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An Indie Film in the Indie Film Universe

September 16, 2012

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I am not an expert on films, more so on the indie kinds. I barely get to watch local films or catch the screening of alternative films. So what can I say about this Sigfreid Barros-Sanchez film that won this year’s  first Sineng Pambansa (National Film) Festival? For one, it’s long.  It took me about two hours (or more). It’s not for people who have weak attention span (or kidneys for that matter). It’s not perfect but it drives home a point. Make that, some points.

So was it really Ronnie Lazaro in the movie? Yes, that’s for sure. He was even present during the screening held recently at the SM Mall of Asia. Was it about him? Yes and no. Yes, because it’s him portraying himself and no, because it’s not about him. It’s about the film industry. It’s about making one’s own film in a world where either foreign or mainstream films always gets the upper hand.

Now there was my problem. A few scenes after the opening credits and you already get the plot—this bunch of guys wanted to produce a film from scratch. Ang Babae sa Septic Tank came to mind. I told you, I haven’t been watching a lot of films to warrant a very good comparison. Both movies wanted a specific actor to be the star of their films (Eugene Domingo and Lazaro, respectively). The difference was that in this movie though, was that the guys who wanted to do the indie film were really neophytes struggling to survive even their everyday lives (so just imagine how they could manage making a movie).

Noni Buencamino and the group of friends resorted to taking Ronnie Lazaro against his will when the latter turned them down (because according to him, he has his hands full of commitments. He was the most sought after actor to play indie roles). The story begins and so does, err,  the…waiting.

I was trying to entertain myself as Hesus (Raul Morit) was telling their story’s plot to Ronnie but it was hard. I was distracted by Hesus’ voice. As if he was reading his script and reading it poorly. Was it the intention of the film?

I like it that the film brought out the issue on injecting religion practices in Pinoy films. Case in point is the sahog of the pancit Lazaro must bring home to his ailing mother. Hesus’ version is a pansit with pork, much to the dismay of the Muslim character. Petty as it may seem, this only reflected the film maker’s dilemma on the subject of religion in movies.

There was a point in the film where I wanted to get up and leave. The slow phasing was really killing me. When will they finish the film? Will they be able to finish the film? What will happen to Joel Torre who, next to Lazaro, was considered the most sought after actor for indie films? Will he go to jail after being caught as the main suspect for kidnapping Lazaro? Will his Inasal business go bankrupt if that happens?  At least these questions made me remain in my seat.

The best (and redeeming part) of the film was the part where Lazaro willingly led the group in the pursuit of film making (after his heart-to-heart talk with the veteran tomador among the group) using what he called ‘their own stories.’ The group already threw the white towel and accepted the fact that they couldn’t do any indie film with their lack of experience, equipment and finances. But Lazaro cheered them on, making them realize that more than the technical and financial aspects, foremost in film making is the story you want your audience to know.

So how do you make a movie? Better yet, how do you make a Filipino movie for the world?

Just tell your story.

These stories need not to be as flamboyant as what we see in Hollywood, in fact, we don’t need to copy from other countries. Right here at home there are a lot of stories we can develop into films. One must just learn to believe that it is possible to tell the story. And even if you are far away, you can still tell your story. As Lazaro puts it, “Maaari nating punuin ng kwentong Pilipino ang buong sulok ng mundo dahil bawat sulok ng mundo ay may Pilipino (We can fill every corner of the world with our stories because in every corner of the world is a Filipino).”

It’s not the best indie film I’ve seen so far, but then again, I am not an expert on films.

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