The society of respected film critics that hands out the annual Gawad Urian in cinematic excellence

Filmography

Bisperas

The Dichotomy of Religious Theorizing and Practice

By Gigi Javier Alfonso

Bisperas is set in the eve of Christmas, making it a national celebration, since almost eighty percent of the population of the Philippines is Catholic. Being the third largest Catholic country in the world, Filipinos are known to have the longest celebration of the Christmas season. Amidst the Asian multi-cultural setting our country is relatively distinct. Bisperas”tries to capture this complexity through a glimpse of the Filipino family in this unique setting.

Family Feud on the Night Before Christmas

By Mike Rapatan

Jeffrey Jeturian’s Bisperas takes a night in the life of the Aguinaldo family led by Ramon (Tirso Cruz III), a lay minister in a local parish church, and Salud (Raquel Villavicencio), his patient and obliging housewife. The film opens with the couple joining a panunuluyan procession on Christmas Eve with their children: the closet gay Mio (Edgar Allan Guzman), the impetuous and straightforward Ara (Julia Clarete), and Diane (Jennifer Sevilla), a balikbayan visiting the country with her daughter Steph (Aryanna Santiago).

A Microcosm of Middle-Class Filipino Family

By Butch Francisco

Bisperas, culled from the Castilian word vispera or eve in English, means the day or night before a special event.

In countries where people know how to feast and celebrate, the eve of any occasion that is part of tradition is always filled with a flurry of activities. In the United States, specifically in New York City, the annual New Year’s Eve countdown in Times Square is even beamed on television to millions of viewers all over the world.

In the Philippines, bisperas is an often-used word among fun-loving Filipinos, especially in the provinces where fiestas are still big. And so we see locals who had migrated some place else rushing back home on the eve of a patron saint’s feast to be part of the celebration on the actual day of the festivities.

The two major events in Philippine calendar, of course, are Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. In the film Bisperas, the night before Christmas is used as the setting and time line for this film by Jeffrey Jeturian.Read more

Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa

Cinema As Pain, Politics & Poetry

By Tito Genova Valiente

The triumph of the film, Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa, comes from poetry. For lack of a better term, believe me, the optimal praise we can give Yapan’s work is that it has poetry written and sung all over it.

I struggle with that description because the modifier “poetic” has been bandied already for works that are tremulous and fragile. Employed to define the power of film, the same adjective softens and, oftentimes, trivializes a powerful work.

Erotisismo ng Salita at Imahen

Ni Roland Tolentino

Sa indie cinema, madalas ay dalawa lang ang modelo—komersyal na umaalinsunod sa template ng genre at narrative development, na may kalkuladong talas dahil indie cinema nga, at mataas na production value, tulad ng sa komersyal na pelikula; at neorealismo na isang-araw-sa-buhay na may kapasidad makapagbigay ng hayag na panlipunang komentaryo, nanggigitata sa pang-araw-araw na detalye, at open-ended na pagsasara ng naratibo.

May ipinapakilala, marahil ikatlong modelo, si Alvin Yapan sa kanyang Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa, ang literary mode. Sa isang banda, nasa lebel ng abstraksyon at metapisika ito, o may kapasidad na tumalakay sa unibersal at transhistorikal na katotohanan at tema tungkol sa buhay at pag-ibig. Sa kabilang banda, dahil nakaugat ang piniling panitikan sa kulturang Filipino, ito ay nakaangkla sa panlipunan at historikal na kondisyon ng bansa—sa pelikula, ang kontemporaryong bansa.Read more

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank

The Rise and Fall of Eugene Domingo 'Sa Septic Tank'

By Mario A. Hernando

The indie film is going mainstream. From arthouse venues at the malls, the UP Sining Adarna, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines—all of them accommodating only a microscopic share of the movie market even put together, one film invaded over 40 theaters nationwide, a situation made possible by the distribution system of very mainstream Star Cinema which has bought from independent producers Quantum Films, Martinez-Rivera Films, and Straight Shooters Media the rights to the 2011 Cinemalaya hit Ang Babae sa Septic Tank.Read more

Amok

Kulob, Singaw, Sabog o ang Patayan ng Abang Uri

Ni Roland B. Tolentino

Sa Amok, ang magkakasalikop na buhay ng nagbibilyar at nagsusugal, nagbebenta ng barbeque, ukay-ukay at baril, mga pasaherong nag-aabang sa terminal, laos na personalidad at ang kanyang dinehadong transvestite na puta, mga tambay sa kalye’t batang nagbebenta ng sigarilyo, baklang bugaw, magkapatid sa van, galamay na pulis, at iba pang nilalang—mga taong hindi magkakakilala liban sa pagkakatipon sa arbitraryong sandali sa kanto ng EDSA at Pasay Taft—ay tinatahi bilang ordinaryong buhay sa bansang ito.

Kunsabay, hindi ordinaryong abitraryong sandali ang panahon ng pelikula. Ito ay konsumasyon ng matagal-tagal na buhay ng mamamayan, syudad at bansa sa ilalim ng kultura ng impunidad. Walang pakundangan ang karahasan dahil sa sistematiko’t sistemikong kasaysayan ng mga nasa kapangyarihan, at ang pagkatagos nito sa pang-araw-araw na buhay.Read more

Thy Womb

Birthing Cultures In Misunderstood Time/Spaces

By Tito Genova Valiente

THE wide expanse of the sea and the constant rain, and the vision of Brillante Ma. Mendoza—these are all that is needed for great cinema to be formed. Then there is the presence of Nora Aunor, natural and artifactual, filling the spaces with her silences and silencing the spaces of doubts, pains, understanding and misunderstanding, historical and individual, with a performance that will go down in history as the ultimate in the aesthetics of reality. Or realities.

The film Thy Womb has a story that is terribly cinematic but also rare, as in ordinary. The story begins with a woman, Shaleha, a midwife, who collects the umbilical cords of the children she delivers. After each birthing, she brings the inch-long snippet from the cord now wrapped in gauze or cloth and hangs it on a wall, along with other umbilical cords of earlier births. The rope from which those birth cords hang is a tiny history of population in her community. The collection of cords is an almost hyperbolic sign of fertility against the incapacity of Shaleha to have a child.Read more

Posas

Silang Ipinosas sa "Posas"

Ni Benilda S. Santos

Muli pang pinatunayan ng pelikulang indie sa Posas ni Lawrence Fajardo kung paanong ang isang walang paligoy-ligoy, payak, mahinahon, siksik, matalas, matinik, malinis, at malutong na produksiyon ay tagumpay na naging landas ng pag-unawa sa hunyangong realidad ng kasalukuyang panahon nang hindi pinagdidiinan kung ito nga ang landas na higit na tuwid kaysa ibang patuloy na nililikha at inihaharap sa bayan bilang tatangnang moral at panukat ng realidad. Sa halip, piniling tistisin ng tuwirang naratibo ng Posas ang mga larong kinasangkutan ng mga tauhan sa loob at labas ng institusyon ng batas at ng mga tagapagtatag nito.Read more

Oros

Pagtahak Sa Naunang Landas

Ni Rolando B. Tolentino

Dalawa ang pelikulang nakakuha ng aking atensyon sa Cinemalaya 2012, The Animals (Gino Santos), at Oros (Paul Sta. Ana). Ang una ay dahil may tinatahak itong bagong direksyon para sa indie cinema, ang mundo ng maykaya na may self-reflexivity sa kalabisan nito, pati ng media at social media sa pagtataguyod nito. Sa exposisyon ng kalabisan, pati ang abang uri—driver ng taxi—ay nadawit sa paglalahad ng amoral na uniberso nitong uri.

Ang huli ay dahil may tinatahak itong lumang landas, ang subalternong kahirapan, at ang pagkakulong ng mga nandito sa malawakang mundong ito sa bansa. Ang Oros ay tumatalakay ng buhay sa saklaan sa isang komunidad ng maralitang lunsod, at ang kwento ng moralidad na nangyayari sa subalternong mundo na ang patay ay maari pa ring pagkakitaan.Read more

Mater Dolorosa

Fighting Back Tears

By Butch Francisco

Every Good Friday—particularly in tradition-rich parishes—religious devotees and even mere spectators are treated to a pageantry of carroza-borne images of saints who were with Christ on His way to Calvary. At the start of the procession is always the statue of St. Peter with his rooster, followed by St. Veronica holding a piece of cloth with the imprint of Christ’s face on it, then St. Mary Magdalene with her bottle of perfume and St. John the Evangelist. Some big parishes also carry the images of lesser known saints like Sts. Cleofe and Salome (cousins who went to clean the tomb of Jesus). In Agoo, La Union, also joining the procession is a tableau of the Last Supper—with life-sized statues of the 12 apostles, dining table and all.Read more

Florentina Hubaldo, CTE

A Cartography of Anomie and Angst

By Mike Rapatan

Lav Diaz’s Florentina Hubaldo, CTE probes into the harrowing and pitiful life of its eponymous character afflicted with chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a debilitating condition that emerges years after an individual has experienced a series of physical assaults on his or her brain. The disease reportedly strikes professional athletes engaged in rough contact sports (e.g., boxing and wrestling) where during play, the exposed head is heavily battered. Typical symptoms of CTE range from depression to mental anguish and dementia.Read more

Diablo

Ang Matimping Sining Ni Mes De Guzman

Ni Bien Lumbera

Ang naunang mga pelikula ni Mes de Guzman ay nasa estilong lantay na realismo. Hiwalay ang mga ito sa tradisyonal na sineng Tagalog na batbat ng madudulang tagpo kung saan ang mga popular na pangunahing bituin ay naglalambingan, maingay na nag-aaway at nagpapalitan ng mga dialoging sadyang pinatitimo sa damdamin ng mga manonood. Ang estetika ni Mes de Guzman ay hubad, umiiwas sa “drama,” walang borloloy, nakatuon sa totoo lamang.

Ang Diablo ay nagbubukas sa isang eksenang nangangako ng “drama.” Isang minero ang sinapian diumano ng diablo at kinailangang ipailalim sa kakayahan ng albularyong makapagpapalabas sa diablo. Pero walang kinalaman ang isasalaysay ni Mes de Guzman sa pambungad na eksena.Read more