The Philippine Indie Film scene has never had it so good. For the past number of years, it has grown in leaps and bounds and not without a worthy purpose. The country used to have one of the biggest film industries in Asia but has significantly lagged behind in the late 90s to the present that, as a result, a large chunk of movie stars have resorted to appearing in television to sustain their income. But things are looking up. Pinoy Indie movies are starting to break into the global market in a steadily progressive way. And at the rate these small filmmakers are churning out films left and right – and winning awards and recognitions in film festivals around the world – there is hope.
2009 is a significant year for Pinoy Indie Films. Last May, Brillante Mendoza graduated into the big time after claiming the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival for his competition film “Kinatay” (Butchered). It is also worth noting that two other homegrown flicks – Raya Martin’s Independencia and Manila by Adolfo Alix & Raya Martin – were shown in the Un Certain Regard and Special Screening sections, respectively.
There is also a sextet of mainstream film directors who released their individual foray into indie filmmaking under the Sine Direk Masterworks series. The line-up includes Joel Lamangan’s Fuschia, Soxie Topacio’s Ded Na Si Lolo (Grandfather is Dead), Lore Reyes’ Litsonero (The Roaster), Peque Gallaga’s Agaton & Mindy, Maryo delos Reyes’ Kamoteng Kahoy (Sweet Potato) and Mel Chionglo’s Bente (Twenty). Four of the movies were rated A by the FRB (Film Ratings Board), with Litsonero getting a B.
Any of the six movies in the series can very easily qualify for international film festivals, with Kamoteng Kahoy and Bente possibly getting an award or two for acting. In particular, child performers Robert “Buboy” Villar and Nash Aguas are shoo-ins to become festival darlings should Kamoteng Kahoy compete abroad.
I hope people patronized these works (instead of complaining that all local indie films are always gay-themed) during their limited commercial run (one-week for each movie) because this is the only way the industry can survive. I was able to catch four (with corresponding images above) and I doff my hat to these directors.
In Part 2 of this blog, I will be writing about the recently-concluded Cinemalaya Cinco which harvested an even larger collection of excellent indie movies for everyone to enjoy.