ToFarm Film Festival 2017 reviews (Part 1): Instalado, Sinandomeng, High Tide

Jul 16, 2017
tofarm film festival movie review

The lovely thing about ToFarm Film Festival is that it allows filmmakers freedom on their craft while still being locked in to promote their advocacy of "uplifting the professional development of farmers in the field of agriculture."

This year marks the second edition of this film festival, which opened with Gerry De Leon's high-budgeted 1975 film 'Banaue: Stairway to the Sky.'  The film's stars Nora Aunor and Ronaldo Valdes graced the stage of the Novotel Araneta Center function hall to an applause during the opening ceremony last July 11, 2017.

READ: ToFarm Film Festival 2017 line-up, screening schedules

The six entries of ToFarm this time is an interesting one. Despite conforming to the theme of agriculture, each film feels different from the other.

instalado movie review

This is evident with the inclusion of 'Instalado' directed by Jason Paul Laxamana. Set in a not-so-distant future, success rates of a person are completely determined by their educational attainment. Installation of courses on the human mind are made available to the commercial market, but for a large price. Victor (McCoy De Leon), the son of a farmer, has ambitions of being installed in order to save his family from financial distress. This led him to seek help from a childhood friend (Jun-Jun Quintana) who made a fortune after being installed with multiple courses, though it will not be an easy way to get there.

instalado movie review

Setting up 'Instalado' was probably the hardest to pull-off. A premise as complicated and large as this can easily result to prolonged expository dialogues that sometimes drag the overall experience. But Laxamana was able to inject tension in sequences like this, which turns into a surprisingly exciting watch.

instalado movie review

The best part of the film has nothing to do with its futuristic implants, but for its relevant debates on education and social class distinctions. All arguments were reasonably made to feel equal and valid, leaving up to the viewers which side do they want to embrace. There's so much to explore here, but what we got is already satisfying.

sinandomeng tofarm movie review

'Sinandomeng' narrates the story of Sinang, a mother of three who just lost his husband, one of the few remaining farmers in their barrio, from aneurysm. Alarmed on finding a successor to man their farm, she decided to take over the job, while dealing with the pressure of doubts from other people and selling their land for money.

sinandomeng tofarm movie review

The first few minutes of this film is effective drama. Using minimal dialogue and a lot of reactionary shots, director Byron Bryant was able to craft raw emotion out of these contributed wholly by the terrific performances from Sue Prado, Lou Veloso, and Lui Quiambao-Manansala. 

But it makes the unexpected turn of becoming a comedy. The choice could seemingly be result to divisive reactions, but the whole theater (me included) laughing throughout. It is humor that doesn’t feel forced or cinematic, but something that feels very organic and seamless.

sinandomeng tofarm movie review

The conflict is conventional, but its resolution makes it all forgivable. The feministic ideologies presented here are gloriously displayed, and it didn’t even have any lengthy speeches or out-of-this-world problems to make it empowering.

'Sinandomeng' is the best film ToFarm has to offer this year. No doubt about it.

high tide tofarm movie review

Innocence is what ultimately drives Tara Illenberger’s ‘High Tide.’ The film, about three kids who sneaks into a restricted island to get shells that could pay bills for a hospitalized mother, takes a while before the major plot actually kicks in. 

high tide tofarm movie review

The first hour is a drag, most of it has to do with setting up scenes that don’t seem to move the story forward. It is a film that seems lost on where it’s heading. The film wraps up with a wedding scene. I wonder where that came from. 

high tide tofarm movie review

The surprise here is Arthur Solinap, who provided the better performances in the film. The third act is where ‘High Tide’ really picks itself up, but that alone doesn’t help in making a more cohesive and tact narrative. 

'HighTide', 'Instalado', and 'Sinandomeng' are still showing in select cinemas as part of the ToFarm Film Festival 2017 until July 18.

Photo credits: Screengrabs from 'Instalado,' 'Sinandomeng,' and 'High Tide' trailers

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