phenomenon that may well be the sign of the looming end.
Dance of My Life (Lyca Benitez-Brown, 2012)
Part vanity project, part confessions, part historical event documentation. Dance is both personal (of intent) and national (of scope). It traces an almost biographical ascent of a woman to become the first ever Filipina (or Filipino, for that matter) Carnival Queen in Brazil. Rich material enough despite an occasional masturbation.
Kamera Obskura (Raymond Red, 2012)
Technically accomplished film: from music/score to cinematography to editing. It follows a man’s journey from the dark inside of cell to grabbing a very high position in a political system with every turn and corner of the way signposted by camera. Camera is the raison d’etre here for everything. In effect, the film is a tribute to the power of camera and, to a deeper extent, of film. If only the storytelling was not that simplistic! I was marveling at visual imagery and musical score that provides the emotional context to the images but a mere few steps away from the theater after, I was already starting to forget it. It didn’t leave indelible imprints for all its technical savvy.
Requieme (Loy Arcenas, 2012)
Arcenas’ films – Nino and this – have this ability to grow on you as the story progresses. They start slow but the buildup is steady until before you know it, you already like the film. Requieme has the sprawling feel of big novel, with dry humor buoying up a rather heavy subject. This is every bit an equal to Arcenas’ debut film, Nino, and he, and his tandem with Rody Vera, is to watch out for.
Bwakaw (Jun Lana, 2012)
Among the DS entrants, Lana is the lightweight, but if Bwakaw is any indication, he doesn’t show the jitters of it. Instead, he gives us a storytelling at its purest! Lana, at least in Bwakaw, doesn’t belabor any of his points to put his message across. Instead he relays it, the message, by simply telling a story. No fuss, no detours, no sermonizing, no flashy camera angles to go with it, no distractions. Bwakaw is both funny and sad, never heavy handed and, the best part, never play safe. This is among the best of the festival.