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QCinema 2018 reviews (Part 2): 'Pag-ukit sa Paniniwala,' 'All Grown Up,' 'Climax,' 'Cold War,' and 'Faces Places'

pagukit sa paniniwala documentary hiyas bagalbado qcinema 2018

(This is the second part of our QCinema International Film Festival 2018 coverage. Click here for the first part. There are over 40 films featured on this year's edition. Let's talk about some of them.)

READ: Everything you need to know about QCinema International Film Festival 2018

Pag-ukit sa Paniniwala’ opens with a procedure: a man cuts a log from a tree, before sending it to a sculptor, who eventually carves it into the image of Jesus Christ. From here alone, the point of this documentary is established. We sculpt our faith based on our own likening, and to what medium do we wish to materialize it. 


pagukit sa paniniwala documentary hiyas bagalbado qcinema 2018
Pag-ukit sa Paniniwala/ Carving Thy Faith (Hiyas Bagalbado, 2018)

This is an exceptional documentary that spans different art forms, from sculpture, dance, theater, singing, or even the organization of a procession. The application of religion’s transfiguration through art is mesmerizing that works even better when seen as a whole when fragmented spaces were juxtaposed altogether. 


all grown up documentary wena sanchez qcinema 2018
All Grown Up (Wena Sanchez, 2018)

On the other spectrum, another incredible documentary in this year’s QCinema is Wena Sanchez’s ‘All Grown Up.’ It plays more like a memory than a movie, using the camera as a medium to document moments rather than telling it.

Sanchez’s recording device follows the challenges of having a brother with autism. It started out as an experiment, observing the trends in his brother’s behavior. As time goes by, she will be surprised to learn that her own daughter shared the same condition as him.

All Grown Up’ really works because of its intimacy. Not a second does the film tries to manipulate nor heighten its viewer’s sense. How it ended was pretty strong and heartfelt, and the fact that it’s not trying to be one is what makes it so great. 


climax gaspar noe qcinema 2018
Climax (Gaspar Noe, 2018)

Gaspar Noe has been a constant hit and miss for me. ‘Climax’ comes on the spectrum, at least for me, his weaker ones. It is a film that literally is a climax in its entirety, allowing its audience to never really relax. One of its opening bits is a long dance, and it doesn’t stop from there. Noe continued to keep the dancers tired, now under the influence of drugs. While no surprise, this is his most obvious rendition of pitting his characters as participants of an experiment. 

All in all, even as an audience member, you also feel tested by a process. It encourages you to be part of the exhaustive roller coaster that only goes up, which concludes on a note that your involuntary participation felt like you were cheated all along. 

The redemption of this participation is that there’s no redemption. It’s a cinematic equivalent of a hell show, like what Noe always wanted out of us in his films. 


cold war pawel pawlikowski qcinema 2018
Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2018)

A great filmmaker knows what to show and when the stop the scene. ‘Cold War’ really feels like it was operating on instinct, lingering on the brief encounters of its characters who once shared an affection with each other. It is indulgent by never really being indulgent. 


This is, I think, Pawel Pawlikowski’s best work yet. And this is coming from someone who adores his ‘Ida’ so much. By the end, he tells his audience why he needed to tell this story, which makes a decades-long journey with these two characters feels very sincere. 


faces places agnes varda jr qcinema 2018
Faces Places/ Visages Villages (Agnes Varda, JR, 2017)

I cried a lot while watching ‘Faces Places.’ It’s the type of film that moves like magic, following artists Agnes Varda and JR as they tour different places of Europe to immortalize images of people’s faces by sticking it on a wall. While such a simple deed, it explains why art is and will always be significant in our own lives. 

Art, as Varda and JR would seem to put it, is best expressed when shared to the world. They wander around with such liberation, their printed photos being the most telling of their independence. 

Throughout the film, we are being anticipated for a reunion between two iconic French filmmakers, Vargas as one of them. It’s an extremely bittersweet ending to a film immaculately documented, explaining the irony of the message established early on of art as a trigger to enable togetherness. 





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