SF’s New Filipino Cinema ’17 films mirror current PH realities
SAN FRANCISCO –Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) in August presents the sixth annual showcase of independent films from the Philippines with New Filipino Cinema 2017, co-curated by YBCA film/video curator Joel Shepard and Philbert Dy, a professional film critic based in the Philippines who has written for some of the country’s top newspapers and magazines.
New Filipino Cinema 2017 provides a snapshot of a huge range of artistic achievement. The series features a broad spectrum of topics, including transforming Filipina domestic workers into beauty queens with Sunday Beauty Queen, an eight-hour historical fantasy mourning the current state and a defiant cry of hope for the future in Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery), and a special in-person presentation about the war on drugs with photojournalist Raffy Lerma.
In the past year, “macho” president Rodrigo Duterte has been working to consolidate power, and reports of flagrant human rights abuses and strict social controls have skyrocketed. “Given this overwhelming reality, this sixth edition of New Filipino Cinema puts a special focus on films with social, historical, political, and human rights themes,” says co-curator Joel Shepard.
“This was not a simple task, as there are no Filipino full-length films that deal directly with the extrajudicial killings going on now. However, many of the films this year directly or indirectly explore the social and political circumstances that led to the current state of affairs.”
Co-curator Philbert Dy elaborates: “It can be difficult to talk about Filipino cinema nowadays. Faced with the very real horrors brought about by the current administration, it can seem irresponsible to get caught up in the comparatively abstract concerns of the state of our cinema. But our cinema has always proven to be fertile ground for dissent.”
Dy says further: “In the time of martial law, the likes of Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal sowed their outrage into their melodramas. Their stories of love and loss found potent context in the looming tyrannies of the Marcos era. And as the indelible specter of dictatorship continues to cast a shadow on the nation, filmmakers continue to tell stories that bring to light, in ways both overt and subtle, the injustices that Filipinos face every day.”
New Filipino Cinema 2017 runs August 17 through September 3, 2017, with a free opening reception on August 17 at 6:30pm in the Youth Arts Lounge at YBCA. All films are shown digitally, in their original languages with English subtitles.
SUNDAY BEAUTY QUEEN
By Baby Ruth Villarama
Thursday, August 17, 7:30pm & Sunday, August 27, 2pm Cost: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior,Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free Director and producer in person! Join us at 6:30pm for a free reception in the Youth Arts Lounge on the second floor. Beneath Hong Kong’s glittering facade, nearly two hundred thousand Filipinas are domestic workers living in relative anonymity. Living with their employers, they work 24 hours a day, six days a week, with only Sunday off. In a beauty pageant like no other, five women give themselves makeovers for a day and gleefully reclaim their dignity. The film documents the lives of these hardworking Filipinas as they escape once a week from their foreign employers, and take a break from a life far away from home. (2016, 94 min). For tickets and ticket packages, visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/sunday-beauty-queen
By Gutierrez Mangansakan II
Friday, August 18, 4pm & Saturday, August 26, 2pm Cost: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior, Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free In 1974, two years after the declaration of martial law in the Philippines, the Philippine army marched into the town of Malisbong, detained all the residents, and eventually killed around 1,500 of them. This documentary talks to the survivors of this little-known massacre, letting them put into simple words what they went through. Their narratives are presented without any adornment, putting the reality of their experiences into sharp, painful focus. Winner of Best Documentary, Cinema One Originals Festival. (2016, 77 min)
For tickets and ticket packages, visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/forbidden-memory
By Mario Cornejo
Friday, August 18, 7pm & Friday, August 25, 5:30pm; Cost: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior, Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free.
It is said that the production of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now brought surfing to the shores of Baler, where much of the film was shot. But this is just one of the many stories told about Baler, a place on the east coast of the country prone to myth and invention. Apocalypse Child explores the town’s relationship with its stories through the eyes of an outsider who has fallen in love with a surfing instructor said to have a (hint, hint) very famous father. In the ensuing chaos of emotions, the film reveals a people still bearing their colonial legacies, stuck riding the waves into the rocky shores of a traumatic past. (2016, 95 min)
For tickets and ticket packages, visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/apocalypse-child
By Erik Matti
Friday, August 18, 9pm & Thursday, August 31, 7:30pm; Cost: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior, Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free.
The director of the acclaimed films On the Job and Honor Thy Father offers this parable set in a monastery in 1947. A group of deacons are undergoing their final trial before ordination: a week isolated from the rest ofthe world, confronted by the demons that still haunt them. This horror movie builds itself around the kind of religious imagery familiar to anyone who’s been to the Philippines, subverting those aesthetics in service ofan exploration of how corruption clings to even the most repentant souls. (2016, 88 min)
For tickets and ticket packages, visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/seklusyon
By Jerrold Tarog
Saturday, August 19, 8pm & Thursday, August 24, 7:30pm; Cost: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior, Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free
Iza Calzado plays Jane Ciego, an actress looking to be taken seriously. She produces and stars in a film meant to propel her into the international festival scene, but she ends up getting severely injured. She recuperates in a house under the care of her useless husband and a weirdly anti-social nurse. This intricately structured tale (by the director of Heneral Luna) blurs the boundaries between dreams and reality, using genre elements to bring to life the monstrous nature of people in an image-obsessed society. (2017, 100 min)
For tickets and ticket packages, visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/bliss
INSIDE THE WAR ON DRUGS WITH PHOTOJOURNALIST RAFFY LERMA
Sunday, August 20, 1pm; Cost: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior, Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free
Raffy Lerma is a photojournalist based in Manila. For twelve years, Lerma worked as a staff photographer for the Philippine Daily Inquirer covering the daily news beat in Metro Manila. He has recently shifted into working independently to focus on his documentation of the government’s “war on drugs,” which he has covered since the beginning of the Duterte presidency. Lerma shot the photo that came to be known as “The Pieta,” which went viral; and he was featured in The 2017 New York Times documentary When a President Says, ‘I’ll Kill You.’ Lerma joins us in person to present his recent work, and discuss the situation on the ground.
For tickets and ticket packages, visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/inside-the-war-on-drugs
By Ralson G. Jover
Sunday, August 20, 3pm & Sunday, August 27, 7pm; Cost: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior, Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free
All over the Philippines you will find homeless street children. They are known as “batang hamog,” whichtranslates as “children of the dew.” With amazing performances by its young cast, Hamog’s unique blend of gritty drama and magical realism explores the lives of a group of these children. They may be thieves, but they have a greater moral code than the corrupt society in which they live. After a heist goes tragically wrong, their world is about to be turned upside down. (2015, 100 min)
For tickets and ticket packages, visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/hamog
By Keith Deligero
Sunday, August 20, 5pm & Friday, September 1, 5:30pm; Cost: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior, Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free
Lily takes it cue from a popular urban legend in Cebu about a shape-shifting witch that supposedly roams the streets at night. The film imagines a backstory for this witch, casting her as a woman betrayed by the man she loves, left to die while he flees for a better life in Manila. This story gets filtered through an avant-garde lens that unravels the various imbalances in Filipino society, whether it be between man and woman, rich and poor, Christian and not.
Lilyis a strange, haunting film that speaks with a authentic, confident voice. (2016, 110min)
For tickets and ticket packages, visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/lily
By Brillante Mendoza
Friday August 25, 7:30pm; Cost: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior, Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free
An ordinary family tries to make ends meet by selling small amounts of “ice” (crystal meth). They get set up by a drug user, and the parents are arrested. Thus begins a harrowing downward spiral, as their children race to find the money to pay off the corrupt police. The film unfolds in what feels like real time, in a gritty social realist style. Lead actress Jaclyn Jose gives the performance of a lifetime, and was awarded the Best Actres award at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Brillante Mendoza, the most internationally acclaimed Filipino filmmaker, directed President Duterte’s inaugural State of the Nation address. (2016, 110 min)
For tickets and ticket packages, visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/marosa
PATAY NA SI HESUS (JESUS IS DEAD)
By Victor Villanueva
Saturday, August 26, 4pm; Cost: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior, Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free
Jaclyn Jose stars as a mother taking her children on a road trip from Cebu to Dumaguete to attend the funeral of their father, who they barely knew. This sharp, at times wacky road comedy takes odd turns through the personal lives of its characters, all of whom fall outside the bounds of the traditional portrait of the god-fearing Filipino family. Branded with a uniquely Bisaya sense of humor, the movie has an off-kilter comedic rhythm that is unlike anything else out there. (2016, 90 min)
For tickets and ticket packages, visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/patay-na-si-hesus
MERCURY IS MINE
By Jason Paul Laxamana
Saturday August 26, 7pm & Friday, September 1, 7:30pm; Cost: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior, Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free
The superb comic actress Pokwang stars as a grouchy cook who is about to close down her restaurant at the foot of Mt. Arayat, due to lack of customers. When a mysterious American teenager named Mercury appears out of nowhere and begs for work, a strange relationship develops. Mercury is Mine is a touching, offbeat and often funny drama, as well as a not-so-veiled commentary on American colonialism. (2016, 97 min)
For tickets and ticket packages, visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/mercury-is-mine
PAGDATING SA DULO (AT THE TOP) – THE RESTORED VERSION
By Ishmael Bernal
Sunday, August 27, 4pm; Cost: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior, Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free
Pagdating sa Dulo (At the Top) was the debut commercial feature of Ishmael Bernal (1938 – 1996), considered one of the greatest filmmakers the Philippines has ever produced. Rita Gomez plays a stripper fed up with her lot in life. Luckily, or so it seems at first, she is discovered by a movie director (Eddie Garcia) and put on the path of becoming a star. Bernal always had a rebellious, subversive streak that would add fascinating nuance to his films. Within the context of this exploration of the toxicity of show business, Bernal reveals the greater tyrannies of a society on the verge of Martial Law. (1971, 117 min)
For tickets and ticket packages, visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/pagdating-sa-dulo
HELE SA HIWAGANG HAPIS (A LULLABY TO THE SORROWFUL MYSTERY)
By Lav Diaz
Saturday, September 2 & Sunday, September 3, 12pm; Cost: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior, Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free
“…an ambitious statement by one of contemporary cinema’s authentic radicals.” –Jonathan Romney, ScreenInternational
“…a gorgeous film that traces the outlines of the Philippine character, flaws and virtues and all, from the ferment of its end-of-the-century rebellion through its four hundred years of colonial past down to its ancient pagan roots…The film was made for us Filipinos, to fill our hunger for poetry and narrative and magic, to give us back a sense of our storied past, our mythical and historical dead.” –Noel Vera,
Critic after Dark: A Review of Philippine Cinema Master filmmaker Lav Diaz turns his eye on revolutionary times with a movie that seamlessly blends real history with some of the country’s seminal tales and legends. Simoun and Isagani (Piolo Pascual and John Lloyd Cruz), characters from national hero Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo, escape into the wilderness following the events of the novel. Meanwhile, Gregoria de Jesus (Hazel Orencio), wife of revolutionary leader Andres Bonifacio, goes in search of her husband’s corpse, only to be waylaid by mischievous forest creatures. In this nexus of reality and fiction emerges a mournful wail for the state of our sad Republic, and a defiant cry of hope for future generations of Filipinos. Presented with a one-hour intermission at 4pm. (2016, 485 min)
For tickets and ticket packages, visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/hele-sa-hiwagang-hapis
Individual tickets: Regular: $10 / Student, Senior, Teacher: $9 / YBCA Member: $8 / All Access: Free
Regular Package: Buy 3 New Filipino Cinema 2017 films and get 20% off ($8 each) YBCA Member Package: Buy 3 New Filipino Cinema 2017 films and get 25% off ($6 each)
For tickets, please visit: https://ybca.org/whats-on/new-filipino-cinema-2017
Program partners: FACINE—Filipino Arts & Cinema, International, Filipino American Arts Exposition, and Kularts. All films are shown digitally, in their original languages with English subtitles. Co-curated by Philbert Dy and Joel Shepard.