Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ang Nerseri (Vic Acedillo Jr., 2009)

I would go to all Filipino films, I’d be the embodiment of a cinephage devouring all Filipino films in sight, if only this one filmic touchstone were fulfilled: the script must be original and new. Sadly, it’s one criterion that cannot float in our benighted culture, a culture of anti-intellectualism that pervades all aspects of living. We Filipinos would rather feel than think, relate to the existent than invent.

At this year’s Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, the jurors have just rewarded unoriginality yet again: Vic Acedillo Jr.’s Ang Nerseri has won the very award that it should have forfeited to win to begin with, the award for best screenplay. It is wretched irony for those who know a modicum of world cinema. Why? Because Vic Acedillo’s script blatantly borrows from well-known classics of world cinema: it cobbles together the premise of Jean-Claude Lauzon’s Leolo and the plot twists of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Nobody Knows.

Jean-Claude Lauzon’s Leolo is peopled by a family of crazies where Leolo is the seemingly unafflicted child who must make poetic sense of it all and abide by his stricken family. Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Nobody Knows, on the other hand, is about a group of siblings who are left to their own devices by an absentee and negligent mother.

Put these two films together and voila, you pretty much come up with Vic Acedillo’s Ang Nerseri. But while Leolo, a French-Canadian film, and Nobody Knows, a Japanese film, have the courage of their convictions, Ang Nerseri is too much of a crowd pleaser and chooses the easy route out. Ang Nerseri tweaks it into safe harbor: while Leolo logically culminates in the ultimate descent of the titular character into madness, Cocoy, Ang Nerseri’s central hero, is left virtually unscathed at film’s end. While Nobody Knows leaves the audience in no uncertain terms about the immorality of the mother, Ang Nerseri is more forgiving and conciliatory.

Ang Nerseri proffers to us, in fairly cloying terms, a man-child in the form of Cocoy who has the resilience of a child and the smarts and sangfroid of a matured man – in effect, an indestructible child. He has a lot of powers besides: his ubiquity (to help, to defend, to witness), his power over women, his veneer (and veneer only) of intelligence. Barely in his teens, he is practically a superhero, regardless of his kryptonite: freshman academics and Playboy magazines. And of course Jaclyn Jose, the indie film veteran, heaven forbid she gets an unsympathetic role in an indie film: surely not a two-faced mother. For Ang Nerseri’s finale, Jaclyn Jose gives us her most dignified and modulated tears: what we easily parse as tears of remorse.

Instead of bagging the award for best screenplay, Ang Nerseri should have won for best cinematography. (I haven’t seen 24K, however.) True, most of the film takes place indoors, Cocoy’s house, the neighbor’s, the hospital, but Ang Nerseri’s color design and choice of camera are, this time, yes, original. Different shades of blues and greens form the narrow yet crisp palette in an otherwise black and white film and project a cold and abnormal world appropriate for Ang Nerseri -- though at times -- and perhaps this was the knock -- these colors may look too decorative and aesthetic. In addition, the camera employed (a Canon 5-A digital still camera) also dictates the percussive rhythm of the film. It becomes a stuttering presence in some places, but its obtrusiveness blends into the dream – or perhaps nightmare? – logic of the film.

Likable – in a sterile, antiseptic way – but I prefer the originals.

Yanggaw (2008, Richard Somes)

Early editions of Cinema One Originals brought us two exemplary horror films. Topel Lee’s black-and-white film Dilim is about a male vampire who fights criminals and evil beings. It is sort of a Filipino Batman movie. The second film, Altar, was directed by Rico Ilarde. It is an excellent chiller dealing with a former boxer destined to keep an evil spirit from wrecking havoc. Both directors went on to do horror films for major studios. However, none of their well-budgeted films matched the chills of their earlier films.

Last year’s horror treat from Cinema One Originals is a fairly good movie. Yanggaw nabbed most of the awards, including the Best Director award and the Audience Choice award, at the 2008 competition. The two leads, Ronnie Lazaro and Tetchie Agbayani, grabbed the top acting plums.

Yanggaw is a Hiligaynon word meaning infected. A doctor advises Amor Villacin (Aleera Montalla) to go home to recuperate from her illness. When her bouts with sudden weakness worsen, her mother seeks help from faith healer Lazarus (Erik Matti). He tells the family members that Amor is infected by a poison of an evil spirit. Amor slowly transforms into an aswang, a monster feasting on flesh and blood.

Junior (Ronnie Lazaro) had a hard time accepting his daughter is a monster. He chains her to a bed for days but eventually frees her out of pity and paternal love. Amor starts to feed on stray animals. Soon, human corpses start to appear in the village. Junior makes a special request for Amor not to prey on her family but to kill only their neighbors and strangers.

Director and scriptwriter Somes wanted audiences to realize the repercussions of extreme loyalty to family members and kin. The excellent script deftly tackled the terrifying tendency of some Filipinos to cover up crimes of their family members. Junior and his son kept quiet about their involvement in the death of a stranger. The whole Villacin family was soon infected by this negative trait. The family members allowed Amor to quench her thirst for blood. In the end, they paid a huge price for their misdeeds.

The direction is superb although a bit stagy with the interior scenes. The director’s handling of the actors is excellent. The acting by the whole ensemble is one of the film’s best assets. I also remember the amazing special effects and sound effects. The part showing Lazarus’ attempt to expel the evil spirit is a memorable scene. It makes your blood curdle while at the same time feeling sorry for the family members.

Yanggaw may not be at par with the magnificent Altar but I liked it better than the latest horror blockbusters such as Lee’s Sundo, Ilarde’s Villa Estrella, and Chito Roño’s T2. There is no horror entry in the Cinema One Originals competition this year, so if you want to sample a Cinema One horror film, then catch Yanggaw while it is still showing at indieSine.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Colorum (Jon Steffan Ballesteros, 2009)

They proliferate and ply the metropolis like vermin. They are vehicles, outwardly and seemingly no different from the legitimate ones, operating illegally and clandestinely in the tough and immodest streets. They have no permit to exist, they abide by few rules: quick money, quick elusiveness. In Jon Steffan Ballesteros’s Colorum, they are as much about unredeemed machines as unredeemed human beings: lost souls waiting for the hard and tough epiphany of the streets.

Colorum posits such a cynical but humorous world, foregrounding protagonists who are faced by the consequences of their illegitimate deeds. Simon (Alfred Vargas) is a young cop, simultaneously idealistic and oblivious to his disappearing moral compass. After hours, he drives a colorum vehicle for his “godfather,” a police colonel who like a veritable devil is making sure that his young ward is getting promotions through the police ranks. On the face of it, however, Simon is a decent cop who won’t even think about abusing the power of the badge in his hands.

As Simon moonlights through Manila streets in his colorum FX one night, he picks up Pedro (Lou Veloso), a seemingly bewildered old man who seems to have lost his sense of direction. Unknown to Simon, Pedro has just served a 30-year sentence in prison, and is looking for his son with whom he has lost contact and who seems to have disowned him. Going in circles looking for a bus terminal, Pedro and Simon argue and run over a pedestrian. Instead of helping their victim, Simon speeds away. To make sure Pedro doesn’t squeal, Simon handcuffs him to his seat and upon instructions from his godfather, drives to faraway Ormoc, Leyte.

Colorum, from here, assumes the form of a road movie and a buddy movie – couched in humor and capped with pathos. Simon and Pedro start off as abrasive fellow travelers: the police man cuffing his aggrieved prisoner in undignified places. But their relationship is predictably dynamic, mutual fear and suspicion give way to mutual trust and friendship. Along the way, they meet and pick up a motley variety of characters, whose purgatorial states mirror Simon and Pedro’s own oscillating relationship. There is the poet (who is in the throes of despair over having lost his creativity), the pregnant teenager (who seems blithely unconcerned with abortion), and a pastor (who is also in the throes of guilt and compunction over making money out of his ministry).

Colorum is equal parts travelogue and road movie clichés. Every picturesque spot between Manila and Ormoc, highlighted by the Romualdez ancestral house in Tacloban City, becomes a backdrop for the ever-evolving relationship between the young, idealistic but ultimately oblivious Simon and the cynical and jaded but practical and pragmatic Pedro. As for clichés, we can see the relationship between the two leads moving from entropy to harmony. And the ending, featuring an act that proves declaratory and affirmative of friendship, is foreseeable.

Lou Veloso and Alfred Vargas, true to form, carry the film. Colorum is at its wittiest and funniest when Ballesteros’s script plays the two off each other. It is the cynicism of Veloso that gets most of the laughs to the detriment of the sometimes unbelievable naivety of Vargas. Together, they are a passably good comic tandem.

But Colorum is essentially about the dramatic interplay between Simon and Pedro, two ultimately similar creatures. They are two lost souls looking for redemption and respectability. Their journey may just finally afford them a coign of vantage on their own lives. Their colorum vehicle is no getaway car, but a Stygian vessel that carries lost souls in limbo, many of the borderline characters met along the way. For Simon and Pedro and those they meet, everything comes full circle in the end: the cycle of life and death; the counterpoints of purgatory and reprieve; the symmetries of dishonor and redemption.

Cinemalaya Cinco Winners at UP Diliman (Schedule of Screenings)

The UP CINEASTES' STUDIO in partnership with the UP FILM INSTITUTE present

Date: July 28-31, August 3-4
Venue : UP Film Institute (CineAdarna)

Tuesday, July 28
5pm – ENGKWENTRO by Pepe Diokno
- Special Mention
7pm – ANG NERSERI by Vic Acedillo Jr.
- Best Screenplay: Vic Acedillo Jr.

Wednesday, July 29
5pm – ASTIG by GB Sampedro
- Best Director: GB Sampedro
- Best Supporting Actor: Arnold Reyes
- Best Sound: Ditoy Aguila, Junnel Valencia and Mark Locsin
7pm – LAST SUPPER #3 by Veronica Velasco and Jinky Laurel
- Best Film

Thursday, July 30
3pm –
- Audience Choice (Shorts): Tatang
- Best Director: Dexter Cayanes (Musa)
- Best Screenplay: Mark Philipp Espina (Behind Closed Doors)
5pm –
- Best Film (Shorts): Bonsai
- Special Jury Award: Blogog

Friday, July 31
5pm – 24K by Ana Agabin
- Best Cinematography: Pao Orendain
7pm – MANGATYANAN by Jerrold Tarog
- Best Production Design: Benjamin Padero
9pm – ANG PANGGAGAHASA KAY FE by Alvin Yapan
- Special Jury Prize

Monday, August 3
5pm – COLORUM by Jon Steffan Ballesteros
- Special Jury Prize
- Best Actor: Lou Veloso
7pm – DINIG SANA KITA by Mike Sandejas
- Audience Choice
- Best Original Music Score: Francisbrew Reyes

Tuesday, August 4
5pm – SANGLAAN by Milo Sogueco
- Best Actress: Ina Feleo
- Best Supporting Actress: Tessie Tomas
7pm – LAST SUPPER #3 by Veronica Velasco and Jinky Laurel
- Best Film

TICKETS are at 80Php each.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sanglaan (2009, Milo Sogueco)

I haven't decided which among Sanglaan and Engkwentro is my pick for the top film of Cinemalaya Cinco. I need to catch up again with Engkwentro. But, if I were to choose my favorite movie, then it will have to be Sanglaan. It is one of the best multi-character films done the Cinemalaya way.

The well-written characters are portrayals of people we ordinarily bumped into in the streets of Metro Manila. A greencard holder named Olivia (Tessie Tomas) manages a small pawnshop. She refuses to go to the United States because she'll probably end up as nanny of her grandchildren. Helping her at the pawnshop is an adoptive family member, Amy (Ina Feleo). The pawnshop's security guard named Kanor Sevilla (Jess Evardone) and his wife Esing (Flor Salanga) subleases an apartment. Their current tenant is Amy's high-school crush, David Santillan (Joem Bascon). He is a seaman waiting for a call to go onboard a ship. The last, but not the least, character is loan shark Henry (Ryan Neil Sese), an ardent admirer of Amy.

With this film, Ina Feleo might as well be tagged as princess of proletarian romances. She portrays Amy, a devoted romance pocketbook reader and sentimental appraiser at the pawnshop. Just when she gets close to the boy of her dreams, fate intervenes. In a nod to the film Endo, romantic affair must give way once more to port calls and dollars. Ordinary employees and wage-earners sometimes end up forgoing their romantic dreams because they barely make enough money for their own expenses. When they do go out on dates, a simple bowl of noodles is accepted main course for cash-strapped employees.

Director and co-scriptwriter Milo Sogueco has an observant eye. He knows the aspirations and dreams of ordinary Filipinos. He essays their close family relationships and their fondness for eating. The film's most memorable scene involves Olivia preparing a snack called ginataang bilo-bilo. When Amy arrived, Olivia serves her a bowl of the snack. Audience starts to expect something like an apology because of an earlier rift, or a chat about Olivia's possible departure for the USA. Sogueco brilliantly turns the scene into a priceless portrait of family bonding. Amy gets confirmation that she is not just an ordinary employee. She is a well-loved member of Olivia's family.

Filipinos endure life's trials and tribulations. They survive because of the love and support from family members and extended kin. That love is the reason why Filipinos value things given by their family members. Appraiser Amy goes out of her way to raise funds needed to get back the pawned ring of David. Kanor seeks money in order to get back a pawned television. How deep is Filipinos' love for their kin? Deep enough for them to sacrifice a kidney.

There is something that prevents people from being bowled over by the film. They tend to admire the film but can't seem to pick it as one of the best full-length features of Cinemalaya Cinco. The film seems too bland for their tastes. Parang kulang sa patis.

But, I think there will be others who will be raving over the comforting warmth of Sanglaan. I loved this little gem of a film. It reminds me of a Ma Mon Luk meal with family members and loved ones. Simple but fulfilling. Bland but warms the heart. Inexpensive but elicits priceless images of love and family bonding.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Namets! (2008, Jay Abello)

‘Namets’ is a Hiligaynon slang meaning yummy. This above-average romantic comedy has a certain magical touch that will make you yearn for sumptuous Negrosanon food. I’ve had strong cravings for finger-licking good napoleones and mouth-watering chicken inasal after watching this movie.

Of all the Italian restaurants, in all the towns, in all the world, Cassie Labayen (Angel Jacob) walks into Puccini’s restaurant, owned by Jacko Teves (Christian Vasquez). They rekindle their romance amidst the task of transforming the Italian restaurant into a local restaurant that will feature the best regional food.

Indeed, the revamped restaurant, and the film, became a showcase of popular local cuisine and idiosyncratic local food habits in Negros Occidental. Namets! is the second film of director Jay Abello to deal with Negrosanon culture. Indie filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik praised Abello’s debut film Ligaw Liham. He acknowledged the young director’s ability to bring out the essence of Negros Occidental. The script was full of loopholes but the look and feel of the film was purely magic. Viewers were transported back to the glory days of Negros Occidental.

In 2008, Abello dug deep once again into his ‘sariling duende’ and came up with Namets! The decision to use Hiligaynon language was simply inspired. It enhanced the local flavor of the film, which was shot entirely in the Visayan province of Negros Occidental. Some food segments fall flat but the hospital scene is fantastic. There’s also a memorable scene featuring a father teaching his children how to prepare sauce for chicken inasal. He instructs them how to properly eat the chicken.

A plethora of mostly Ilonggo actors greatly helped in sprucing up the authentic ambience of the film. The pairing of Vasquez and Jacob was pure chemistry. Dwight Gaston was excellent as the right hand of Boss Dolpo. It was nice to see Monsour del Rosario on the widescreen once more. Heavily made-up Joel Torre played a cave man who unwittingly discovered fire in 23436 BC. The cave man tried to put out the fire by throwing a chicken on the flame. He failed to quash the fire but came up with the first fried chicken in Negros. Peque Gallaga, mentor of budding regional filmmakers, had fun with his mumbling Don Corleone-type character. The only intelligible word to come out from his mouth was ‘namets!’

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Engkwentro (Pepe Diokno, 2009)

Sure we’ll grant that Pepe Diokno’s first feature-length film, Engkwentro, is daringly conceived. Everything is orchestrated in such a way that the story wraps up in a handful of takes, marshalled in a surprisingly brief running time. Sure, too, it has its metaphors right: characters inhabit the locale of the story – the shantytown of an unnamed city – like small trapped animals in a terrarium. We get that much. But these descriptions are misleading and hollow: Engkwentro is, we must say in advance, a well-envisioned but callowly executed film.

Engkwentro is prefaced with the sobering facts in an epigraph detailing the number of extra-judicial executions perpetrated by death squads in the Philippines: 814 victims in the last decade or so – mostly at the expense of petty criminals. The film quickly opens in a slum where Richard, a small-time gangster, is anxious to raise money for his escape after word gets around that he has been marked for execution by the vigilantes. Jenny-Jane, his girlfriend, is amenable to his plan and has agreed to get away with him. Richard, however, can’t seem to get through to his younger brother to join them. He is slowly falling in with the wrong crowd, in particular, the gang of Tomas, who also happens to be Richard’s rival in love. Tomas is not about to become a cardboard nemesis for Richard.

Engkwentro, thankfully, mercifully, ends in almost exactly an hour. Produced, written and directed by Diokno, it is meant to be a kinetic and restive ride that would have worn out its welcome had it gone on too long, what with the director’s decision to use handheld cameras. But this is also perhaps its weakness: there seems little time to individualize its characters. The cameras seem consumed to trace all the dead-end alleyways of the slums, the unlit, pitch-dark nights, and the rattling textures of corrugated rooftops. Diokno and his cinematographer seem too caught up with their whiz-bang ethic for this film at the expense of story and characterization. Contrary to advance write-ups, Engkwentro is not done in a single take. No, Sokurov’s Russian Ark has no rival at the moment.

Perhaps the main achievement that Engkwentro will be known for will not be its technical bravura and wizardry but its sociopolitical commentary (the references are suspiciously familiar that it borders on being propaganda against Rodrigo Duterte, the mayor of Davao City.) Superimposed on the soundtrack throughout the film are excerpts from the political speeches of the city mayor speaking in an unknown dialect, who vows to fight criminality with an iron hand and usher in progress. These speeches are edited and interwoven so wittily and ingeniously that they sound frighteningly like maniacal, self-incriminating confessions of a madman, recalling Hitler and the rest of his speechifying Nazi henchmen. Their exhortations for a new society (rubbed in by ‘Bagong Lipunan,’ that Marcosian soundtrack, at the end) contrast grimly and humorlessly with what goes on in the slums.

Most of Engkwentro, however, has been an afterthought. Some scenes look severely underlit – this might be the cinematographer’s contribution to create a spiritually dark environment for this hell on earth. Shot supposedly in high definition, some scenes just take place in the dark as the cinematographer, going a la intrepid documentarist, tries to catch up with the warring gangsters chasing after each other in the narrow mazes of the slums. Combined with its other visual and narrative deficiencies, Engkwentro comes close to being unwatchable. Shots are fired, some characters fall dead, and we simply shrug our shoulders. We are almost glad that it ended so soon.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cinemalaya Cinco (Festival pass, tips, et al.)

Here are ten tips for Cinemalaya newbies:

1) Check synopses and screening schedules of films at the Cinemalaya and Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) websites:

2) Get your tickets or passes at the CCP Box Office and Ticketworld. Now!

Regular Screening Price PHP 100.00
Student Price PHP 50.00
Day Pass PHP 300.00 Good for 5 screenings per day
Festival Pass PHP 1,000.00 Good for all screenings
Congress Pass
PHP 500.00 2-day package for non-students
PHP 250.00 Special 2-day package for students
PHP 300.00 1-day package for non-students
Senior Citizen 20% off Regular Screening Price

Call the CCP Box Office at 832-3704 and TicketWorld at 891-9999

3) Go early to the CCP Building to avoid long queues. Every guest is checked for fever as a precaution against Influenza A(H1N1)

4) Wear thick clothing or just bring a jacket. Every venue at the CCP is icy-cold

5) Nothing to do after viewing a film? Check out the exhibits at the CCP. There is a Cinemalaya film poster and memorabilia exhibit at the Little Theatre lobby

6) Savor the film festival atmosphere. Enjoy the endless stream of celebrities and film personalities. Take notice of what films are making a buzz

7) Take your meal before or after each film screening. No food and drinks are allowed inside CCP screening venues

8) Although screening changes are rare, make it a habit to ask for possible screening updates from the courteous CCP staff. Who knows, you might end up meeting Ms. Vanessa Valencia, beauteous star of the Cinemalaya Cinco ad teaser 'Saan Nagtatago ang CCP?'

9) Digital cameras and camcorders, especially bulky ones, are sometimes asked to be left at the package counter

10) If you've seen an excellent film, then share the love. Spread the good news

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bente (2009, Mel Chionglo)

Photographs of various people fill up the movie screen. Most are photos of adult people. Some look like ordinary college girls. A few faces look familiar. Then, you read the names. Rebelyn Pitao. Sherlyn Cadapan. Karen Empeño. And, it quickly dawns on you that they are victims of extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances in the Philippines.

Bente is the latest independent film to deal with the culture of violence in our country. The fast-paced thriller started strong with the slideshow of photos. There is also a footage of an interview with Edith Burgos, mother of desaparecido Jonas. The movie chugged along at a frantic pace and was fortunate to avoid being a total wreck at the end.

A badly-edited action segment nearly ruined the movie. It seems odd that an assassin will kill someone in a crowded mall but action film fanatic Caloy (Ryan Eigenmann) is no ordinary assassin. He is excited to have his first kill and doesn't care where it will happen. The editing could have been tightened a bit more, though. Nevertheless, the focused and courageous movie is still one of the best films released so far in 2009.

Bente (twenty) refers to the lowest paper bill in circulation in the country. Scriptwriter Ricky Lee suggests that the life of an ordinary Filipino is sometimes worth only twenty pesos. A glance at the headlines gave credence to Lee's observation. Political killings remain unabated because of the scarcity of people convicted for extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances. Two journalists were killed in June 2009.

Every day, radio commentator Arnie Guerrero (Jinggoy Estrada) castigates the town mayor for graft and corruption. He minces no words in his radio show. His wife (Snooky Serna) reminds him to tone down his criticisms, but he just shrugs it off and reminds his wife that the mayor is a childhood friend who will never do him harm.

Student activist leader Mervin (Aldred Gatchalian) is aware of being stalked by people determined to stop him from doing his activities. He wasn't bullied into giving up. His pregnant wife (Glaiza de Castro) advises him to take a break from activism. He responded by narrating the tale of a prince who gave up his life in order to save his beloved princess from the clutches of an evil being.

Dina (Iza Calzado) is a wife with a death wish. She is stuck to a loveless marriage with a political assassin (Richard Gomez). Every time they make love, she is reminded of the rape incident that ultimately led to their marriage.

Arnie. Mervin. Dina. Three rebels yearning for a better life. Three souls willing to die for their causes. Three people linked together in the chain of violence.

Bente never wavered from its focus. From start to finish, it highlighted the importance of fighting for a cause. The film repeatedly asks the question: Are you willing to die for your cause? Mervin once said 'A life lived in fear is a life half lived.' So, even after having a close brush with death, he continues to fight for social justice.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ded Na Si Lolo (2009, Soxie Topacio)

A brainchild of Tony Tuviera and the Directors Guild of the Philippines Inc., Sine Direk is one of the best things to happen to Philippine cinema in 2009. The movie project provided a grant of 2 million pesos each to six directors. It produced five well-made films, and only one clunker, Fuschia.

A top-notch Sine Direk production, Ded Na Si Lolo is one of the best Filipino comedy films I've seen in years. A hybrid of Pamahiin, Jay, and Crying Ladies, this is a film that is truly Filipino. All the drama, all the mystery, and all the superstitions associated with bereavement were given their share of the limelight in this laugh-out-loud film.

I can deeply relate with the movie. For years, I've been wondering about the need to follow countless superstitions such as cutting a rosary into pieces in order to avoid immediate death of another family member. But, how soon is an immediate death? Isn’t it that we all die in the end? All my unspoken thoughts and objections about following superstitions were concretized in hilarious fashion in this film.

Filmmaker Manuel Conde remarked that the best comedy films contain scenes that mirror the behavior of real people. The goal is to make viewers see themselves in the movie and laugh at their own behavior. Maybe, just maybe, the viewers will change their laughable behavior.

Roderick Paulate, playing a gay impersonator, leads a cast of veteran actors such as Gina Alajar and Elizabeth Oropesa. They had so much fun working as a team that it rubbed off on the movie. The spontaneous interactions and ad-libs of the actors gave the film a carefree and vivacious feel to it.

Director Soxie Topacio was so sure of the film's blockbuster and critical appeal that he included a teaser for a possible sequel at the film's end credits. Sure enough, Ded Na Si Lolo became a hit, though not on the same level as the mega-millions of You Changed My Life. But, if we consider a week-long theatrical run for an indie film as a mild success, then the month-long run of Ded Na Si Lolo at SM Megamall is truly phenomenal. It serves notice to producers that people do patronize excellent movies. I hope Sine Direk returns for a second installment in 2010.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa, 2004)

For the most part of his life, Tony Takitani has cherished a solitary existence . As a middle-aged bachelor, he sets store by his solitude, content in a job that allows him a measure of self-containment, and oblivious to everything else. As a voice-over narrator explains, the status quo seems “the most natural thing in the world.” It isn’t a lonely life but one inured to the absence of family. Tony’s one remaining relation is his itinerant father who has always been away on gigs playing the trombone in a jazz band.

But the proverbial curve ball comes hurtling his way in the form of Eiko, a stylish, young and beautiful fellow artist at work. Tony is drawn to her for some strange reason that he can only attribute to her materialistic obsession – a mania for fashion and expensive designer clothes. All of a sudden, something without precedent has clicked in Tony Takitani, the human instinct to love.

But this is merely one half of Tony Takitani’s story. What perhaps it is in a deeper sense is not just the advent of love, but the eventual recuperation from loss. This film charts the emotional awakening of Tony Takitani.

Far from the routine implications of the everyday themes of love and loss, Tony Takitani is no prosaic story, but a hauntingly poetic character study of its titular protagonist. It’s a slow and meditative examination of a character who is discovering belatedly what it means to be human.

Director Jun Ichikawa observes the cycle of bliss and bereavement with equal restraint and equanimity. He constructs a chamber drama like a Japanese scroll, as we follow what feels like one 75-minute-long tracking shot from beginning to end. The cinematography proceeds with a slow and stately inevitability propelled by its lead character’s instinctual, immutable feelings.

Tony Takitani is a hymn to love and loss and Ichikawa stays within that purview. When Eiko, whom Tony has married, dies in a car crash, Tony’s decision to make Hisako, a dead-ringer for Eiko, wear his dead wife’s clothes as a sign of his mourning may recall what happens in Hitchcock’s Vertigo. But it stays a safe distance a way. There is also no enshrinement of the relics of Hisako – a whole room of clothes and shoes – that might reference the ghoulish extremes of Truffaut’s The Green Room.

There is a kind of spiritual release in the scenes where Tony decides what to do with the earthly reminders of both Eiko and his father. What Ichikawa has captured in Tony Takitani is the transcendence of the earthly, a reaffirmation of what is essential and truly important. And Tony’s last act will make you nod in approval.

Foster Child (Brillante Mendoza, 2007)

There is a special attentiveness, an almost preternatural solicitousness that accompanies the care of the titular child in Brillante Mendoza’s Foster Child. Even before the foster family can settle down to eat the first meal of the day, one of them must hurry out to buy diapers for the urine-drenched child. Instead of receiving stern discipline for wetting himself, this child is lavished with understanding and affection. During the course of long days in an overcrowded warren of suburban Manila, the foster child named John-John (Kier Segundo) receives devotional attention: he is fed, bathed, clothed with a kind of care that foster mother Thelma (Cherry Pie Picache) may not have given her own children.

It’s a premise fraught with the kind of emotional largesse that will appeal to this country of bleeding hearts, but the biggest virtue of this film is the restraint of Brillante Mendoza’s direction. Histrionics do not figure much in the director’s scheme of things. With a treatment that combines neorealist concerns and settings (Visconti’s Bellissima comes to mind) and both the thematic and cinematographic approaches of the Dardenne Brothers, Foster Child dwells tastefully on the dilemma inherent in foster care: what happens when a foster family becomes too attached to a foster child?

In Foster Child, Thelma and her family initially appear to have mastered the art of child rearing and the emotions of inevitable separation. As the film begins, it’s been eight practiced years since Thelma entered the fostering business. Everyone in the family is involved – mother, father (Dan Alvaro) and two sons – in lavishing love on the foster child. Even Thelma’s seemingly neglected son, Yuri (Jiro Manio), is no less caring for him. He cooks meals for him and carries him around like a younger brother.

The most crucial care, however, comes from Thelma. She is introduced as a model foster mother, never choosing a child to bring home, whether healthy or, say, afflicted with retardation. Her current “assignment,” John-John, however, is unlike any other: fair-skinned, mild-mannered and good-looking. (The filmmakers opted for an easy sell, it seems.) As John-John’s identity becomes clear – his abandonment at the orphanage, Hospicio de San Jose, in a sickly and premature condition – Thelma’s role in bringing him up becomes apparent to the viewer.

What we know about Thelma is beyond reproach – except perhaps for the fact that she might be deemed to be slightly naïve. Approached by a woman mendicant carrying a child, Thelma doesn’t hesitate to help her with some loose change. Bianca (Eugene Domingo), the social worker who gives Thelma her assignments, is more cynical but practical: she reproaches Thelma for abetting the crime of begging, and being fooled by someone using a child as an emotional bait.

The penultimate scenes at the plush hotel where Thelma and Bianca have brought John-John to turn him over to his new family (a wealthy American family) are by turns humorous and poignant. It seems like a cruel joke and yet necessary to involve the foster mother in these proceedings –in a final leave-taking, as it were. At one point, Thelma brings out a lovingly made photo album chronicling John-John’s young life. In her best but broken English, she proudly points out the milestones of the child’s early years, those tenuous years that will soon be forgotten.

As Foster Child reveals there is an entire cottage industry revolving around foster care in this country. What director Mendoza and scriptwriter Ralston Jover have brilliantly conceived and ably dramatized is how emotionally costly foster care can prove to be. Giving care, giving love, can never be so depersonalized as to be a simple cut-and-dried economic activity. Foster children should never change hands like mere commodities. Foster Child is a tragic tale that will break your heart.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cinemalaya Cinco (Must-see films)

It’s that time of year again. Cinephiles and film buffs will trek once more to the far-away place called the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Derided as Cinemalayo festival, pilgrims still come in droves yearly to take part in the largest and most organized local film event, the Cinemalaya International Independent Film Festival.

The fifth edition of the festival promises to be the best of them all. There is a retrospective of films by National Artist for Film, Lino Brocka. The must-see films are Bona, Orapronobis, and Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag.

Yearning for a more current crop of excellent films? Check out the Indie Ani section of the festival. This section features the best independent films released in 2008 until the first half of 2009. Imburnal, Best Picture winner at the Cinema One and Cinemanila competitions, will be screened along with Raya Martin's films (Manila, Independencia, and Next Attraction) and top-notch Sine Direk finalists (Bente and Ded Na Si Lolo). Other recommended films are Ditsi Carolino’s documentary Lupang Hinarang, Lav Diaz’s epic Melancholia and Francis Pasion’s Jay.

Also slated are Philippine (and world) premieres of Ralston Jover’s Baseco Bakal Boys, Auraeus Solito’s Boy, and Yeng Grande's Prince of Cockfighting. Of course, the 20 competing films will also make their debut at the competition. Pepe Diokno’s Engkwentro seems to be a hybrid of Imburnal and Tribu. I also look forward to viewing the Shorts A Program. Hmm, a short film based on poems by Huseng Batute and Amado Hernandez? Count me in.

Do you want to spend quality time with your family? Bring your kids to the festival during weekends. Notable treats for the whole family include Pepot Artista, Pisay, Boses, and Andong. Films included in the Kids Treats section are popular with moviegoers. So, better buy your tickets in advance.

Ticket sales info:

CCP Box Office
#832.1125 local 1406
# 891.9999

Screening schedules of must-see non-competing films:

MANILA (2009, Raya Martin & Adolf Alix Jr.)
6:00 pm, 17 July/Friday
- Special Screening, Cannes Film Festival
- This two-part film, dealing with the denizens living in the seedy underbelly of the city of Manila, will be the opening film of Cinemalaya Cinco. Free admission!!!

NEXT ATTRACTION (2008, Raya Martin)
3:30 pm, 18 July/Saturday
- Next Attraction is about a behind-the-scenes documentary of an ongoing short film production starring Jacklyn Jose, Coco Martin and Paolo Rivero

INDEPENDENCIA (2009, Raya Martin)
9:00 pm, 19 July/Sunday
- Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival
- Synopsis: A dark-skinned mother and her son flee to the mountains to escape the wrath of the American troops. One day, her son brings home an abused young woman. Nine months later, the mysterious stranger gives birth to a fair-skinned baby boy.

LUPANG HINARANG (2009, Ditsi Carolino)
6:15 pm, 21 July/Tuesday
- Ditsi Carolino is the director of the excellent documentaries, Minsan Lang Sila Bata and Riles. Her latest documentary deals with the fierce and deadly battle raging between farmers and landowners in the continuing saga of agrarian reform in the Philippines.
*Film has same time slot with Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag

6:15 pm, 21 July/Tuesday
- Lino Brocka's internationally acclaimed masterpiece is often cited as his best film
*Film has same time slot with Lupang Hinarang

BENTE (2009, Mel Chionglo)
9:00 pm, 21 July/Tuesday
- One of the best films of 2009, the Sine Direk film examines the culture of violence in our society

BONA (1980, Lino Brocka)
6:15 pm, 22 July/Wednesday
- Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival
- It may be the definitive slum drama masterpiece of Lino Brocka

ORAPRONOBIS (1989, Lino Brocka)
3:30 pm, 24 July/Friday
- Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival
- A courageous film showing human rights abuses under the administration of President Corazon Aquino

IMBURNAL (2008, Sherad Anthony Sanchez)
6:15 pm, 24 July/Friday
- Best Picture, Cinemanila 2008 and Cinema One Originals 2008
- My pick for best local film of 2008. An experimental look at the extra-judicial killings in the city of Davao
- Running time is 3 hours and 30 minutes

DED NA SI LOLO (2009, Soxie Topacio)
9:00 pm, 24 July/Friday
- Synopsis: A young boy named Bobet gets a glimpse on how a Filipino family grieves. He learns the significance of a pink chick atop the coffin, the reason why aunts faint, and the importance of following countless superstitions.

JAY (2008, Francis Pasion)
9:00 pm, 25 July/Saturday
- Best Picture, Cinemalaya 2008
- Synopsis: Channel 8 journalist Jay Santiago is making a docu-show on the death of gay teacher, Jay Mercado. He uses his coercive powers to convince people to talk in front of the television camera.

MELANCHOLIA (2008, Lav Diaz)
10:00 am, 26 July/Sunday
- Synopsis: Three relatives of desaparecidos meet yearly to participate in an experiment designed to cure them of sadness and pain. Julian, Alberta and Rina immerse themselves into different personalities for weeks. Then, one day, a member decided to break loose from the coping exercise.
- Running time is 540 minutes

How to get to CCP:

a) Alabang to CCP

At Metropolis, take the Pasay Rotonda PUJ
Alight at Edsa-Taft Rotonda, take the LRT
Alight at the Vito Cruz station, take the Orange jeepney bound for CCP

b) España to CCP

From España, take the jeepney bound for Vito Cruz or Baclaran
Alight at Vito Cruz, take the Orange jeepney bound for CCP

c) Ayala to CCP

From Ayala, take a bus going to Baclaran (this will pass Buendia/Gil Puyat). Get off at LRT Taft corner Buendia/Gil Puyat. Take a Blumentritt/Quiapo bound jeep, get off at Vito Cruz. Just a stone’s throw away, there are orange colored jeeps which will pass by CCP.

d) Baclaran to CCP

Take an FX bound to Lawton.
This FX will pass by CCP complex, get off at Vito Cruz (now P. Ocampo St.) intersection.
Cross the street to CCP.

e) Baclaran to CCP (via LRT)

Take the LRT to Vito Cruz. Ride the orange jeepney and alight at CCP

f) Monumento to CCP (via LRT)

Take the LRT to Vito Cruz. Ride the orange jeepney and alight at CCP

Cinemalaya ad tagline:

Whatever it takes

For the love of films

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mind Game (Masaaki Yuasa, 2004)

If Japanese animation is riding high in recent times, it seems easy to point to Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli as its most popular exponents. With their films outselling Hollywood products at the top of the box office, Miyazaki and company have become the most recognizable ambassadors of anime at home and abroad. They are, however, not the be-all and end-all of anime. There is a diverse range of anime being churned out of cartoon-crazy Japan. It’s not at all a monolithic tower built by one company.

If you deem the Ghibli output to be too safe, too timid and too antiseptic, Mind Game can be a good antithesis. Although not an extreme example, Mind Game doesn’t fit any easy category either. In a nutshell, the clash of adult themes and dream logic makes Mind Game either a dazzling watch or a frustrating experience. What is certain is that Mind Game will make you see anime in a different light.

The story is simple enough, but the interstitial spaces in between aren’t. Nishi, an aspiring manga writer, meets Myon, an intimate in high school, after a long time. It's a meeting that rekindles old feelings for Nishi. Myon invites him to the family sushi bar, where yakuza thugs show up looking for Myon’s father. Unable to find their man, the thugs start to raise hell, in the mayhem of which Nishi kills one of them. Nishi, Myon and Myon’s sister escape in a car and are chased through city streets. They overshoot a bridge, land in the river and end up being swallowed by a gigantic whale. They discover not just an old man trapped in the whale’s belly for 30 years, but a veritable world that can provide a certain refuge.

What remains unsaid, however, is that this is just one possibility of the story. It’s not far from the realm of the possible that none of this happened, that Nishi may have been killed instead of the gangster, that Nishi and Myon never met at all, that the entrapment within the whale’s belly is all a figment. Mind Game lives up to the promise of its title and weaves together the real and the possible in one dazzling and astonishing movie.

While the current run of anime affords us visually and thematically safe and harmless fare, Mind Game offers what is deemed deviant and taboo: scatological humor, buxomy, hentai imagery, the raw and gritty aspects of the underworld, orgies and other plentiful sexual references – all done in a surprisingly none-too-cynical manner. As Robin Nishi, the creator of the manga on which Yuasa based his film, reveals: Mind Game was never meant for the masses but a niche audience.

It’s a niche that is further narrowed down by the film’s multiple realities, its convoluted bifurcations. The imagery that reels off is like the imagery of a near-death experience (indeed it is, Nishi, in one strand, ascends to what must be purgatory and bargains for his life): the images are staccato-quick, forming split-second trains of montage. Everything literally goes here; one has the sensation that many different anime movies -- dozens, perhaps even hundreds -- are excerpted and spliced together.

Mind Game is all about the many possibilities that life presents. It’s about second chances. In Robin Nishi’s words, it’s about “physical death and reincarnation.” And Mind Game fulfills its visual promise to show us world after world of possibilities, the world we are choosing, the world we omit. Whether all these images cohere for us seem secondary. Life, after all, is about taking a leap of faith.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Memories of Matsuko (Tetsuya Nakashima, 2006)

Bless her poor soul. All she ever wanted was to do right by her loved-ones. All she ever did was to give a part of her self with little expectation of reward. But hers was not a perfect world. Life would boomerang on her despite her best efforts. This, in essence, is the sad trajectory of Matsuko's worldly existence.

At first blush, it seems like a subject matter meant solely for a downbeat film. Memories of Matsuko, however, manages to achieve a more complex feat, a more multifaceted and more polyphonic film than might appear on paper. It tones down the tragic in favor of a hyper-realistic portrait of the comic and the dramatic. It’s a movie that tries and succeeds in not playing it straight and yet retains the sad eventfulness of its heroine's story. Oscillating between its evocation of humor and pathos in 127 minutes of sheer emotional push and pull, it aims true for the heart.

We learn about Matsuko, however, by second hand and in flashbacks. By the time the film begins, she is a box full of ashes. Her nephew Shou, a directionless youth, has been tasked by his father to clean out his dead aunt’s apartment. Shou hardly knew her. Yet in death, Matsuko might just affect the tenor of his disaffected life.

Matsuko’s fall from favor is rooted in childhood -- her father rejecting her in favor of her sickly younger sister -- but culminates when she protects her high school student who is suspected of theft. She takes the blame for it and is discharged from her duties in dishonor. Her family, most especially her father whose approval Matsuko seeks, disowns her.

Thrown out of the family, Matsuko rebounds from one abusive relationship to another, as she looks for companionship that has long eluded her. Almost all her lovers, however, prove to be wrong choices: There’s an aspiring but heavy-handed writer who takes his own life, a married man who is simply jealous of the writer, a pimp, a yakuza thug who is as fearsome as his tattoos. When she seems to have found the right man, she is thrown into jail for a crime she has been running away from.

Finely balanced between comedy and drama, Memories of Matsuko is leavened by pop tunes and musical numbers whose lyrics are relevant to the moment and the fate of its heroine. It’s a film that mixes tone in just the right proportions and emerges as both entertainment and as serious meditation on a life tracing a downward spiral.

The life of Matsuko is pretty much the stuff of soap operas – only her life seems without payoff and redemption. The film, however, never faults her for her ill-advised decisions, although there is a lot of them. Prostituting herself? No. Murdering her lover? No. Refusing help when she most needs it? No.

This is the achievement of Nakashima’s film: Matsuko remains sympathetic all throughout despite her flaws. Memories of Matsuko feels neither too oppressively heavy nor too insistent on pulling at our heartstrings – at least not until the end. We are simply dazzled by the visual sumptuousness on the screen, the gloss and the crisp, rich colors that recall the best color movies (Gone With the Wind is one of the conscious references.). We are likewise diverted by the many incarnations of Matsuko, as well as the colorful characters that she meets: her shady jobs, the porn actress, the suicidal writer, the yakuza gangster, her bedridden sister, the boy band.

As her murder unfolds at film's end, the bittersweet irony clarifies: Matsuko has genuinely touched a few lives, even those who could only respond with treachery. When it's all over, there is but a single abiding image: her face and lips puckered at us, a woman not ashamed to make herself look silly just to make our day.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cinemalaya Cinco (Schedule of Screenings: Competition Films)

The 5th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival
17 to 26 July 2009
At the Cultural Center of the Philippines

Schedule of Screenings: THE COMPETITION FILMS

The 10 Cinemalaya 2009 Full-Lengths:

24K by Ana Agabin
• 19 July/Sun, 6:15PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 21 July/Tue, 12:45PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 22 July/Wed, 9:00PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 23 July/Thu, 6:15PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 24 July/Fri, 9:00PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 25 July/Sat, 12:45PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 26 July/Sun, 3:30PM at VENUE 2 - Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)

ANG NERSERI by Vic Acedillo Jr.
• 18 July/Sat, 6:15PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 19 July/Sun, 12:45PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 21 July/Tue, 12:45PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 23 July/Thu, 3:30PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 24 July/Fri, 9:00PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 25 July/Sat, 3:30PM at VENUE 2 - Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)
• 26 July/Sun, 3:30PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)

• 18 July/Sat, 3:30PM at VENUE 2 - Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)
• 19 July/Sun, 9:00PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 21 July/Tue, 6:15PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 22 July/Wed, 12:45PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 23 July/Thu, 3:30PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 24 July/Fri, 12:45PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 25 July/Sat, 3:30PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute

ASTIG by GB Sampedro
• 18 July/Sat, 9:00PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 19 July/Sun, 3:30PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 21 July/Tue, 3:30PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 22 July/Wed, 9:00PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 23 July/Thu, 6:15PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 24 July/Fri, 12:45PM at VENUE 2 - Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)
• 25 July/Sat, 6:15PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)

COLORUM by Jon Stefan Ballesteros
• 18 July/Sat, 3:30PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 19 July/Sun, 6:15PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 22 July/Wed, 9:00PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 23 July/Thu, 9:00PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 24 July/Fri, 3:30PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 25 July/Sat, 12:45PM at VENUE 2 - Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)
• 25 July/Sat, 6:15PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute

DINIG SANA KITA by Mike Sandejas
• 18 July/Sat, 6:15PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 19 July/Sun, 12:45PM at VENUE 2 - Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)
• 21 July/Tue, 9:00PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 22 July/Wed, 3:30PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 23 July/Thu, 6:15PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 24 July/Fri, 12:45PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 25 July/Sat, 6:15PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)

ENGKWENTRO by Pepe Diokno
• 18 July/Sat, 9:00PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 19 July/Sun, 6:15PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 21 July/Tue, 6:15PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 22 July/Wed, 3:30PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 23 July/Thu, 12:45PM at VENUE 2 - Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)
• 24 July/Fri, 9:00PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 25 July/Sat, 9:00PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)

LAST SUPPER NO.3 by Roni Velasco & Jinky Laurel
• 18 July/Sat, 3:30PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 19 July/Sun, 3:30PM at VENUE 2 - Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)
• 21 July/Tue, 3:30PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 22 July/Wed, 3:30PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 23 July/Thu, 9:00PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 24 July/Fri, 6:15PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 25 July/Sat, 9:00PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)

MANGATYANAN by Jerrold Tarog
• 18 July/Sat, 9:00PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 19 July/Sun, 3:30PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 21 July/Tue, 6:15PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 22 July/Wed, 12:45PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 23 July/Thu, 3:30PM at VENUE 2 - Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)
• 24 July/Fri, 6:15PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 25 July/Sat, 12:45PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute

SANGLAAN by Milo Sogueco
• 18 July/Sat, 12:45PM at VENUE 2 - Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)
• 19 July/Sun, 9:00PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 21 July/Tue, 9:00PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 22 July/Wed, 6:15PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 23 July/Thu, 12:45PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 24 July/Fri, 3:30PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 25 July/Sat, 3:30PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)

The Cinemalaya 2009 Shorts:

MUSA by Dexter Cayanes, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by Mark Philipp Espina, TATANG Jean Paolo Nico Hernandez, HULAGPOS by Maita Lirra Lupac, WAT FLOOR MA'AM by Mike Escareal Sandejas & Robert Sena
• 18 July/Sat, 6:15PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 19 July/Sun, 9:00PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 21 July/Tue, 3:30PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 22 July/Wed, 6:15PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 23 July/Thu, 12:45PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 24 July/Fri, 3:30PM at VENUE 2 - Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)
• 25 July/Sat, 9:00PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute

UGAT SA LUPA by Ariel Reyes, SI BOK AT ANG TRUMPO by Hubert Tibi, LATUS by John Paul Seniel, BLOGOG by Rommel "Milo" Tolentino, BONSAI by Alfonso "Borgy" Torre III
• 18 July/Sat, 12:45PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 21 July/Tue, 9:00PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 22 July/Wed, 6:15PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 23 July/Thu, 9:00PM at VENUE 5 - Tanghalang Huseng Batute
• 24 July/Fri, 6:15PM at VENUE 4 - Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
• 25 July/Sat, 3:30PM at VENUE 1 - Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theatre)
• 26 July/Sun, 12:45PM at VENUE 2 - Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)

For ticket sales info, call CCP Box Office at 8321125 local 1406.