Walang Takot. The tagline of the 13th Cinema One Originals translates into ‘fearless’ in English and is more than an apt descriptor for the festival’s programming ethos and its reputation, the way it has, year in and year out, shepherded unique, adventurous cinematic voices into the limelight.
But ‘Walang Takot’ also exemplifies not only the way the festival is embracing the changing face and attitudes of cinema, from the paradigm shifts when it comes to new ways of watching films to the influx of a diverse new audience, with a deeper sense of cinematic history and new cinematic modes, but also the way it endeavors to ride the changes by closing the gaps, striving for a cinematic experience that allows for the co-existence of old and new platforms and the convergence of old and new audiences, where past and future cinema occupy the same evolutionary continuum, looking back by moving forward.
The two films that make up this year’s documentary section are both examinations of a past with uncanny present-day resonances but from diverse vantage points. Dempster Samarista’s “Bundok Banahaw, Sacred and Profane” is an exploration of the titular mystical mountain, using secret histories and sacred knowledge as a way of piecing together our cultural psyche. Phyllis Grande’s “Haunted: A Visit to the Red House” focuses on the atrocities visited by Japanese soldiers on comfort women during World War 2, a horrendous collective memory that remains eerily relevant and refuses to be forgotten.
There are seven films in the full-length narrative section, including two returning alumni, two debuts and two much-awaited second features. In “Paki,” Dagitab director Giancarlo Abrahan casts veteran character actress Dexter Doria in her very first lead role as woman in her golden years whose children tries to stop her from leaving her husband of sixty years to live the rest of her days out as an old maid. Sharmaine Buencamino and Noel Trinidad co-star.
“Nervous Translation,” about a shy girl who discovers a pen that can translate the thoughts and feelings of people when they get nervous, is written and directed by Cinema One alumna Shireen Seno, whose “Big Boy” was part of Cinema One Originals 2013, itself a slightly odd, often magical childhood reverie. Jana Agoncillo and Sid Lucero star.
Richard Somes, of “Yanggaw,” “Ishmael” and “Mariposa” fame, returns to Cinema One for his fourth outing in the festival, with “Historiographika Errata,” an elaborate historical mosaic that attempts to figure out why we are what we are, throwing in the mix a suicidal Rizal, a cross-dressing Bonifacio and the widow who became the first Makapili. The sprawling, ambitious film features Joem Bascon, Alex Medina, Maxine Eigenmann and Nathalie Hart.
For his first outing with Cinema One, “Walang Forever” director Dan Villegas adapts Vincent De Jesus’ much-loved stage musical “Changing Partners,” a bittersweet exploration of relationships told in perspectives of various genders, starring Agot Isidro, Anna Luna, Jojit Lorenzo and Sandino Martin.
Kip Oebanda, fresh off the success of “Bar Boys,” is directing the aswang inversion “Nay,” about a man suffering from a terminal disease who uncovers a dark family secret. Enchong Dee, Sylvia Sanchez and Jameson Blake star.
The two first features this year are Fatrick Tabada and Rae Red’s “Si Chedeng At Si Apple,” a dark comedy where Elizabeth Oropesa and Gloria Diaz play two old girl friends who become accidental criminals and embark on a road trip with a severed head in a fake Louis Vuitton bag, and Joseph Teoxon’s time-jumping “Throwback Today,” in which Carlo Aquino plays a disgruntled young man at the end of his rope who stumbles on an impossible way to rewrite his own history. Annicka Dolonius, Empress Shuck and Allan Paule co-star.
The year’s world cinema highlights also grace this year’s foreign film line-up, a 13 strong program that includes Robin Campillo’s “Beats Per Minute,” Claire Denis’ “Let The Sun Shine In,” Francois Ozon’s “L’Amant Double,” Ildiko Enyedi’s “On Body And Soul,” Joachim Trier’s “Thelma,” Hirokazu Koreeda’s “The Third Murder,” Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “Before We Vanish,” Sebastian Leilo’s “A Fantastic Woman,” Amit Masurkar’s “Newton,” Lucrecia Martel’s “Zama, The Safdie Brothers’ Good Time,” Warwick Thornton’s “Sweet Country,” Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name,” and the 4K restoration of Steven Spielberg’s science-fiction classic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
Among the restored classics to be showcased this year include Marilou Diaz Abaya’s “Moral,” Jeffrey Sonora’s “Asedillo,” Celso Ad Castillo’s “Tag Ulan Tag Araw” and Danny Zialcita’s “Langis At Tubig.” Restored versions Zialcita’s “Karma,” Abaya’s “Karnal” and Lino Brocka’s “Cain at Abel” will also be screened.
Lastly, Sari Dalena’s documentary on Ishmael Bernal, “Ishma,” will screen to coincide with the launch of the new Ishmael Bernal book, “ProBernal Anti Bio,” written by Ishmael Bernal himself with Jorge Ayago and Angela Stuart-Santiago.
The 13th Cinema One Originals runs from November 13-21 at Trinoma, Glorietta, Gateway, UP Cine Adarna, Cinema 76 and Cinematheque with an extended run from November 22-28 at the Power Plant Mall.