10 Must-See Critically Acclaimed Pinoy Movies of 2015

Heneral Luna isn't alone!


(SPOT.ph) Just when you were about to lose all hope, along comes Heneral Luna that suddenly revives your faith in Philippine cinema. (Fun fact: The movie is officially our entry to the 2016 Oscars!) Director Jerrold Tarog's historical biopic isn't alone. You'd be pleased to know that the Pinoy movie landscape isn't just mistress movies and unending fantasy sequels-slash-franchises.


Take these 10 recent Filipino films, for instance. They may not have been box-office gold, but they've garnered plenty of local and international recognition. Think of it as proof that our filmmakers can and will make great movies again.


This list focuses on internationally acclaimed movies released commercially or internationally in 2015.


Also read:
10 Classic MMFF Movies to Look Back On Before MMFF 2014
Top 10 Classic Filipino Films You Can Watch at Home
Around the Philippines in 10 Movies




Director: Brillante Mendoza

Release date: September 2015 (commercial release)


Brillante Mendoza's gritty ensemble drama revolves around the intersecting lives of Typhoon Yolanda survivors, including Babeth (Nora Aunor), Renato (Lou Veloso), and Larry (Julio Diaz). Despite vividly portraying the aftermath of the storm, the film largely focuses on the emotional devastation upon the survivors. (Read our movie review for Taklub.)


International credits: Screened at the Un Certain Regard section of the 68th Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Ecumenical Jury Prize-Special Mention. Other screenings include the Gijon Film Festival in Spain and the upcoming British Film Institute's London Film Festival.



Anino sa Likod ng Buwan

Director: Jun Robles Lana

Release date: July 2015 (international premiere)



The film follows the tale of a married couple and their complicated friendship with a soldier during the '90s. The entire movie documents the harrowing events that all take place in one night, and unfolds in a single, uninterrupted sequence. It stars LJ Reyes, Anthony Falcon, and Luis Alandy.


International credits: First screened at the 50th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Four wins at the 13th Pacific Meridian Film Festival in Russia, including Best Actress, Best Director, and International Critics Prize.



Kid Kulafu

Director: Paul Soriano

Release date: April 2015 (commercial release)


Before he was widely known as Pacman, Emmanuel Pacquiao was just a young boy trying to survive. When he discovers his natural talent for boxing, he goes on an intense journey from the amateur circuits to the big city. The biographical drama stars Buboy Villar as the young Manny, alongside Alessandra de Rossi, Alex Medina, and Cesar Montano.

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International credits: Nominated at the 5th Guam International Film Festival (Achievement in Acting for Buboy Villar). Screened at the recent Seattle Film Festival under Asian Crossroads and Contemporary World Cinema.



That Thing Called Tadhana

Director: Antoinette Jadaone

Release date: February 2015 (commercial release)


The movie that kickstarted the hugot craze also earned international recognition. Angelica Panganiban plays Mace, a heartbroken girl who meets Anthony (JM de Guzman) at the airport. The two form a friendship and set off on an impromptu adventure.


International credits: Nominated at the 5th Guam International Film Festival (Best Narrative Feature and Achievement in Acting for Angelica Panganiban). Screened at 19th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, 2015 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, among others.





Director: Lawrence Fajardo

Release date: March 2015 (Sinag Maynila Film Festival premiere)


The drama was one of several entries in this year's Sinag Maynila Film Festival, where it swept all the major awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress. Imbisibol stars Allen Dizon, Ces Quesada, and JM de Guzman as undocumented Filipino workers trying to support themselves as they evade authorities in Japan.


International credits: Screened at the 40th Toronto International Film Festival under the Contemporary World Cinema category



Mula Sa Kung Ano Ang Noon

Director: Lav Diaz

Release date: August 2015 (Philippine screening)


Lav Diaz's five-hour epic recounts the mysterious events that befall a small and remote village during the era of Ferdinand Marcos. The film won a handful of trophies from the 2015 Gawad Urian Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.


International credits: Won the Junior Jury Award, Don Quixote Award, FIPRESCI Prize, Swiss Critics Boccalino Award (Best Actress for Hazel Orencio), and the prestigious Golden Leopard (Best Film) at the 66th Locarno International Film Festival. Won Best Foreign Feature Film at Sao Paolo International Film Festival.



Above the Clouds

Director: Pepe Diokno

Release date: August 2015 (Cinemalaya premiere)


Written and directed by Pepe Diokno, the family drama revolves around the orphaned Andy (Ruru Madrid), who goes on a hiking trip with his estranged grandfather (Pepe Smith). Together, they embark on an emotional journey as they come to terms with their loss.


International credits: Nominated at the 25th Singapore International Film Festival (Best Asian Feature Film). Screened at the 27th Tokyo International Film Festival and the 65th Berlin International Film Festival.





Director: Perci M. Intalan

Release date: August 2015 (Cinemalaya premiere)


Technically, this psychological thriller debuted in September last year, but the film was also screened during this year's Cinemalaya Film Festival. Mara (Nora Aunor) is diagnosed with dementia and is brought home to their hometown in Batanes in the hopes of jogging her memory. But something is amiss; instead of just recalling familiar names and places, she starts having visions no one else sees.


International credits: Two wins (Best Foreign Language Feature Film and Best Lead Actress in a Foreign Language Film), and three nominations (Best Film, Best Director of a Foreign Language Film, and Best Original Screenplay) at the 3rd St. Tropez International Film Festival. Nominated at the 6th Soho International Film Festival (Best Performance for Nora Aunor).




Director: Remton Siega Zuasola

Release date: March 2015 (Sinag Maynila Film Festival premiere)


A young father is torn between solving a crime and committing another when his only son is kidnapped and the criminals demand him to kidnap another child in exchange. The film, which was reportedly shot in a single take, stars Dionne Monsanto, Mon Confiado, and Matt Daclan.


International credits: Screened at the 63rd San Sebastian International Film Festival in Spain



Honor Thy Father

Director: Erik Matti

Release date: September 2015 (TIFF premiere)


Erik Matti's suspenseful Honor Thy Father may have only been shortlisted for this year's MMFF, but the film recently had its world premiere in the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival. The film stars John Lloyd Cruz and Meryll Soriano as a married couple in financial ruin, caught in a complicated Ponzi scheme.



International credits: Screened at the 40th Toronto International Film Festival under the Contemporary World Cinema section


Also read:
10 Classic MMFF Movies to Look Back On Before MMFF 2014
Top 10 Classic Filipino Films You Can Watch at Home
Around the Philippines in 10 Movies

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