I always find myself half-satiated when I walk into a screening of Cinemalaya shorts. Every year, there has always been one or two bad films mixed with good ones. Fortunately, not one of the five films in this year’s Shorts A was atrocious.
Boca, Chavacano for mouth, is a study of oral fixation. It follows a jaded telemarketer named Charlemagne who is well on his way to 500,000 sticks of cigarettes smoked in his lifetime. His addiction, Charlemagne explains, is just a transference of his fixation from his mother’s breasts when he stopped drinking milk when he was 12 years-old. Director Zurich Chan’s use of visual metaphors and the Chavacano language give the film a suave, sexy, Wong Kar Wai-esque quality which piques the audience’s sensibilities.
Breakfast with Lolo is on a league of its own. Part tribute and part advertisement, Steven Flor’s short tells a delightful anecdote of a grandson taking his grandfather out for pancakes… and what glorious towers of pancakes they are. After viewing the movie, I had the sudden urge to check out Trigo Café in Diliman.
Janus Victoria’s Dalaw plays like a long diary entry in the life of a woman (Che Ramos) going back to stay with her grandmother. Both women are stricken with grief, which they briefly remedy with distractions such as the little hanging trinkets that bring them no true consolation. The women are much like the film’s other character, the Pasig river, as its steady current depicts their ebbing of emotions.
For his sophomore Cinemalaya entry, Borgy Torre’s Despedida seems a tad bit contrived. The film is technically superior on top of the poignant performances of its cast. This time, Angel Aquino plays a quirky muse to Michael, a guy chained to nursing his bedridden parents. Although Torre’s twist on a person’s dilemma between rationality and lust is both shocking and humorous, it somewhat lacks the compassion and humanity that his previous film, Bonsai, possessed.
Despite having protests against Jerrold Tarog’s ANC Ambisyon entry Faculty being included in this year’s roster, I will digress for the sake of the film’s impact. Tarog’s commentary on the nation’s crumbling educational system—shown through the divided polarities of teachers—is as sharp and as piercing as the brilliantly written dialogue thrown by the actors. Though the film takes no sides, its biting last line gives us a hope that changes do result from good education reinforced by strong values.