It was yet another thrilling and exciting week in Manila when the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and other partner theaters presented Cinemalaya's set of new-breed, full-lengths and shorts. Aptly called Cinesthesia, Cinemalaya again lets its viewers in on a mind numbing experience, full of praise-worthy films that are riveting and thought-provoking which made me tightly hold on to my seat and made me leave the theater simultaneously enlightened and dumbfounded. I tell you that each time was an overwhelming experience for me as my emotions were heightened to the extremes.
I was able to watch 3 out of the gazillion movies that were running that week. I really tried hard to make time for Cinemalaya this time around as I knew that it has been some years now that I was not able to see its offerings. I think I prioritized well and accordingly as each experience had truly been wonderful and a time well-spent. I am still being haunted by the movies I have seen. Next year, I will make it a point to treat myself to an unlimited Festival Pass for me to feel obligated to make the most out of it!
Sana Dati was a gem. A story about loving and moving on, this movie made me feel for but, at the same time, abhor the protagonist. Yes, strong words for a powerful movie. The movie allowed us to dissect the inner working of Andrea's (the protagonist) mind but of course, those who watched the movie knew well that she was a hard nut to crack as the character was unpredictable and was innately a flight risk. Heavily fickle-minded, she was still perplexed and in-doubt if she should marry the man that she was about to marry that day; a man that truly loves her but was not the one whom she looked forward to spend her life with. Set on her wedding day, the ghosts of her past suddenly came back crawling, louder than ever, in the persona of her own videographer. Nonetheless, the big question here was, did this make matters worse or did this serve as her key to forget the past? As the movie went on, stories unfolded and memories resurfaced, bit by bit had it became clear to the viewers that her being nonchalant and indifferent were due to a bigger-than-life reason, a reason that almost all, if not all, who have and will come to love, will inevitably experience later in life: loss. The teal flats gave color to the film. It was a vital object in the film as it symbolized the onset of a second chance for Andrea to love and be loved.
Each one of us has an ultimate dream that greatly differs with one another depending on the beliefs and priorities of a person. Because of the seemingly glamorous life that is openly being shared by the same people who are working in the show business, many of us could not help but dream then on becoming like them. Seen as an easy-money career, we could not care less how long the process may take and how hard can it be before we get there, as some of us will go through the hole of a needle if that is what it entails for us to be popular, however small the part may be. Ekstra vividly captured a day in the life of an extra in a TV Show. Hilarious but at the same time heartbreaking, Ekstra gave us a glimpse of the reasons and sacrifices that an extra undergoes to either fulfill their dream of becoming a "star", land a scene with their idols, have a 30-second claim to fame or just make ends meet. Gut-wrenching, this movie shows in full detail how extras are being belittled amidst their inherent importance. By the way, Ekstra is set to open this August 14 in theaters nationwide.
Transit was my ultimate favorite. Set in Israel, a new law had been passed by their government that children of Filipino workers, below 5 years of age, should be deported. Living a life full of fear, Filipino children were forbade by their parents to play outside or to stay after dark to eliminate grounds of being deported. Filipino children who reside there, even those who are technically Israeli since they are born in Israel, never knew anything about freedom such as playing like normal children on the streets and going out with their set of friends. They are only taught to stay under the radar and wear head coverings. Transit was equally divided to five life-stories: each story relays the perspective of each protagonist, one of a father, one of a mother, one of a 20-something woman, one of a teenage girl and one of a young boy. This was the movie that punched close to my heart because of its rawness and closeness to reality. The movie made me appreciate the decisions of a person and the reasons behind his/her decisions. It made me realize that our decisions have bases and each bases are mostly mixed products of our experiences, rationality, compassion, beliefs, priorities, fears, intuition and innate goodness. We mostly decide for the common good and we, most of the time, do a certain thing and traverse a certain path out of love (our own definition of love). If only we could just open our hearts and listen closely to those people around us, may be we would be able to understand them better and maybe, just maybe, this world we are living in would be a better world than what we make it to be.