Nov 7, 2017

In Philippine cinema, December used to be the most beautiful time of the year. Now, the ever-present independent theaters and university tours have turned it into a yearlong affair.

August, October, and November are particularly special, though. Why? It’s that time of the year when notable film festivals wallow in all their moviemaking potential: Cinemalaya in August, QCinema in October, and Cinema One Originals this month.

This year’s potential breakout hit Call Me By Your Name brings to mind last year’s Best Picture: 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten, Petersen Vargas’ daring coming-of-age that had audiences—including yours truly—on the edge of their seats. Both coming-of-age films that tackle friendship and first love will be shown at the festival. Then there’s also the restored section. This year, I’m particularly looking forward to Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s Moral. It’s one of the films I’ve been wanting to watch since I read an excerpt of its screenplay from Ricky Lee’s Trip to Quiapo. Made in 1982, Moral depicts the struggles of four women in a patriarchal society—and the questions raised still resonates with today’s society.

Cinema One Originals never fails to create a diverse lineup of foreign films and restored classics, but the main competition lineup always takes center stage. Running from Nov. 13 to 22 in various cinemas across Metro Manila, this year’s festival takes on the theme “Walang Takot,” which for me, gives Cinema One Originals mysterious allure. Audiences will get the chance to watch seven refreshing and fearless films, where actors this time play unexpected roles.

Director Giancarlo Abrahan

At the 2014 Cinemalaya Film Festival, Giancarlo Abrahan’s Dagitab presented Eula Valdez as a creative writing professor whose marriage was put on the verge of failure after a controversy. Although the film burns slowly, it instantly became a personal favorite. In Paki, Abrahan is back with another stunner. The film focuses on Alejandra’s (Dexter Doria) journey towards acquiring her children’s consent to annul her 50-year marriage. It sounds like there’s a need for heavy drama to make the film work but based on the trailer alone, Abrahan is able to tackle the subject with a hint of quirk.

Si Chedeng at Si Apple
Directors Fatrick Tabada and Rae Red

A few seconds into the trailer of Si Chedeng at Si Apple, I found myself smiling and eventually laughing. Who wouldn’t laugh at this line: “Matandang tibong amoy mothballs kasi kalalabas pa lang sa closet?” No surprises there after realizing that the Patay na si Hesus writers are behind this film. It follows the adventures of best friends 66-year-old Chedeng (Gloria Diaz) who came out of the closet after the death of her husband, and 63-year-old Apple (Elizabeth Oropesa), who beheaded her abusive husband and stored the severed head in a Louis Vuitton bag, as they set out to find Chedeng’s ex-girlfriend, Lydia. Imagine Thelma and Louise but funnier.

Director Kip Oebanda

If Halloween didn’t give you the chills, Nay will send you some. In this film, Luisa (Sylvia Sanchez), a nanny, turns the rich, sheltered Martin (Enchong Dee) into an aswang. She teaches him to prey on the poor and weak citizens for food. The film veers away from the usual rural setting of aswang movies and brings the creatures in overpopulated Manila. The film also features last year’s Cinema One Originals Best Supporting Actor Jameson Blake. Speaking of aswangs in the metro, when are we going to see the queer manananggal of Ricky Lee’s novel Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata in film?

Nervous Translations
Director Shireen Seno

While this year’s lineup already has two films on elderlies, Cinema One Originals also offers a heartfelt and cutesy film about children in the form of Nervous Translations. The film follows shy eight-year-old Yael (Jana Agoncillo) in her private world—until she finds a magical pen capable of translating the thoughts and feelings of nervous people.

Changing Partners
Director Dan Villegas

It’s not new to see film adaptations of musicals. There’s Les Miserables and West Side Story, but the idea is relatively new in the Philippines. Changing Partners is based on Vincent De Jesus’ musical play of the same title. The film tackles the relationship of Alex (Agot Isidro) and Cris (Sandino Martin) whose age gap and differences are taking its toll on their relationship. The film is also an examination of gender and relationship.

Throwback Today
Director Joseph Teoxon

Humans are obsessed with the idea of time travel. In Throwback Today, Primo (Carlo Aquino) looks back to his past. However, a technical glitch of gives him a chance to revisit his lovers and even rewrite his life.

Historiographika Errata
Director Richard Somes

Historiographika Errata is a historical film of some sort. It’s a satirical reimagination of history. Here, we find Joem Bascon as Jose Rizal, Alex Medina as a prodigy of Macario Sacay, and Nathalie Hart as a comfort woman during the Japanese occupation. It’s fiction, but you can think of it uncovering history swept under the rug.

Cinema One Originals will be screened at TriNoma Mall, Glorietta, Gateway, Cinema ’76, Cinematheque Centre Manila, University of the Philippines Cine Adarna, and Power Plant Mall. Check the image below for the full schedule.

Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN

Header image courtesy of Si Chedeng at Si Apple Facebook page

Read more:
Five books from Petersen Vargas’ bookshelf
Corruption returns to Metro Manila Film Festival, according to Citizen Jake director
Can Mikhail Red’s Birdshot be the first Oscar nominee from the Philippines?
Why do local films flop?

TAGS: Call Me By Your Name Changing Partners Cinema One Originals Film Historiographika Errata movie Nay Nervous Translations Paki Si Chedeng at si Apple Throwback Today