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

Filmography

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Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon

Sa Pagitan ng Dalawang Paltok ng Pangungulila at Pag-unawa

Ni Benilda S. Santos

Naroon ang pelikula. Gumigiling samantalang isinisiwalat ang isang naratibo at ang nagsisiganap dito. Iniuuwi sa dadalawang kulay ang buhay—itim at puti, liwanag at dilim—upang maihayag ang pagiging talinghaga ng bawat larawang nakakuwadro dito; ibig sabihin, kung paano laging kumakawala ang kahulugan sa kahulugan upang mapagdugtong ang nakaraan-kasalukuyan-hinaharap sa pamamagitan ng mga larawang gumagalaw. At sa wakas, mahihinagap na ang kuwento o kasaysayan o naratibo ay sumusunod sa hubog ng pagnanais na mapaglabanan ang pangungulilang dala ng kabiguang ganap na maunawaan ang kambal na puwersa ng kalikasan at kasaysayan.

Dramatikong Pagpaparamdam

Ni Rolando B. Tolentino

Karamihan, kundi man, kalakhan ng slow films ni Lav Diaz ay hindi lamang may pasintabi, kundi nananatiling bukal at impetus ng mga dramatikong kondisyon, ang diktaduryang Marcos. Kahit wala ang pisikal na presensya ng mga Marcos, ito ang psychical na predikamento ng pagkasadlak sa kondisyon ng posibilidad ng panahon at tagpo ng pelikula.

Marcosian trauma na may pambansang lalim ito dahil sa malawakang pagkalabag sa mga karapatang pantao, pangungurakot, pandudusta, at pagkamangmang sa isang banda, at sa kabilang banda, ang pagbabalik ng mga Marcoses sa iba’t ibang lokal, pambansa at kultural na posisyon, na parang “wala lang.” Hindi tulad sa ibang bansa na nanggaling sa isang traumatikong diktadurya, ang first order of the day sa pagtatapos ng diktadurya ay pagbuo ng isang komisyon para imbestigahan ang kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao at pangungurakot, ang Filipinas ay walang ganoon. Kaya ganito.Read more

Dagitab

Panandaliang Liwanag sa Kakaibang Pelikula

Ni Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera

Narito ang isang kakaibang sineng Pinoy. Kakaiba dahil bahagi ng istratehiya ng naratibo ang sinadyang pag-iwas sa paglilinaw tungkol sa relasyon at tunguhin ng mga pangunahing tauhan. Hindi tayo sanay sa ganitong pelikulang Filipino. Nakagawian na ng karaniwang pelikulang Filipino na alagaang nasusundan, sa pamamagitan ng dialogo at eksena, ng mga manonood ang nagaganap sa kalooban ng mga tauhan. Sa Dagitab, pinag-iisip ng iskriprayter ang mga manonood habang tumatakbo ang naratibo. Tatlong tauhan ang nasa sentro ng kuwento–-mag-asawang propesor at propesora, sina Jimmy (Nonie Buencamino) at Issey (Eula Valdez) sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas at isang estudyanteng bagong pasok sa unibersidad, si Gab (Martin del Rosario), isang teenager, inaanak ni Issey.

Sparks and Sparkles

By Gigi Javier Alfonso

Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival brings to the fore Dagitab directed by Giancarlo Abrahan who belongs to a new breed of young filmmakers. Dagitab is a standout. Abrahan, who also wrote the screenplay, shines and shows his mettle as an ace director. He just shouts it out that this film may not be for everybody. But then again... it maybe for everyone. It is for all those who will allow themselves to walk with him as he dares tread where directors fear to go. The poetic, the lyrical, the theorizing... the long takes to allow moments of visual pleasure together with the reading of silence. Setting of the breathing space, time for reflection to attain the rhythm of knowing in contemporary times. The film has texture.>Read more

Bwaya

The Artifice of Meta-cinema

By Mike Rapatan

Francis Xavier Pasion’s Bwaya is shot in the deceptively quiet marshlands of Agusan where, according to published news, twelve-year-old Rowena Romano while rowing in her banca with her cousin was suddenly attacked and killed by a crocodile which some suspect to be Lolong, the world’s largest saltwater crocodile as proclaimed by the Guinness Book of World Records. Pasion expands on this grisly tabloid-sounding report and strives to elevate it to some significance so that in the end we are moved and not merely shocked at Rowena’s unusual disappearance.

Calm Amid Greed, Menace

By Mario A. Hernando

Here is a true-to-life panorama of a marshland: serene, beautiful, and green. Placid water everywhere. Small nipa and wooden structures and brown soil dot the waters with thickets of lilies all around. The Manobo folk in their quotidian life: A crowd recites “The Lord’s Prayer” while a body is exhumed from the grave, kids frolic in the waters, two girls play doctor and patient, a teacher at the floating “literacy school” reminding the class of their graduation fee, the same teacher leading a class party for 12-year-old pupil Rowena and serving instant ramen, a mother at Rowena’s second party serving more ramen to the young guests.

Then later, a shocking incident happens. Rowing a canoe with another girl and singing a song that goes, “Can you really be independent?”, Rowena is attacked by a crocodile. The panorama is forever changed.Read more

Mga Kuwentong Barbero

Incredible, But These Barber's Tales are True

By Tito Genova Valiente

The story begins with a village locked deep in a valley. Several deaths after and the village is spruced up for the visit of a dictator. In that place, its lone barber died in his sleep. Despondent, his wife takes over and becomes the prominent barber in town. Somewhere, a woman is lovely and depressed. Somewhere, a wife is battered and made pregnant by her cruel husband.

Tales abound in Jun Lana’s Barber’s Tales. You can tell the tales and retell them, put them in any position and yet the world these tales sprung from still makes sense. These stories derive their validity not through histories but through a composition that shades the border between fantasy and political commentary.

In the film, Barber’s Tales, the small tales are true but somewhere in these tales are other tales, unyielding to our common notion of what is factual and what is fictive.

In the town, the location of which always comes with the reminder of its isolation, the barber shop is where all people converge. Jose is the barber but he is no raconteur. The tales will come from other people and the event these people find themselves part of.

Not a Barber's Tale

By Nicanor G. Tiongson

Decades after it was ended by the People Power revolt, the Marcos dictatorship has become the subject of choice of many independent films since 2005. Some of these have exposed military abuses on women as in Ka Oryang, the psychological traumas of former activists as in Mga Anino ng Kahapon, the militarization of an erstwhile peaceful village in Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon, the failure of the ideologies and dreams of a couple of UP professors in Dagitab, and now the politicization of a barrio woman in Mga Kuwentong Barbero or Barber’s Tales.Read more

Boundary

Transport, Communication Problems

By Tito Genova Valiente

Transport and communication problems—two issues that can, with tongue in cheek, render succinct a film called Boundary.

Benito Bautista’s film rides in a cab with a driver who is so morose you can feel the wayward morality in his eyes. In the taxi is a passenger whose values he displays shimmering like the parol, a Christmas lantern, he buys, we assume, for himself, but, later, gives to the taxi driver who is more surprised than thankful. Indeed, even in the spirit of Filipino Christmas it is not common for someone to buy something expensive and give it to someone who needs more the money than something symbolic.

The circumstances in the film are extraordinary. This is no issue, however, knowing how unpredictable and crazy the taxi drivers in this island are. The arbitrariness of choosing passengers, however, sets the tone of a tale that reeks of the scent of a demented destiny. Well, we like to believe we know where the taxi is going given the air inside, redolent of the Yuletide air and at the same time threatening to crush whatever love and joy are there in the clime outside.Read more

Busong

Katutubo sa Pelikula

Ni Roland B. Tolentino

Ang isang produktibo sa pagpasok ng indie cinema movement ay ang paglalatag ng mga subalterno identidad—tulad ng tirador, gangster, lola ng pinatay at pumatay, at iba pa—at ng historikal na isinantabi, tulad ng katutubo. Nauna nang ginawa ito ni Brillante Mendoza sa Manoro (2006 ), tungkol sa partisipasyon at pagkaetsapwera ng mga Aeta sa eleksyon, at ni Regiben Romana sa Sakay sa Hangin (2011), tungkol sa audiobiswal na meditasyon sa buhay at komunidad ng Talaandig.

Ang kakaibang ginawa ni Auraeus Solito bilang metropolitanisado (at ang kabadingan ay bahagi na rin nito) na Palawanon sa Busong ay habiin ang magkakasalikop na buhay ng mga tagaroon, at nang sa gayon ay makabuo ng isang kolektibong kwento ng pamayanan, ang pagkasantabi’t pananatili nito: isang babaeng sugatan sa paa at hindi makatuntong sa lupa, asawang babae na ang habilin sa kabiyak ay hindi sinunod at binagsakan ng punong ipinagbawal putulin, at ama na inihahabilin ang katutubong dunong sa kanyang batang anak na lalake sa gitna ng modernong pagmamatyag sa dapat at hindi dapat gawin ng katutubo, at ang manggagamot na maghihilom at maghahabi ng kolektibong kwento. Read more

Ka Oryang

Isang Panimulang Pagmumuni-Muni sa Pagsilang ng Estetika ng Kababaihan sa Masining na Rebisyon ng Naratibo ng Kasaysayan ng Bayan

Ni Benilda S. Santos

Sa Sa Ngalan ng Ina: Sandaang Taon ng Tulang Feminista sa Pilipinas 1889-1989 ni Lilia Quindoza Santiago, pambungad ang isang tula, “Ang Tula ni Oriang,” na tinatayang isinulat ni Gregoria de Jesus noong mga huling taon ng ika-19 na dantaon, pagkaraang dakpin si Andres Bonifacio, ang kanyang asawa, at isalang sa ora-oradang paglilitis na nagwakas sa pagbibigay rito ng hatol na kamatayan sa salang pagsusulong ng rebolusyon laban sa nakaluklok na pamahalaan ng panahong iyon.

Sa ganitong konteksto umusbong ang pagtuturing sa kasaysayan bilang bukas sa halip na saradong naratibo ng mga pangyayaring naganap sa loob at labas ng bayan. Kung gayon, binabasa at binibigyan ng interpretasyon ang mga naunang teksto ng nakaraan, at nagagawang buksan ang mga paksang isinara ng nakaraang namamayaning kapangyarihan upang magkalamat o magkapuwang o magka-espasyo doon ang dating hinatulang labas at walang halaga sa kasaysayan.

Filmikong Stilo Sa Kritikal Na Naratibo Ng Kababaihan At Rebolusyon

Ni Roland B. Tolentino

Si Ka Oryang ang kilalang palayaw ni Gregoria de Jesus, asawa ni Andres Bonifacio, na rebolusyonarya na kasama sa naging tungkulin ang maging mensahera—nagtatago ng dokumento’t mensahe sa kanyang damit—pati na rin ang prenteng maiingay na nagkakasiyahang kababaihan kapag may pulong ang Katipunan. Katuwang ni Andres, at nang mahuli, masakdal at mapatay ang magkapatid na Bonifacio, kinulong din si Ka Oryang, ginahasa’t ipinahiya hanggang sa muling makapangasawa kay Julio Nakpil, makabayang musikero.

Ang pelikula ni Sari Dalena, Ka Oryang, ay modernong muling pagsasalaysay ng historikal at mitikal na figura’t kwento ni de Jesus. Pre- at panahon ng batas militar ang sakop ng pagkamulat sa Makibaka’t First Quarter Storm, pakikibaka sa kilusang andergrawnd, pagkahuli’t torture sa kulungan, kasama ng pagdadalantao’t panganganak, hanggang sa paglaya’t kamatayan.Read more

Niño

Emerging and Disappearing Cultures Collide

By Gigi Javier Alfonso

Director Loy Arcenas co-writes the story of Niño with Rody Vera who wrote the screenplay. They have proved to be a creative team together with Lee Briones-Meily and Jay Abello whose cinematography is masterful, Jerrold Tarog with his sensitive scoring and Danny Añonuevo with his meticulous editing. For a first-time director for film coming from theater, Arcenas has successfully hurdled certain odds: the oft-noticed overboard type of acting by theater performers whose large gestures are magnified and appear pretentious on the big screen, and common lack of proficiency in the film language. But in Niño, he has managed to fit into the filmmaker’s mode seamlessly and brilliantly.Read more

Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay

A Horror Queen's Nightmare

By Mike Rapatan

Antoinette Jadaone’s Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay tackles the earnest dream of the film’s eponymous protagonist to win an acting prize for Best Supporting Actress during the 16th AFTAP Silver Screen Awards ceremony. For Lilia Cuntapay, the award is not simply a recognition of her thespic abilities. The award is a validation of and a tribute to her thirty plus years of service and dedication albeit as a bit player to an industry she has come to love.Read more

The Natural Phenomenon of Madness

Away From the Title: The Natural Phenomenon of Madness

By Tito Genova Valiente

A woman meets up with her rapist. They spend a great deal of time talking about something else, some other persons other than themselves. They never talk about the rape and they really never dwell about them being together, or even apart.

The man and the woman have no biographies. The story is not clear about their genealogies, nor are their psychologies revealed to us, or at least hinted. Thus, with the absence of any past that may ingratiate the two to us, in forms of sympathies and empathies, we expect the audience to be voyeurs, eyes stuck close to peeping holes and silent and silenced as they view the events transpire and pass by. With no future in the horizon for these two beings, they thrill us for the open spaces of relationships that the film opens with a lovemaking scene, without the love, and without the woman seemingly enjoying it. We assume the man enjoyed the act on the premise that for men, the acknowledged initiator of any kind of coupling, any sex act is always delicious.

Ngayon At Bukas Ng Sineng Filipino

Ni Bienvenido Lumbera

The Natural Phenomenon of Madness ang kakatwang pamagat ng pelikulang nakasentro sa naganap sa pagkatao ng isang babae at ng lalaking sangkot sa kaso ng panggagahasa. Ito ba ay ulat tungkol sa nabanggit na kaso? Para kasing medical report. Baka naman pagpapaliwanag ng isang psychiatrist batay sa kanyang naobserbahan sa kilos at pagsasalaysay ng babaeng biktima. O kaya ay ulat ng isang sosyolojis na naging kapalagayang-loob ng rapist.

Pero ang pamagat ay pamagat ng isang sine. Kung produkto ito ng industriyang sa mahabang panahon ay nagsilbing tagapagbili ng aliw, paano kaya nito maaakit ang madlang noo’y dumumog sa talkilya nang paglawayin ang mga ito ng Diligin ng Hamog ang Uhaw na Lupa na tinampukan ng eksenang sinipsip ni Joseph Estrada ang hita ni Gloria Diaz na kinagat ng ahas, at pinangakuan ng maiinit na tagpo ng pagtatalik nina Charito Solis at Ricky Belmonte sa Hugasan Mo ang Aking Kasalanan?Read more