Filipino Cinema: New Directions/New Auteurs

The Gene Siskel Film Center at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago will be featuring a month-long series of films from the Philippines throughout September. 

From the Gene Siskel Film Center:

Filipino Cinema:
New Directions/New Auteurs



2013, Lav Diaz, Philippines, 250 min.
With Sid Lucero, Angeli Bayana

“An extraordinary achievement,

a truly staggering, even overwhelming
film-going experience…
its thematic breadth is universal.”
–Calum Marsh, Village Voice
“Exhilarating…a perfect gateway into the director’s work.”
–Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, A.V.

This powerfully slow-burning riff on Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” was a critical triumph at Cannes, putting an international spotlight on director Diaz’s epic work. An indolent blowhard of a law-school dropout (Lucero) murders a shrewish neighborhood moneylender, and the blame falls on a poor but honest family man. Over a luxuriously paced and utterly essential span of cinematic time, Diaz follows the fate of both men, one of them in a hell of his own making, the other staying the course in the hope of redemption. History, politics, philosophy, and ethics blend with ever-expanding moral dimensions in a setting of seascapes and haunting cityscapes. In Tagalog and English with English subtitles. DCP digital widescreen. (BS)


If Only

2013, Jerrold Tarog, Philippines, 100 min.
With Lovi Poe, Paulo Avelino
“Well-written discreetly played…
both moving and finally very mature in
its emotional make-up.”
–Derek Elley, Film Business Asia
IF ONLY takes place amid the chaotic last-minute preparations for an upscale family wedding, but director Tarog has a demystification of love rather than romance on his mind. To the astonishment of her female kin, bride-to-be Andrea appears glum and underwhelmed by her imminent vows with the ultimate catch, a wealthy rising-star politician. The arrival of a strangely inept wedding photographer becomes the catalyst for revelations about her mysterious year spent in Bangkok and the love of her life, who may not be the groom. In Tagalog with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)


The Bit Player

2013, Jeffrey Jeturian, Philippines, 111 min.
With Vilma Santos, Vincent De Jesus
“Wise and witty…constant chuckles
and a fair supply of big belly laughs.”
–Richard Kuipers, Variety
Behind the scenes on the soap opera “You Were Mine First,” long-suffering middle-aged extra Loida (veteran mega-star Santos)
keeps a smile on her face while eternally striving to rise to the status of a bit player with lines. This alternately comic and poignant spoof on the indignities of the film business for those on the bottom rung is rife with funny pratfalls and cleverly couched social commentary. Santos turns on the heart-melting charm as her character’s sunny nature masks the true grit of a single mom trying to make a living. In Tagalog with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)

Thy Womb

2012, Brillante Mendoza, Philippines, 100 min.
With Nora Aunor, Bembol Roco
“Postcard-worthy landscapes and
all-consuming spirituality…compelling
and revelatory.”
–Carlos Aguilar,
In this tale set in the sea-and-sky milieu of an island Muslim culture, an emphasis on the intricate and colorful rituals of courtship and marriage by critically acclaimed director Mendoza (KINATAY) has a profoundly bittersweet edge. The happiness of a long-married couple is marred by the ironic inability of Shaleha (Philippine superstar Aunor in a masterful performance), the local midwife, to give her devoted husband a child. She devises a selfless plan to remedy the situation, unaware of the heartbreak in store. Winner of three Venice Film Festival awards, including Best Actress for Aunor. In Tagalog with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)


2012, Erik Matti, Philippines, 85 min.
With Yam Concepcion, John James Uy
“Goes deep into its characters…
the film earns its adult designation.”
—Philbert Ortiz Dy,
The title comes from a quadrille-like dance, which aptly fits this tense, steamy drama of a cheating husband who artfully juggles life with a needy wife and elaborate courtship of an eager lover. Riki, a hunky former reality-show star reduced to modeling for a shopping network, also courts danger, living one step ahead of a loan shark as he leads on new girl Sarah with seeming promises of marriage and calms his wife with lies. Director Matti lets the film’s initial romantic conventions slide into darkness and erotic obsession, with graphic scenes of seduction and coupling made all the more realistic by the palpable chemistry among the three lead actors. In Tagalog and English with English subtitles. DCP digital. (BS)

Devices used that made the film easier to do: top portable AC

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