Kadtong pagsirado sa miaging tuig ug pagsugat sa bag-o, daghan sa social media ang gapamalikas sa 2016 tungod sa lain-laing mga hinungdan: pagkadaug sa mga presidente (sa Pinas ug US) nga sexist ug divisive, EJK, pagligis sa police car sa mga ralyistang lumad, paglubong sa Libingan ng mga Bayani sa kanhing presidente nga kawatan, gyera sa Syria, bagyong Nina nga mipaluhod sa mga poste sa kuryente ug miibot sa dakulaong mga kahoy sa Kabikulan ug Marinduque, pagkamatay sa pipila ka mga pinanggang pop culture icons (Kuya Germs, David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, ug uban pa) ang uban lang sa mga gikahimungtan sa mga tawo. Pero para sa mga matinguhaon nga mananan-aw og salidang Pinoy (nga kasagaran middle class nga nagpuyo sa Metro Manila kay didto man kadaghanan naka-base ang nagkalain-laing film festival ug nanginahanglan kini og pagpamuhonan sa oras ug kwarta), gahatag ang 2016 og silver lining.
Ang duha ka salida ni Lav Diaz sa niaging tuig gi-screen commercially sa ubay-ubay nga mga sinehan; nibalik ang full-length entries sa Cinemalaya; chada pud ang daghan sa mga salida nga produkto sa ubang filmfest (QCinema, Cinema One, CineFilipino, ToFarm, Sinag Maynila), labi na ang mga salida nga gihimo sa mga rehiyon gawas sa NCR; ug bag-o pa nahuman ang tuig, dagha’y nalipay sa unexpected but much welcome overhaul sa MMFF, nga nagpaguwa og daghang de-kalidad nga sine.
Sa 128 ka mga salidang Pinoy nga gipagawas sa mga sinehan sa niaging tuig, 79 ra ang akong nakit-an. Naa koy full-time work isip development researcher nga kinahanglan mo-byahe sa lagyong lugar, ug naa koy duha ka gagmay pang anak. Buot pasabot, mubo ra ang kinabuhi para sayangon ang panahon sa mga salidang kahibalo ko nga way nada.
Ang musunod mao ang unom nga pinakaganahan nako nga salidang Pinoy sa 2016:
1. ‘Women of the Weeping River’
Film aficionados familiar with Sheron Dayoc’s filmography (Halaw, Mientras su Durmida, among others) should not at all be surprised at the mastery of craft and storytelling he has shown in his latest work about a Tausug family engaged in a bloody rido with a neighboring clan. But what elevates Women of the Weeping River into modern classic territory is its nuanced understanding of issues that has been beleaguering the Bangsamoro people for decades, as well as its recognition of the power and quiet resolve of women in finding solutions to problems that are almost always perpetrated by men in an extremely patriarchal culture. The film’s cast of mostly non-professional actors should again remind regional filmmakers of undiscovered talent just waiting for opportunities.
2. ‘Baboy Halas’
Films on the lumad have almost always felt like they have been filtered through an outsider’s (i.e. Christian lowlander’s) perspective. Baboy Halas is cut from a different cloth as it allows us a peek into the lifeworld of Mindanao’s indigenous peoples in a rhythm and style that mirror their own – unhurried, primal, mystical. The fact that the film feels like a documentary is a testament to the skills of the filmmakers in ensuring that the lumad are not exoticized as they almost always are in popular culture.
Piding is ostensibly about a scientist who goes mad after he discovers a new bird species in a Philippine province. As experienced cinematically, it is an unhinged, playful, surreal plunge into the possibilities of experimental cinema to engage viewers without necessarily subjecting them to impenetrability for its own sake. For all its puzzling array of seemingly unconnected imagery, the film is open to several different interpretations: as an oddball romance (that scene towards the end where two people meet inside a giant bird structure is one of the year’s most romantic), as an ode to the dogged pursuit of life’s passions, or as an exercise in empathy for eccentrics anywhere.
4. ‘Ang Babaeng Humayo’
Lav Diaz’s signature slowburn style gets put to perfect use in this revenge noir of a mild-mannered schoolteacher wrongly imprisoned for a crime she didn’t commit. Diaz’s love for Russian literature is distinctly manifested here, where social exclusion, moral relativism and redemptive retribution are par for the course, even if the story is clearly set in late 90s Philippines. The auteur’s patient and sure-footed direction and the magnificent performances of Charo Santos, John Lloyd Cruz, and Nonie Buencamino make this one of my favorites in the Diaz oeuvre.
5. ‘Patay Na Si Hesus’
Comparisons to the 2006 family road comedy Little Miss Sunshine are inevitable but Victor Villanueva’s hilarious homage is deeply rooted in Visayan humor that the parallelism eventually doesn’t matter. For all its slapstick humor, it’s its thesis on the fluidity of the definition of family that hits the viewers harder. Two scenes of mourning towards the end of the film (both hilarious, by the way) will be talked about by people who’ve seen the film for years to come.
6. ‘Ma’ Rosa’
What immediately jumps at discerning viewers upon watching Ma’ Rosa is not necessarily its story – of a shabu-selling family in an urban poor neighborhood who gets trapped in a police station backroom by corrupt officers intent on milking them of their illegal income – it is actually Brillante Mendoza’s agile direction and expert camera movement that he has perfected over the years making verité-style films in slums (cf. Tirador, Foster Child, Lola). He’s almost like a 3D director in wanting us to feel like we are one of the characters navigating those narrow maze-like neighborhood alleyways and police precinct hallways. For all its technical virtuosity though, the film still makes us feel for the family, even as we know all along that they’ve had it coming.