About last week, part one.

I had a chance to do a number of interesting things last week. Among these was view a number of post-rock bands, which is a genre I am exploring as an extension, or an offshoot, if you will, of a past interest in progressive music.

Last Tuesday, though, I was invited to revisit a film I have spoken about a lot on these pages. As its theatrical release draws near this Wednesday, I will share a bit about what happened last Tuesday afternoon.

Unlike the last time the cast and crew went to the press, which was a classic press conference with ubiquitous showbiz reporters sight, the event was a press junket in which director Marie Jamora, co-writer Ramon de Veyra, and most of the cast (Mercedes Cabral was in Venice, I understand) were in attendance, as were award-winning composers Mikey Amistoso, Diego Mapa, and Jazz Nicolas. Nicolas left early for a recording session with his band, the Itchyworms.

Ang Nawawala’s director and co-writer Marie Jamora answers questions from the media as Felix Roco looks on. Photo by Ren Aguila

The press forum, moderated by Cai Subijano of the Philippine Star‘s Y Style section (and, I understand, someone with a minor role in this film), had a speed-dating feel, with two or three of the cast and crew going around the tables for fifteen minutes at a time. The first interviewees included director Marie Jamora, who graciously addressed Roland Tolentino’s critique with a response that was reminiscent of Vinny Tagle’s essay in response for We Talk About Movies–a reminder that while socially conscious films were important, these should not be the only stories Filipino cinema should tell.

However, her answer came just after a more interesting quote. One writer asked about her influences, a critique that formed part of the discussion around Tolentino’s essay. Her response? “I’m not insulted when people compare me to one of my heroes. I’m just making a film and I grew up with their stuff.” In fact, what has happened, she confesses, is quite the opposite–film students come to her and say, “You made the movie I should have made!” (And that’s turning the tables.)

And now, another appreciation:

Long before we had the interview, I was aware that people were seriously thinking along the lines Jamora envisioned. Sometime before Ang Nawawala came out, I spoke with a friend about her acquaintance who just finished film school and felt that a film had to be made about the upper-middle class. In a sense, the time has indeed come for these stories to be told, again. (I was told that it happened before, but the early examples, like much of Philippine cinema, are not available for convenient viewing.)

But the context in which we are telling these stories has changed, with the hegemony of the “new Left” (cue the last part of the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again“) in the critical scene encouraging and privileging a certain kind of cinema. What has also changed is the rise of a strong studio system that at once reminds me of the pre-Martial Law era studios and yet mirrors more the ratings war between the networks that own the current studios.

In any case, these stories do need to get out. Perhaps it is because the world might need to hear them too. Perhaps because these are stories being told in other parts of the world. Perhaps because, like me, there are others who want to hear stories that resonate more with their life-worlds. We are indeed aware of what is going on in the wider world and yet we know that the human transcends the categories into which we happily sort ourselves.


Next time, I will be revisiting my music interviews, both from before the film was released and after. It should be out on Tuesday.

And for more information about where Ang Nawawala will be showing, please check out this post.

Finally, as it is Sunday night, time for one of my candidates for Song of the Year 2012.


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