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

Filmography

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Badil

Kung Bakit Nasa Indie Ang Pag-Asa

Ni Bienvenido Lumbera

Ang Badil ni Chito Roño ay malinaw na patunay na ang indie ang anyo ng pelikulang Filipino na matatakbuhan ng mga mainstream direktor na naghahangad makagawa ng makabuluhang obra. Malaya ang anyong ito sa mga sagabal na sumisira sa integridad ng bisyon ng isang malikhaing director. Tulad ng prodyuser na ang tanging layunin ay kumita ang pelikula sa takilya. Mga artistang matunog ang pangalan na ang unang-unang pinangangalagaan ay ang image nila na siyang binabayaran nang mahal ng kompanya. Ang tinitipid na mga kagamitang teknikal. At ang mga tauhang teknikal na mababa ang singil sa kanilang serbisyo kaya’t mababa rin ang kalidad ng kanilang trabaho.Read more

Dukit

Carving God in the Image of a Sinner

By Nicanor G. Tiongson

In the Western cinema, filmmakers who have tried to create portraits of iconic visual artists in the narrative film have faced one and the same challenge : How does one depict in a feature film the process of creation, so essential to the understanding of an artist’s works, without ending up with a cold documentary or putting the audience to sleep? According to critic Jeff Hanson, some directors have solved this “problem “ by ignoring altogether the artist’s creative process and focusing instead on some unknown or sensationalistic aspect of the artist’s life, like the tumultuous relationship between Van Gogh and his brother in Vincent and Theo or the many dalliances of Picasso in Surviving Picasso. On the other hand, the more imaginative directors have gone beyond factual reality to weave deconstructive fables that offer precious insights into the artist, his works, and his times, as Derek Jarman did in Caravaggio and Akira Kurosawa in the Van Gogh episode of Dreams.

Material Na Produksyon Ng Ukit, Santo’t Buhay Sa Pampanga

Ni Rolando B. Tolentino

Matulain ang kwento at pelikula. At tulad ng akda ng sining, ang pag-unawa’t apresiasyon ay matutunghayan lamang sa kabuuan nito, sa masusing pagtunghay ng simula, gitna at katapusan bilang pagkilala sa materialidad ng paglikha ng sining, at ang alegorikong paglikha ng organikong artista’t manlilikha, etniko at etikal na mamamayan.

Ang Dukit ay pagtunghay sa produksyon ng ukit, mga santo’t buhay sa Pampanga: ang magkahalintulad kundi man sabayang proseso ng paglikha ng sining at buhay ng isang manlililok, si Waldo na isinadula’t ginamapan ng tatlong artista sa kani-kanilang yugto ng sining at buhay nito: Bambalito Lacap, Bor Ocampo, at Willy Layug.Read more

Ekstra

Claiming Spaces for the Unheard and Unseen

By Gigi Javier Alfonso

Ekstra is the putting on the big screen what goes on in a day on the set of a soap opera production. Together with its many bits and pieces of narratives that create a complex montage mounting into a gamut of sounds, voices and images. The successful shifting of the lenses masterfully directed by Jeffrey Jeturian as it focuses on what goes behind the popular-glitzy-celebrated mainstream menu for millions of Filipinos, makes us stop… and think of all those who are unheard of and blurred by the engaging sparks, glamour and frenzy cranked by the busy production processes of a humongous television industry which in many ways is a dehumanizing system of production. Read more

Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti

The Narrow Road to Perdition and Redemption

By Tito Genova Valiente

“Bilang tagapagtaguyod ng realismo sa pelikula, ang pangaral ay wala sa estetika ni de Guzman.”—Bienvenido Lumbera reviewing Mes de Guzman’s Diablo

What Bienvenido Lumbera, a member of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino and National Artist, is saying is that as a purveyor of a kind of cinematic realism, being didactic is not part of Mes de Guzman’s aesthetics. The film Diablo from last year won the Gawad Urian for Best Screenplay and established de Guzman as a major voice of Philippine cinema, indie or not. Read more

Norte, Hangganan Ng Kasaysayan

Pagharap Sa Hangganan ng Lahat ng May Sinag at Saysay ng Buhay

Ni Benilda S. Santos

Sa dulo ng mahigit sa apat na oras na pag-ikot ng pelikulang Norte, hangganan ng kasaysayan, paglabas ni Fabian (Sid Lucero) sa silid ng kapatid na babae pagkaraang halayin niya ito, at pagkalipas ng wari hindi na magsasarang huling eksena ng pagkakadukmo ng lalaki sa isang tabi ng kasukalan hindi kalayuan sa masinop, malinis, at maaliwalas na tahanan ng angkang Viduya sa Laoag, at matapos niyang isunod at umugin hanggang sa maputulan ng hininga ang asong tagabantay ng malawak na lupain ng mga magulang, naagnas na nang tuluyan ang nalalabi niyang pagsisikap na ipunin sa sentido ang isang identidad at pagkakakilanlan na bibigkis sana sa kanyang hatol, bait, at muni.

Paano nauwi sa trahedya ang isang katulad ni Fabian na kay laki ng pag-asang magkaroon ng buhay na kung tawagin ay may “magandang hinaharap”? Ayon nga sa karaniwang pansin, “nasa kanya naman ang lahat.” Read more

OTJ (On The Job)

In the Underbelly of Service, Honor and Justice

By Mike Rapatan

Erik Matti’s OTJ (On the Job) is a kinetic incursion to the underbelly of Philippine politics and the police system. Through the persistent yet doomed forays of NBI agent Atty. Francis Coronel Jr. (Piolo Pascual) into the murky depths of syndicated crime, Matti plunges the audience into the moral morass that lawmakers and lawbreakers dwell in. Matti’s montage title sequence where clips of the national government’s anti-corruption campaign intercut with gory tabloid street violence reports seems to establish a clear contrast between law and disorder. But as the film hurtles to its dismal end, Matti steers us to the conclusion that disorder is the law.Read more

Porno

Mistulang Arsenal ng Postkolonya-Lismong Lumabnaw na

Ni Benilda S. Santos

Mula pa sa salitang Griyego—pornographos—ang pornograpiya na mula naman sa isina-Ingles na pornography. Tinutukoy nito ang mga antigong sulatin na tungkol sa buhay ng mga babaeng nangalakal ng kanilang katawan, at kasama na rin ang tungkol sa buhay ng kanilang mga tagatangkilik na dinulutan nila ng kasiyahan. Sa Porno na pelikula ni Alix, wala na ang anyong sulatin. Nasa anyong DVD na ang marami sa materyal na pornograpiko, at bagaman kontrabando, inilalako pa rin nang patago kapag may nanghuhuling pulis, at nang hayagan naman kapag wala. Samakatwid, anumang bagay na hayag na hayag sa anumang materyal na mapaglulunsaran ng pornograpiya sa Porno ay ang pagiging sadyang laganap nito. Lubhang pangmasa na ang porno (maraming DVD nito kahit sa labas lamang ng Mercury Drugstore sa gabi), demokratiko ang murang-murang renta sa mga nagsulputang internet café (at nakakabit na rin dito ang cottage industry ng cybersex na pang-pedophile). Ano pa’t maituturing na isang kakatwang sitio ng bayan ang anumang umiinog sa porno. At ito ang natatanging layon ng Porno ni Alix: ang maglarawan ng isang quasi sosyolohikal/antropolohikal na pag-unawa sa paglaganap ng porno upang maipakita kung paano ito nagiging isang uri ng currency, produkto, o paraan ng pamumuhay sa pagtutulak ng espasyong okupado ng mababa-babang-panggitnang-uri.

Nag-Uumapaw na Sex aa Bangkaroteng Mundo

Ni Rolando B. Tolentino

Magkakasalikop na buhay sa isang bangkaroteng lipunan ang sinasambit ng pelikulang Porno. At ang nagtatahi sa mga buhay ay ang marahas at komersyal na spero ng sex at entertainment. Sa sperong ito nagkakaroon ng virtual at angat na tunay na buhay ang mga tauhan: gun-for-hire mula sa preso, porn dubber, at transgender na performer. Epektibo ang pagganap nina Yul Servo, Rosanna Roces, Angel Aquino, at Carlo Aquino; maging ang sinematograpiya, editing, at direksyon.

Ang referensiya ng pagsasabuhay o karanasan sa buhay ng mga tauhan ay ang integral na element ng fantasya, o ang paglinang sa aktwal at historikal na buhay at karanasan sa poder ng imahinaryo: ang fantasya ng pag-asa. Pag-asa na bubuti (pa) ang buhay, pag-asa na ang kinabukasan ay maganda na, pag-asa na liligaya (rin). Read more

Riddles of my Homecoming

There are no Guesses Allowed in Mardoquio’s Riddles

By Tito Genova Valiente

Arnel Mardoquio’s Riddles of My Homecoming/An Mga Tigmo sa Akon Pagpauli opens with a person on a boat paddling. Is he out of the mouth of the river? Is he going back inside the mangroves? Is that the sunset behind him or is it a young sun rising?

As with all of the other films of Mardoquio, time is not a crucial factor in his narrative. The so-called ethnographic present – the bane of field reports – persists and works in Mardoquio’s stories: the Mindanao that we do not know seems to swim in politics and crime that are always there and will be always there. Only men and women move in and out of the landscape, roaming the horizon that is not open to shifts. Men and women shall leave if they want to survive. Men and women shall die if they do not travel or if they do not move at all.

Mga Gunita ng Manlilikha sa Mindanaw

Ni Bienvenido Lumbera

Pinamagatang Riddles of My Homecoming (Ang mga Tigmo sa Akong Pagpauli) ang pinakabagong pelikula ni Arnel Mardoquio. May maiksing paliwanag bago magbukas ang pelikula: sa mga lumad daw ng Mindanaw, may paniwala na pag namatay ang isang tao, bumabalik ito sa bayang pinanggalingan. Walang diyalogo ang pelikula ni Mardoquio, mga larawan lamang ang inilalatag habang dumadaloy ang pelikula. Hindi ipinakikilala ang mga tauhan, basta na lamang sila lumilitaw at gumagalaw na tila may kuwentong nais ipamalay sa manonood. Tila silent movie noong unang panahon, pero, kaiba sa silent movie noon, walang inter-titles na nagpapaliwanag sa pag-uugnayan ng mga tauhan sa isa’t isa.

Ang manonood na nasanay sa mga pelikulang talkies ay iniiwang nagtatanong at pinipilit na paghanapin ng ugnayan at kahulugan sa mga nagaganap sa telon. Riddles (mga bugtong) ang nasa pamagat kaya’t pinag-iisip tayo, at ang kasagutan na ipinauubaya sa atin ay humahamon na humango tayo sa realidad na kilala na natin, ng paliwanag na maitatapat naman natin sa mga tagpong inihaharap sa atin ng pelikula ni Mardoquio.Read more

Transit

When Geography and Identity Collide

By Gigi Javier Alfonso

There are constantly moving images of people, the sounds of airports and planes, the vast skies, sands and seas where people find their way in the rough journey for better lives…they are in transit. The story starts in the airport with father and son moving about. Still not knowing whether they are on their way home to the Philippines or they are off to fly to another country. The narrative continuously flows and slowly brings us back to the uncertain day-to-day life of the Filipino worker struggling to understand, integrate and make meanings of belonging to a not-too-familiar culture. They also find themselves in small lived-in quarters begging for rest where they can breathe peace even if only for a while. It is a place for hiding, for bonding and reenergizing before they step outside to claim a space once again in an unwelcoming land.

Transit: Transnational Filipinos In Exile

By Mike Rapatan

Hannah Espia’s Transit is a complex film with a minimalist style that masks its multi-faceted subject. It is intimate in its characterization yet it is global in its reach. It is refreshingly laconic yet it is eloquent in its discourse on the Filipino diasporic experience. It is understated yet it is forceful in its critique of State programs to rein in the growth of migrant families.

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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