I was at Cinemalaya the last few days. My review of Ang Nawawala is still in preparation–having seen it again, I am prepared to call it a proper one. In the spirit of seeking improvement, of course, because all I can say now is that for a first-time film, it is indeed a milestone in terms of what it is trying to achieve. It deserves the widest possible audience.
1. Joel Shepard and I lucked out last Monday. Shepard, film curator of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, is very interested in Philippine cinema, and this is his third time here, I believe. However, why we lucked out was this. Nick Deocampo launched a retrospective of experimental film this week, and the first two films, apart from his short Let This Film be a Manifesto for a New Filipino Cinema, were not only good choices, but exceptional ones.
I did not know until Monday, for example, that Eric Torres, former curator of the Ateneo Art Gallery, wrote a documentary (directed by Bibsy Carballo, with cinematography by Romy Vitug) on Navotas in the late 1960s. Recuerdo of Two Sundays and Two Roads That Lead To The Sea is a very moving gem speaking of a place which once seemed idyllic and now, as at least one person told me, isn’t quite the same.
The real thrill was seeing Raymond Red’s newly-restored Ang Magpakailanman. Better yet, it was de-colorized from the original Super 8, so it is a black-and-white film that serves as a book-end to his entry this year, Kamera Obscura. It was brilliant. I cannot wait for him to release the DVD of some of his early work.
2. Speaking of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, I am going to defend Philbert Dy today. I have heard a recent comment by the girlfriend of the star of a recent film Dy did not like. Now I have known Dy since last year at least, when he hosted Joel, myself, and another friend at Cubao X for lunch. He is a very interesting person and I do disagree with some of his views on film. But I agree that he has the right to say what he said, and I am aware at least from where he is coming. More importantly, though, he and Joel made some good choices for the largest retrospective of recent Filipino cinema in the States so far. For promoting our film sector, both those working with and outside the current structures, Dy demands more respect than the bashing he is getting from writers who are mainly out to protect the interests of the “system.”
3. I end this with a pretty short note: I am going to do, instead of a review for The Animals, a series of reviews on that and two other films. I am going to have to catch up. Good luck to me.
Meanwhile, fans of Ang Nawawala and its music will be pleased to know that we will be back where it all started. On August 18, Mei Bastes confirmed that the film’s after-party will be at the Collective, where day one of filming was held. No matter what one has to say about the movie, you cannot fault Marie for the music. She is playing with her band, Boldstar, by the way.