I’m quite certain there’s such a thing as a “festival hangover”, the frisson that is watching new films buoyed by the steady stream of tweets and reasonably late writings. It happens all the time, with almost all film festivals I’d say. What we have now, though, is the ability to lull ourselves through this difficult phase: to watch films from previous editions of the same festival in the hopes of re-stabilizing your life from your all-out cinephile to your usual ordinary self in this inescapably Orwellian society.
Here are ten Cinemalaya films you can stream to ease you through the hangover.
Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe (2009)
Beyond the directorial touches which would put Alvin Yapan on the map as an adept filmmaker, the brilliance of Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe is in its doleful ironies. The story, though slim, is astutely told. It is of a woman who, in a world of terrible men, finds recluse in the mystic, thus, making the conscious mistranslation of the title apt—The Rapture Of Fe.
Babagwa, a crime drama about virtual delinquents, perfectly introduces Jason Paul Laxamana’s cinema. Some will consider it the blueprint for his new film Mercury Is Mine, but where in that film the main motivation is derangement, here, it’s pure, red-eyed, scathingly ironic cynicism.
It’s impossible to come out of Giancarlo Abrahan’s Dagitab in one piece, and this is due, in large part, of the brilliant performances. Eula Valdez’s disillusioned writer ironically is caught in a world of apathy, one in which stars die out far too quickly. The film itself is a complicated work, with Abrahan’s indulgences often hinder more than they enable, but one that’s technically sound and deeply affecting.
Jade Castro’s film about contractual laborers is less concerned about the social issue centered on its story—which it does, naturally, without being terribly dogmatic. It instead devotes its time with its protagonists who find true romance despite their routinely shifting work lives. The result is a resonant work that doesn’t bother becoming uproarious.
A sobering look at corruption and vigilantism, Pepe Diokno’s debut film Engkwentro is as relevant today as it was first released seven years ago. The decision to film it in “one shot” makes of its setting a labyrinth which its protagonists try to limp out of to escape, little anticipating the greater horrors that await outside.
Films in the same turf as Jay, the late Francis Pasion’s first film, has said many things about the media. Its excesses are incredible and seemingly never-ending. Pasion’s film, however, deals less with these extremes—surely, Jeffrey Jeturian’s 2001 film Tuhog has already covered much ground, and Pasion is smart to recognize that—and instead focuses more on the journalist at the center of it all, played stunningly by Baron Geisler.
Milo Sogueco is not averse to melancholia. His first film, Sanglaan, though lean, is an affecting, crestfallen slice-of-life drama. His 2014 film, Mariquina, is of the same spirit, quite the same affinity for the ordinary. It is anchored by astute performances and deft direction that only serve right a beautiful, captivating tale of change.
Pepot Artista (2005)
Doy Del Mundo’s Pepoy Artista is one of the earliest gems from the festival, beloved by both critics and casual festival goers alike—and the appreciation for it hasn’t dwindled since. It is, like many great works, candidly introspective, and in this case focuses closely on our collective fascination with the celebrity, the “superstar”.
Sana Dati (2013)
Music is alchemy for the soul. It is perhaps for this reason why I’m completely enamored by Sana Dati, the third and final film from Jerrold Tarog’s Camera Trilogy. The film—which depicts moments before a wedding whose bride, inevitably, gets cold feet—feels, like Tarog’s other films, simultaneously assured and reckless. Every scene falls on the perfect time and hits the perfect pitch. That’s the luxury, I guess, of a music man, of knowing rhythm. Halfway through the film, I knew there was no going back. I knew I was completely enamored.
In Tribu, Jim Libiran’s effort towards authenticity is respectable. The film, shot vérité-style, features a cast of actual gang dwellers in Tondo, Manila, a gesture, which, Pamilya Ordinaryo belies (a well-made film can feel just as authentic). That said, my appreciation for this film does not dwindle. It’s a deeply unsettling view that shows far beyond the gang wars in the slums, a harrowing reflection that mirrors who we are.
Our friends at iflix are hard at work making these independent films available. It’s an incredible luxury, being able to watch these films on-demand. We didn’t have that just two, three years ago. Of course, films must be watched on a proper setting, which is inside the theater. No one should stop you, however, from watching these films when and where you please.
iflix has also just hooked up with another giveaway, which we’ll start very soon. In the meantime, first-time users can sign up for a free account, which comes with 30 days of uninterrupted streaming service, free.