Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Limbunan Trailer

The first feature narrative of filmmaker Gutierrez Mangansakan II and part of the 6th Cinemalaya Film Festival

Sakay sa Hangin (Windblown) Official Trailer

The upcoming film from filmmaker and brilliant cinematographer Regiben Romana of the Philippine Islands.

After a year of shooting in the highlands of Taalandig country and the streets of Manila, Regiben Romana is finally pushing toward finishing this promising "Documentary Musicale".

The film features the music and culture of Talaandig Artist Waway Saway.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Friday, 5 March 2010


Visual Pond launches ARTiculation, a Philippine contemporary art series

Created and produced by Visual Pond, ARTiculation is a series on contemporary artists from the Philippines. The only series of its kind locally and consisting of ten videos released online throughout the year, each episode features an artist talking about his/her body of work such as themes, influences and motivations. The series, shot and edited with a low budget, aims to be a critical and easily accessible resource for curators, writers, students, academics and anyone who wants to learn more about contemporary artists from the Philippines. A catalogue featuring the ten artists will be made available at the end of the year. For foreign audiences, Visual Pond will eventually be releasing English transcripts.

For the first episode, Visual Pond is delighted to feature Mark Salvatus. Born 1980 and a BFA Advertising Arts cum laude graduate from the University of Santo Tomas, Salvatus is interested in urban and community-based art as demonstrated in street art, the Wrapped project, the Accidental Contemporary Art series and blogging. He has participated in a number of international residencies such as the Asia Cultural Artist Residency (Gwangju, Korea), the Shatana International Residency (Shatana, Irbid, Jordan) and the Can Serrat Centro de Actividades Artisticas (Barcelona, Spain). He will soon be going to Melbourne, Australia as an artist for the Next Wave Festival 2010.

To watch the first episode, please go to the following links:

S01E01 Mark Salvatus
Part 1/3
Part 2/3
Part 3/3

More information on Mark Salvatus at his blog http://marksalvatus.blogspot.com/

ARTiculation © 2010, Visual Pond Artspace, Inc.
Series Director: Clarissa Chikiamco
Executive Producers and Curators: Clarissa Chikiamco & Rica Estrada
Associate Producers: Cheska Tanada & Tenten Mina
Series Coordinator: Rica Estrada
All images courtesy and copyright of Mark Salvatus
Music by and courtesy of Aljar3D http://www.myspace.com/dnbjared
ARTiculation logo by Cheska Tanada

Subscribe to the Visual Pond youtube channel: www.youtube.com/user/visualpond
Visual Pond website: http://visualpond.multiply.com/
Visual Pond Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/#%21/group.php?gid=321716607895&ref=ts
To remove your email from the emailing list, please send an email to visualpond@gmail.com with 'Remove email' as the subject line.

Visual Pond Artspace, Inc. is a non-profit organization committed to the visual arts. Based in Manila, Visual Pond aims to be a dynamic player in the Philippine contemporary art scene through projects that engage and promote local artists both here and abroad. We at Visual Pond envision a contemporary art scene that is vibrant, open to experimentation and supported by the community. By taking initiatives and creating opportunities for Filipino artists, we work towards this realization for the visual arts locale.

Asides from Manila-based projects, we are also interested in regional and international exchanges on ideas, concepts and possible collaborations with definite end products.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

SDP's Let's Talk

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) are now producing Singapore's first internet talkshow, Let's Talk. Coincidentally, the SDP gained internet-notoriety just a few years ago when Martyn See produced Singapore Rebel which prominently featured SDP honcho Chee Soon Juan.

The inaugural episode features Alex Au, one of the most prominent bloggers in Singapore and author of the Yawningbread.org. Au is also one of the leaders of gay rights activist group People Like Us.

The second episode features writer and social activist Constance Singam. Singam has been a longtime advocate for women's rights and, unsurprisingly, she's also a blogger: http://connie.sg/

For future episodes, check the SDP's YouTube channel.

SDP: website, YouTube channel
People Like Us: website, Wiki
Connie Singam

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Asian Film Archive

From Bee Thiam of the Asian Film Archive:

Dear friends,

As part of our education and outreach efforts, the Asian Film Archive is, for the first time, launching an online campaign to generate greater awareness of the importance and urgency of saving Asia’s film heritage. In line with UNESCO’s message on World Day for Audiovisual Heritage to save a fading heritage, the Archive hopes that this series of videos will reach out to the public as well as film communities with the vital message on the need to properly and adequately preserve their filmic works.

Released on YouTube, these part informational and part tongue-in-cheek videos will be released online periodically. Two videos have already been uploaded onto the Archive's YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/AsianFilmArchive), as well as on its Facebook group.

Through these videos, the Archive hopes to generate the realisation in filmmakers on how urgent it is to archive their works early as they become aware of the fragility of their creative works physical shelf life when stored improperly.

Asian Film Archive
The Asian Film Archive is a non-governmental organisation founded to preserve the rich film heritage of Asian Cinema, to encourage scholarly research on film, and to promote a wider critical appreciation of this art form. As an important nexus, it brings together the various segments of the Asian film community in order to open and enrich new intellectual, educational and creative spaces.

Bee Thiam
Director, Asian Film Archive

E: info@asianfilmarchive.org
W: www.asianfilmarchive.org
Blog: http://www.asianfilmarchive.org/Blog/
Pictures from In Conversation With Filmmakershttp://www.flickr.com/photos/36088625@N06/show/


Sunday, 25 October 2009

Eloi Hernandez interviews Ed Cabagnot

From Eloi's blog:

A Conversation with Ed Cabagnot

While doing my research on digital cinema in the Philippines, it was inevitable that I talk to Ed Cabagnot. Here's an excerpt of our conversation where Ed shares his experience with the ECP and the early years of Gawad CCP.

I worked with Ed in the early 1990s, he's at the CCP Film while I was with the CCP Visual Arts and then CCP Outreach. I learned a lot about films and photography from him. One afternoon, passing through Ed's office I saw him watching a film, I stopped and joined him. I was enthralled, completely awed and fell in love. The film was Raise the Red Lantern by Zhang Yimou. Unfortunately, I had a meeting to go to and I was not able to finish the film. But the images stayed with me. I was fortunate to finally finish the film a few years back. I am still in love with it. Thank you, Ed.

EH: I’m very interested in your first-hand experience in the GAWAD CCP, Freefest and Cinemalaya. Please take us back in time.

ED: My first statement is that Cinemalaya is one of the most successful projects of the Cultural Center of the Philippines to date in the sense that audience-wise even if we did not have press release, people came and the screenings get filled up. So audience-wise, every year people flock to watch Cinemalaya films. Number two, revenue-wise it is also one of the most lucrative CCP projects. In the past year Cinemalaya earned 27.5 million pesos in ticket sales, compared to the first year which was barely 5 million -- so you can see the trajectory. And I’m not saying “kasi ang galing- galing ng CCP,” I’m just saying that the time is right. We have a lot of people making new films. We have a lot of audiences who are looking for films and then we have a venue like CCP which is giving these people the space.

My statement there is that the success of Cinemalaya wasn’t overnight. The road to Cinemalaya was a long, long road and I think if you will allow me, I think it even goes beyond CCP. For me, from my experience, I think the first stirring of this movement was called Philippine Independent filmmaking which started as early, even before the 80’s. My first hand experience with the indies was working under the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines. So I can bring you back -- this was created by the Marcos administration in February 1982 to be the managing organization of Imelda’s Manila Film Center. So the ECP was created to create film-related events that can push Philippine cinema forward. So on one side of the ECP was Imelda’s MIFF - Manila International Film Festival – whose main goal was to make Manila the Cannes of Asia, the Cannes Film Festival of Asia. On the other side of CCP was Imee. Imee was tasked by Marcos to create the other incentives. And what were the other incentives? Other incentives included a film fund which means if you have a film in production but cannot finish it due to financial difficulties, you can show your rushes and then the ECP would give you the balance. And then there were film production which was responsible for four of the best films I know – Oro, Plata, Mata, Himala, Soltero, Misterio sa Tuwa. And then you have the archives headed ni Ernie De Pedro. It was a beautiful archives below. And then you have Film Education of Ward Loarca but that did not really take off.

And then where I was, was the Alternative Cinema. Alternative Cinema’s job was just to fill up all the theatres of the Manila Film Center and we had more than 13 theatres with regular screenings. The main theatre of the Manila Film Festival Center could seat approximately 1,800 people. The 2 smaller theaters were big; they were as big as the Little Theater – 450-seater and a 350-seater. And then you have the mini preview rooms which could sit 100 people to 300 people. So that was our job.

My boss before was Boy Noriega. So doon sa Alternative Cinema, I was handling the classic films - the Renoirs, Truffauts, Kurosawas, the Fellinis, etc. And then somebody else was handling the Filipino titles. And then somebody else was handling the independent films. For me, it all started with the ECP Independent Film and Video Competition. It started, if I’m not mistaken, in 1982. Bienvenido “Boy” Noriega Jr., the playwright, inspired it. He was also a bank vice president for PNB, but at the same time he was an officer of ECP, and he was an author. He loved short films, he loved classic movies, so he was the one with Imee, who thought of coming up with a competition. So the ECP Experimental Cinema and Independent Film & Video competition became the first ever regular competition sponsored by the government that gave young Filipino filmmakers awards for the best documentary, best short feature or narrative film, best experimental and best animation - so the 4 categories were there. The likes of Nick Deocampo, Raymond Red, Joey Agbayani, Rox Lee and a host of other people who many consider as the pillars of Philippine Independent Cinema became known here. And I remember we were all young then, they were programming the festival, we were all joining the festival, and it was fun.

EDSA People Power happened in 1986 and one of the first things that the new administration did was shut down most of the Marcos’s machineries. Unfortunately, I felt it was very relentless. They should have kept the ones that worked and I felt that the ECP was one of the best efforts of the government, but unfortunately they shut it down. Manila Film Center was closed. CCP changed its thrust. You know that Eloi, you were from here - decentralization, etc. They opened CCP to include the non-performing arts so the VLMA (Visual Literary Media Arts) was formed and Hammy Sotto became the head for Film. They wanted the CCP not just a venue but also a Coordinating Center.

So when Hammy came in, he asked me to join him. To be honest, I did not want to work with government anymore but Hammy is a nice guy and said. “Don’t worry Ed, we’ll have as much fun as you did in ECP.” When I joined CCP, most of the projects/programs that we did at the ECP were adopted by the CCP. But of course, CCP’s budget is much smaller than ECP’s - you know all of a sudden arts and culture fell into nothingness. You were here, you know how our budgets were, but we did very good projects. One of the projects that had a reincarnation was the ECP Independent Film and Video Competition that was renamed GAWAD CCP para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video.

Hammy was so wise. He didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, so the Coordinating Center for Film in 1987 was patterned after the ECP but on a very, very small scale. I managed World Cinema. Lyn Pareja managed Filipino Greats. And then you had Jon Red who was managing the Indie film. So Jon Red was in-charged of GAWAD CCP para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video. And what was nice even though there was one or two years gap between the end of ECP and the start of Coordinating Center for Film, when we started the GAWAD there was a smooth transition. A lot of people joined like Mark Leily, they all joined. To be honest with you, even the exact rules and regulations of the GAWAD was based on the ECP.

EH: So this was about ‘88?

ED: ‘87. The good then thing is we felt that the ECP pattern was good, so why re-invent it? That’s the problem with Filipino, when there’s a change in management, everything changes. That’s why I like Hammy because he is not like that, for him it was “let’s just do this because it was good in the first place.” So the categories survived up to now.

The GAWAD CCP para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video is one of the longest running GAWAD of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. But Eloi, please help me with this research, it’s my claim that “it is the longest running Independent Film Festival in Asia.” There’s no other independent competition, especially for shorts, that I know existed in countries including Japan or even India. So if you could help me with that claim. But at least for Southeast Asia I know we were first and we’re still there.

So yung Independent Cinema scene I think, if you just look at all the winners of the GAWAD, you would see the trending, you would see the themes and technologies that were the trend for certain periods.

EH: Were you able to keep the films?

Ed: No. We only started archiving the films between 20 years, during the 10th or 11th year. But the nice thing is most of the entries of the GAWAD CCP came from Mowelfund, UP, Ateneo, La Salle and most of these schools would have their archives. Unfortunately, I just found out from Ricky Orellana that even Mowelfund is having a hard time archiving their shorts. They still have but they need the funding and the people to maintain it, digitize it - so that’s the problem.

EH: What about your catalogs?

ED: The catalogs are almost complete in the CCP library. And for the 20th anniversary (of CCP), Ricky and I had been talking about having some of the Mowelfund shorts digitized using CCP equipment. Because we feel that we own it partly because they’re GAWAD winners. And as I’ve said, young people nowadays especially they’re going into independent filmmaking, it’s nice for them to realize that they are not alone - a lot of people started before them.

EH: That they’re not “putok sa buho?”

ED: Exactly. For me, that’s one of the ways we can help them. There are a lot of independent filmmakers who are big-headed; they think they are always the first to do things, which I don’t mind, it’s nice to have a big ego but if you feel like you’re a part of a tradition, then that’s better.

Part 2 to follow.

Cultural Center of the Philippines May 14, 2009

Friday, 23 October 2009

Today in Southeast Asian film history: 23 October 1968

41 years ago, Gema Dari Menara, Brunei Darussalam's first feature film premiered at the New Boon Pang Theatre, Brunei Town (now called Bandar Seri Begawan).

Above is Gema Dari Menara's screening schedule which appeared in the classified ads section of The Borneo Bulletin, 19 October 1968, p.23. Below is the full page it appeared in (which is quite interesting in its own right):

Friday, 16 October 2009

For the Lav of it: “Fuck profit motive in cinema!”

Lav Diaz struck by incurable stage fright? Must be melancholia. So he got frequent collaborator, actress Angeli Bayani, to read a little something he wrote for the Italian Film Festival in Manila, October 14, 2009. I shall say no more. Below is the entire speech reposted from the Encantos blog:

A Speech for the 8th Italian Film Festival

By Lav Diaz

This piece will not be long. I timed it. It shall be just two minutes.

Okay, it will be a little bit longer. I am writing this piece in a very organic way, no apologies-stream of consciousness manner. This is free cinema.

I hate speeches to be very honest. Besides an incurable stage freight, I would rather much prefer to just play guitar with my back behind the crowd or be behind the camera than talk in front of people who would just be hearing another fool’s hyperbole and self-important chatter.

I received this request to deliver a speech here as a guest of honor.

What on earth is a guest of honor? Have you checked my background? The Board of Censors here in the Philippines banned my films, my two films that won at the Orizzonti of the Venice Film Festival. There’s nudity and sex, they said. Without proper critical viewing of my films by the honorable members of the Board of Censors, they deemed the films not appropriate for viewing here in their country of origin. They banned other works, too. And lately, they have been encroaching on the freedom of venues like the Adarna Theatre of the University of the Philippines. Benito Mussolini must be very proud.

I’ll say it again. Censorship is poison to cinema. Censorship is poison to the arts. Censorship is poison to culture. Censorship is a very feudal act. It is fascism.

The invitation also says that I should talk about my Venice experience. So, here’s a piece from a Filipino independent pornography filmmaker.

First, I would like to congratulate the 8th edition of the Italian Film Festival here in our beloved battered Philippines.

The Venice Film Festival or the Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia is the Mother of film festivals. It is the oldest film festival in the world. This tradition of mounting film festivals had its beginning in Venice, Italy in 1932. In 1952, the first Filipino film to compete, Manuel Conde’s Genghis Khan, exhibited in Venice. In 1985, Mike de Leon’s Sister Stella L. was shown at the festival. And in 2007, my film Death in the Land of Encantos competed and won Special Mention at the Orizzonti section of the festival. The following year, in 2008, my film Melancholia, competed in the same section and won the Orizzonti Prize. This year, Briliante Mendoza’s Lola was a Philippine entry at the Main Competition and Pepe Diokno’s Engkwentrocoveted two prizes, the Orizzonti Prize and the Luigi di Laurentii Lion of the Future Prize. Despite the dearth of our participation in the seventy six years existence of the Mostra, only six films to date, we have had a very triumphant and respectable run. Long live, Philippine cinema, indeed! And I would like to point out that despite the absence of state support in our cultural struggle, in the state’s sheer ignorance on the very important role of the arts in educating our people, cultural workers, especially artists and activists, persevere in pursuing greater discourse and praxis in this vast wasteland called the Philippines.

A Venice attendance is every filmmaker’s dream. If you are into aesthetic exercise, world cinema offers a load of great and incendiary works. And if you have celebrity skin, Hollywood’s killer vanity and fashion’s hallucinatory sheen is just everywhere. You can check the stately hotel where Thomas Mann wrote Death in Venice. A walk in Venice is a time machine ride with its old structures, art centers and canals. A boat ride is a rock ‘n roll experience.

More than the festivities and the city, Italy gave the world its great cinema culture. Roberto Rossellini, Michaelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Vittorio de Sica, Ermanno Olmi, Bernardo Bertolucci, Sergio Leone. That venerable list is continued by modern auteurs like Gianni Amelio, Giuseppe Tornatore, Marco Bellocchio, Paolo Sorrentino, Gabriele Salvatores and a lot more.

Italian cinema has given us many of the greatest models and paradigms--Open City, Paisan, Stromboli, L’Avventura, La Notte, L’eclisse, The Leopard, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 8 ½, La Dolce Vita, Umberto D., Bicycle Thief, The Conformist, The Tree of Wooden Clogs, L’America. These works are incomparable masterpeices. These works set the standard by which the greater aesthetic discourse in cinema will continue to be measured upon till cinema is not dead. Yes, cinema will not die. We have Italian Cinema. Cinema will not die, we have Philippine cinema.

In one interview, Antonioni said: "I would not want to say. Or perhaps I do not know."

And I want to say this, allow me please: “Fuck profit motive in cinema!”

We just hope that this year’s edition will measure up to the greater tradition of cinema.

I will forever honor the memory of the great martyr, Alexis Tioseco… for the struggle toward a greater Philippine Cinema. Nika Bohinc will forever be in our hearts.

Again, mabuhay to the 8th year of the Italian Film Festival.

Salamat po.

(Read by Angeli Bayani, lead actress of Death in the Land of Encantos and Melancholia, during the Opening Ceremonies of the 8th Italian Film Festival in Manila, October 14, 2009)

Kudos, Encantos!

Review: At The End of Daybreak

At The End of Daybreak sees Ho Yuhang and Pete Teo continuing their creative collaboration after the success of Rain Dogs (2006) and the very recent 15Malaysia project. Yuhang's latest opus has him back in his usual cinematic mode, long-takes and all--which is far from the quirky comedy of his 15Malaysia contribution, Potong Saga.

Koreanfilm.org's Darcy Paquet reviews this film for Screen Daily:

Dir/scr: Ho Yuhang. Malaysia/HK/S Korea. 2009. 94 mins.
Malaysian director Ho Yuhang trades in the languid, long-take aesthetic of his early career for something more kinetic in At the End of Daybreak, an intriguing portrait of an adolescent affair gone wrong. The film should help to cement Ho’s position at the forefront of Malaysia’s art-house renaissance, though its noir-ish conclusion lacks the punch that could have made it a knockout. Wide festival exposure and Ho’s reputation should translate into modest commercial sales and a lengthy afterlife on DVD.
Vivid characters and a briskly paced, slightly experimental editing style help to maintain viewers’ attention
The film, which premiered in Locarno, has been sold to several Southeast Asian territories and may yet add a few European deals before it is finished. Vivid characters and a briskly paced, slightly experimental editing style help to maintain viewers’ attention, though it will be marketed primarily on its arthouse qualities.
The plot centers around an immature 23-year-old man named Tuck Chai (Chui Tien-you) who remains very much under the spell of his domineering, alcoholic mother (Wai Ying-hong). Through the internet he meets and starts a sexual affair with schoolgirl Ying (Ng Meng-hui), who feels stifled by the oppressive atmosphere at her home and school.

However when Ying’s mother discovers birth control pills in her room, she threatens to charge Tuck Chai with statutory rape. As his mother scrambles to raise cash for a settlement, turning to her estranged husband, an increasingly desperate Tuck Chai convinces Ying to meet him in person one last time.

The film’s first ten minutes are a show of editing bravura, with disorienting leaps from character to character that vaguely echo 1920s-era Soviet montage. However the focus quickly comes to rest on the characters of Tuck Chai and Ying, who inhabit very different social worlds (Ying studies piano, while our first view of Tuck Chai sees him pour boiling water over a rat in a cage).

Ho is skilled at fleshing out his characters with interesting details and evocative lines of dialogue. Tuck Chai is in equal parts repulsive for his cowardly behavior and sympathetic for his awkward boyishness, leaving viewers unsure what to think of him.
Towards its end the film takes an unexpected violent turn (mostly occurring offscreen), and a darker, less urgent aesthetic takes over. The plot twist brings some surprises, but it also simplifies the story and removes some of the restless energy that made earlier reels so interesting.

Acting is solid throughout, with Chui’s performance ranging from inarticulate silence to sudden, unplanned outbursts of emotion. Ng’s face is harder to read, but as the relationship goes sour a callous streak in her character’s personality becomes apparent. Meanwhile Wai Ying-hong is particularly memorable as Tuck Chai’s tough minded mother who wields power over her son but can’t control her own drinking problem.
Nervous movement characterises Teoh Gay-hian’s cinematography, with the camera moving up close to the characters and rarely standing still. The film’s distinctive visual style is one of its clear strengths. Singer Pete Teo’s eclectic score ranges from solo piano to Japanese pop to a cappella voices reciting songs and prayers.