Vamos a makibaka

What I'd like to see: quality Filipino films playing in packed theaters–actually, the scene at the screening of Raya Martin's Independencia at the French Filmfest last week.

Last week was good for Filipino film but this week there's nothing but Hannah Montana this and The Taking of Pelham 123 that in our local cinemas. Sigh. Here's what I would like to see: quality Filipino films playing in packed theaters. Actually, that was the scene at the screening of Raya Martin's new work Independencia at the French Film Festival last week. Cinema 3 of Shangri-la was brimming with lots of young people (all very hipster and film student-y), a handful of folks from the foreign community, the film cognoscenti, and several independent film makers who all came out to show support. I was stuffed into a seat by a harassed usherette, stuck in between two entertainment writers. I can't complain really because they were adding plastic chairs at the last minute to accommodate the important people waiting outside for their seats. Raya Martin was there, of course, along with his producer (the indefatigable Arleen Cuevas) and some members of the cast. Alessandra de Rossi swept in and hugged her director, while adorable little Mika Aguilos sat with his family one row in front of me. During his opening remarks, Raya Martin said that this is a good time for Filipino film, and I think he's absolutely right. The French also seem to think so and literally put their money on Raya Martin: they gave him a seven million peso grant to shoot Independencia. (French-Filipino mash-ups are always fabulous, umm for example: Jewelmer, Solenn Heusaff, Le Spa at the Sofitel, and now Independencia.) The black and white film was shot entirely in a studio, recreating a kubo-in-the-jungle setting in perfect turn-of-the century detail. Set during the American occupation, Independencia is the story of a young man (Sid Lucero) and his mother (Tetchie Agbayani) who flee town and hide in the jungle where they find a mysterious young girl (Alessandra de Rossi). I thought it was amazing. Raya Martin certainly deserved his Cannes standing ovation. He's twenty-five for goodness sake. (And cute in the style of an awkwardly charming Albert Elbaz.) Seriously, though, after Independencia I was proud of Filipino talent, I was happy to see such a full house, and I was inspired to keep hoping for the best for Pinoy movies. But does anybody really care? I mean, when was the last time you went to watch a Filipino movie in an actual movie theater? Ooh, here you go. I just heard that My Fake American Accent which was at last year's Cinemalaya is playing at June 17-23, 2009 at the Robinson's Galleria Indie Sine. Screening time starts at 3pm till last full show. Do your part. To read Ria's previous blog posts, click here. To read other blogs, click here

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