Pista Ng Pelikulang Pilipino 2017 journal: Highs and lows

Aug 26, 2017
Pista Ng Pelikulang Pilipino is currently having an extended run this week at select theaters and Film Development Council of the Philippines' Cine Lokal project. The festival, composed of 12 films (some of which participated in previous film festivals, some having their debut release here) incorporates diverse content. Thankfully, most of them are great. Here's my thoughts on the entries I caught (so far).


birdshot movie review

Mikhail Red's sophomore full-length feature is a very intimate and personal examination of the vast scope of political pettiness. In this way, we are treated to some well-built characters headed by newcomer Mary Joy Apostol and Arnold Reyes, whose paths in the movie crossed after a Philippine eagle has been shot by Apostol's Maya, which eventually starts as an investigation to a much larger, deadly threat.

Like John Arcilla's villainous role in the movie, 'Birdshot' misdirects, telling us that sometimes the good decision can essentially be the wrong one. There are no hopes here, justice being the crime itself. But it does leave a lot of hopes for other young filmmakers out there. This is evidence that age doesn't guarantee the proficiency of craft. Red just created something that feels something that is close to perfection, both on a narrative and technical standpoint.


The prospect of catering regional humor (in this case, from Visayas) to national audience seems far-fetched, but Victor Villanueva made it possible. Currently standing as one of the highest-grossing films in the festival, 'Patay Na Si Hesus' will not be successful without its risky decision on going for unconventional comedy.

Irreverent, brutally honest, and sweet, the film follows a family going to the wake of their estranged father named Hesus. There are a lot of moments here where you find yourself laughing where it doesn't need to be, even on very offensive bits that surprisingly got the entire crowd in the theater roaring.


star na si van damme stallone

I caught this film way back in 2015 at CineFilipino Film Festival. It's that small film that somehow never got the appeal it deserves. I really hope it does with its inclusion here. 'Star Na Si Van Damme Stallone' goes to moments of darkness, but its charm reigns over its drama.

A large part of this charm is from the performances of Paulo Pingol and Jadford Dilanco, who both played old and young versions of star wannabe Van Damme Stallone, whose innocence and naivety fits in with the tone the film wants to set up. Candy Pangilinan, who won Best Actress in CineFilipino as Van Damme's mother, is also a delight on-screen.

Albeit the inclusion of down syndrome as part of our titular hero, the film clearly states that it doesn't want sympathy from its viewers. It is a film about optimism, and it still continues to inspire up to now.


paglipay zig dulay movie review

I really don't like where Paglipay heads midway, however, its magnetic simplicity will leave you attached on the characters. This Zig Dulay film is a love story between two people from different cultures and spaces, an Aeta conformed by his community's tradition and an urban girl trying to immerse on another.

The film makes an interesting point on conventions being overthrown by new standards. The presence of the urban girl (played by Anna Luna) in the province can be seen as a corrupting figure on the eyes of the rural people, with the Aeta who grew admiration with her slowly descending on her own customs.

But despite all this, I wasn't that sold on the two's relationship. The two character's decisions is something to be deprived on to have attachment on them. Either way, there's still something to admire here.


Regardless of how strong the two leads JC Santos and Bela Padilla in the film are, '100 Tula Para Kay Stella', felt like a story that is too focused on regrets than love. Santos is Fidel, a college student who commits to writing 100 poems to confess his hidden love for his best friend Stella (Padilla).

The film starts pretty sweet, until it leads its characters into separate directions, blurring any actual interaction and connection between the two. But their scenes together are actually pretty good, especially on the film's first half.

Poetry plays a crucial element to Fidel's desire for Stella, but it is actually hard to feel sold since it doesn't feel inspired at all. It actually felt like something that needs it, than want.

Also posted at Trinity Observer's August 2017 issue. 

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