Monday, September 07, 2009


This is an e-mail I sent to Alexis Tioseco on September 2, 2005, talking about some Southeast Asian short films I saw, including the Filipino ones in his program. I think I should post it here, too:

"Hi Alexis

I’m very sorry to reply a little bit late. The fact is that I don’t own a computer and have to use the internet cafe, and normally I go to an internet cafe only on the weekends. So sometimes it takes a week before I reply. I hope you don’t mind.

I’m also sorry if I don’t remember some short films I saw very well. It is because during short film festivals like this, I saw approximately 30-50 short films a day. That makes it hard to remember the details of each film, but I have no choice. If I don’t see them all in this kind of festival, I may not have a chance to see them again. I wish I could have had more time to write down the details of each film I saw, but I had not much free time. So all I could do is just ranking the films according to my preferential order, because it takes only few seconds to do something like this.

I really appreciate what you did with the Philippine program. You chose the films very well. Most of them are not plain narrative. The only one which can be called plain narrative is Kultado (2005, Lawrence Fajardo), but the film is very powerful.

Bakasyon (2004, Raya Martin) is also narrative. But I like the haunting atmosphere of this film very much.So in my own personal opinion, the atmosphere of this film seems to be more important than the story, thus I call it an atmospheric film, rather than a plain narrative film. I also like very much that the film never shows what really happened. I don’t know who or what the grandmother really is. However, I’m not so sure about it. Maybe the film did show what the grandmother really is, but I just missed that scene.Or maybe the film concerns a Philippine folklore, and if you know the folklore, you will understand the film. I’m not sure. However, I like the fact that I don’t truly understand what happened in the final part of the film. Watching this film reminds me of Hotel (2004, Jessica Hausner, A+). Hotel (2004) is very atmospheric. There seems to be no story, or no real dramatic plot. It is just about a girl going to work in a hotel. But something is wrong in the hotel. And in the end, we never know what is wrong with the hotel. We just know that something is wrong. We justknow it. We just sense it. We just feel it. But we will never understand it. We can dream about it or imagine it anyway we like, but we can never be sure about it.

If you can, try to screen Bakasyon together with Hotel(2004). These two films seem to be made out of the same twilight zone.

As for the Philippine program, I came to the screening late, so I missed Tawidgutom, which is the first film shown in the program. The film I like the most in the program is Red Saga (2004, Gabriela Krista Dalena). It is very powerful and very painful. I don’t understand the context of the film, because I don’t know anything about the social problems, the general history, the political history, or the political conflicts of Philippines, but I still feel some kind of pain watching this film. If the director chooses to tell the story in a narrative way, maybe he can make a lot of audience cry with a painful story like this. But Ilike the way it is now.

Watching Red Saga reminds me of “Fight For Us” (LinoBrocka), which is also a powerful political film. I think “Fight For Us” is about something which happened during the Aquino regime. I also like Imelda (2003,Ramona S. Diaz) very much. And I think that after some films about Imelda Marcos and Corazon Aquino’s regimes were made, maybe it is time to make some films about Arroyo’s regime, or maybe some films have already been made about that, I don’t know.

I think one good thing about Philippine cinema is that there seems to be many political films. Thailand lack political films.

The film which I regretfully forgot the most part of it is Exaggeration (2005, Bryan Blue Cuevas). I just remember the feeling that I felt joyful and pleasant watching this film, but I remember nothing else. I forgot most images and sound of this film. It really requires second viewing. I like Jon Jost very much. I only saw one film of his—All the Vermeers in New York (1990, A+) , but I’m sure he is a great artist.

From only one viewing, I don’t understand “Coming toPass” (2005, Sherad Anthony Sanchez). But it seems funny to me, and I like most films which portray crazy female characters.

I also don’t understand Abstraction (2005, Sherad Anthony Sanchez). Is it about abortion or teenage sex? I don’t know. Please correct me if I’m wrong. But I’m not a fan of anti-abortion or anti-teenage sex films.I like the style of this film, though I’m not sure about the message.

Apple (2005, Sherad Anthony Sanchez) might also be a moralistic film or a social-concerned film. But I’m overwhelmed by its power, and I like the final part of this film very much. Though I’m not a fan of moralistic films, I think that “Apple” still has manythings to offer more than a simple moral lesson or more than a social problem in which it is too clear who is wrong or right or who is the perpetrator and who is the victim. In reality, sometimes it is very clear who is wrong or right in some social problems,but many times it is boring when someone tries to show that kind of reality in a film. However, I think the directors of “Red Saga” and “Apple” chose the appropriate way to make a social-concerned film.

I don’t remember much about Salat (2004, John Torres).I just remember that I like it. I normally like films which have a structure like this—composed of small stories or small sets of powerful images, though it is not clear how they are directly related to each other.

I think Salat also requires second viewing.

I don’t remember the whole story of Juan Kaliwa (LeftTurn). I just remember that it is an intriguing animation. The images of a tree in this film make me think about some beautiful music video by Peter Gabriel.

I missed the Malaysian program.

As for the Singapore program, most of the films are plain narrative, and not much different from feature films. This fact also makes them not more interesting than feature films. However, “ONO! Or: Art for theexecutive” (2004, Frankie Ng Tze Wei) stands out. This film is also composed of many short stories. It isvery funny.

The Indonesia program have many interesting films. I think I can call Edwin, the director of “DajangSoembi, The Lady Who Was Married With A Dog”, an Indonesian “Guy Maddin”. “Unrescued World”, directedby Zeke Haris Gumelar, is hard to understand, but I like that. “The Standoff” (2004, Vanni Jamin) and“Chasing Terbit” (2004, Ivan Poetra) are narrative,but good ones.

Are you Alexis Tioseco who wrote some articles in Senses of Cinema? I sometimes contribute list of myfavorite films to Senses of Cinema. I can only contribute lists of favorite films, because I don’thave an ability to write any long or serious articles about films. I’m just a normal audience. I’m not a critic nor a filmmaker.

I used to write something in English a long time ago.If you are interested, you can read it at

and at

However, I stopped writing in English a few years ago.It is because some Thai movie webboards got popular a few years ago, so I turned to focus on posting my comments on these Thai webboards, and later I collect my comments from these webboards to post them again onmy blog.

I hope one day the films of Khavn de la Cruz will be shown in Bangkok.

It is very nice to know you."

No comments: