Ria Limjap: The Best and Brightest of Philippine Cinema in AmBisyon 2010

Gather 20 top film makers, give them a shoestring budget and air their masterpieces on TV = amazing results, says our Spot.ph blogger.

I love mellow Sunday afternoons, especially when there's something good on television. Last Sunday was a rare treat: I had the TV all to myself and the two-hour AmBisyon 2010 special was on. I'm glad I caught it. Very interesting stuff. The concept of AmBisyon 2010 (by Paolo Villaluna and Emmanuel de la Cruz) is to get 20 filmmakers–14 of them old hands, and six new grant winners–and give them a list of 10 issues: democracy, education, economy, population, poverty, corruption, health, security, human rights/justice, and environment. The directors were given a shoestring budget to work with, but the results are, so far, amazing.

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Their output reminds me that there are people out there who are not only immensely talented and creative, but also fully conscious of the change our nation needs. The genius of AmBisyon 2010 is that it gathers the best and the brightest of Philippine cinema and gives their work a platform that reaches a wider audience: television. These film makers are able to talk about their work within a larger context. How many people saw Brilliante Mendoza's award-winning film Kinatay? On AmBisyon 2010 anyone with cable TV and free time on a Sunday afternoon can watch his ironic rap music video called Sa Pilipinas Ayos Ka, filled with images of beautifully shot poverty. (If you like Brilliante Mendoza's work, that is.)

Then there's also Jon Red's PSG (Pandesal, Sardinas, at Gatas), a conversation between a Presidential Security Guard and the chef of Malacañang Palace.


Or Lupang Hinirang, Ditsi Carolino's documentary about the 1,700 kilometer march of the Sumilao farmers, which is a powerful and moving piece.

Or the lovely and stylized Wasteland, an animated story by Ellen Ramos of a boy who wants to go to school.

I can't wait to see the rest of the stuff by other film makers such as Raymond Red, Paolo Villaluna, and the list goes on…

But I'm missing something here. Where's the synergy?

I would love to see the short films from AmBisyon 2010 screened right before the big Star Cinema features. For instance, what about showing Erik Matti's campy and hilarious take on overpopulation and maybe Kiri Dalena's eerie and poignant video about the Maguindanao massacre right before the new Sam Milby-Anne Curtis rom com? The audience, who will surely turn out en masse to see Sam and Anne, will have no choice but to watch something intelligent, timely, and with a real message. I mean, why not? It's giving the work of independent filmmakers access to more people. And even if they are coming to see mindless and escapist entertainment, these short films might provoke a subtle reaction or spark a change in someone in the audience. It always starts at the level of the individual.

Also, I hope they air it on TFC.

AmBisyon 2010 will air on ANC as a five-episode special, directed and edited by Jason Tan. Starts on April 9, 2010, with four short films per episode.


P.S. Oh, and do try to catch the opening sequence of AmBisyon 2010 (music by Malek Lopez and Lourd de Veyra.) It's brill. Nickel bag of funk, anyone?

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