All 8 Short Films From QCinema 2017, Reviewed
This year’s Q.C. Shorts is an interesting edition, complete with punkish time-traveling stories, transporting mood pieces, and heaps more.
I’ve watched all eight short films in competition this week. My thoughts on each follow.
Anya Ti’ Naganmo? (What Is Your Name?)
Familiar and straightforward stories like the one told in Anya Ti’ Naganmo? (What Is Your Name?) can be lazily appraised as pedestrian. However, Ice Idanan’s film, simple as it maybe, is strong and deeply felt. The film runs briskly, following a young girl who wanders and gets lost in a public cemetery during Undas. By film’s end, characters find their way home, each helped by one another—a message that’s not lost in the film.
We know from the onset that Keith Deligero’s Babylon is going to be quite the ride. It feels like the smaller brother to Lily—stylish, irreverent, and just as “gago”. Two girls travel through time to assassinate a barangay dictator. Doubtless a simple premise, but the follow-through is much, much crazier. There’s a distinctly fascinating style to Deligero’s films that I’ve always enjoyed, from the off-the-wall Stand By Me-like adventure in Iskalawags to the sultry vampire romance in Lily. Babylon doesn’t stray too far from a style that’s become distinctly the filmmaker’s. Expect to get a whiplash. Or two.
Gikan Sa Ngitngit Nga Kinailadman (From The Dark Depths)
I’ve left Sari Dalena’s Gikan Sa Ngitngit Nga Kinailadman (From The Dark Depths) plagued with unanswered questions. The film requires multiple viewings in order to fully comprehend the gravity of its message. But to get a grasp of the film’s longing, sorrow, and disillusionment, you only need to submit to the film once, as it puts you adrift in its dream-like vignettes of a slowly fading revolution and immaculate underwater cinematography of a woman sinking deeper and deeper.
Kun ‘Di Man
Phyllis Grande’s Kun ‘Di Man is tender and affecting. It’s a love story between two old blind musicians who sing for game at LRT stations. The conflict of the short is a small but trying obstacle the two goes through before they can find each other. And there lies the film’s beauty, which is that love makes those who can’t see find someone, make music, and make unbreakable shapes.
In Mike Esteves’ Link, a writer is confronted by a stranger who insists is a character from her book. Their exchanges are intimate, as writers would be with characters birthed from their own imagination. But perhaps a bit too intimate, too, in that details start to smudge the film’s otherwise sound ideas about artistic and humanly creation. I like the overall idea of this film, but am a bit irked by its execution.
Like in his rotoscope-animation film Manang Biring, style plays a big part in the substance of Carl Joseph Papa’s Love Bites. A sprightly, infinitely charming stop-motion comedy, the short is essentially a bar joke expanded to fit the size of a story. The title itself is in on the joke, as an old man becomes smitten by the old lady at the end of the bar. By film’s end, the old man, Sapporo beer on one hand, “adidas” on the other, would be bitten. By her. With her. For her.
A decidedly rugged short about cybercrime, Epoy Deyto’s Pixel Paranoia follows a deep-web pornographic ripper who upon receiving a mysterious snuff film becomes increasingly distraught, afraid that someone is watching him all the time. Deyto has tremendous fun with the short, making it a thoroughly enjoyable watch. Anything goes, be it a deliciously grindhouse-slash-b-horror-esque surgery snuff or a drone-like black-and-white footage that—creepily—seems to have found a life of its own.
Si Astri Maka Si Tambulah
Xeph Suarez’ Si Astri Maka Si Tambulah follows Astri, a Sama Badjao transwoman shackled by prejudice and a heteronormative tradition. The drama center to the film lies with her lover, Tambulah, who helps her make up the dowry money for her wedding to a woman she barely even knows. Aided by strong performances and Suarez’ deft touches, the short delivers an emotionally charged drama about an affair that ends in a tragic but noble resolution—a hopeful unshackling.