Sunday, June 9, 2013

Vow of Silence (2012)

WHO: Mercedes Cabral stars in this short directed by Anna Isabelle Matutina.

WHAT: I've only seen the trailer, but this looks like a potentially probing and provocative narrative exploration of Filipino patriarchy. Cabral plays a woman who is married with two children, but who has never experienced orgasm. The short reportedly "drew gasps from the audience with its portrayal of female sexuality and family relationships" at a recent short film festival in Finland.

WHERE/WHEN: Today only at YBCA, on a program starting at 1:00 PM.

WHY: Today is the final day of the YBCA New Filipino Cinema series, unless you count next Friday's encore screening of the crowd-pleasiing music documentary Harana. Today's festival events include a free panel discussion and screenings of two features, but the day starts off with the only shorts in this year's festival. There's a program of four of them, all directed by women: Waiting To Whisper by Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo, Aurora, My Aurora by Janus Victoria, Last Strike by Aliess Alonso, and this one by Matutina.

Matutina and Cabral are firmly connected to the independent Filipino movie-making scene; Matutina came to directing through her work as an editor, for television but also for digital filmmakers like the pioneering Khavn de la Cruz; she edited his 2007 shot-in-one-day feature Squatterpunk, for instance. She also has early experience working with one of the most important figures in the scene, Lav Diaz. Meanwhile, Cabral began her acting career at a successful audition for a role in Serbis, directed by another of the most internationally-known Filipino filmmakers, Brillante Mendoza. She's appeared in four more of Mendoza's features, as well as Marlon Rivera's The Woman in the Septic Tank and Korean director Park Chan-wook's Thirst. But these are all supporting roles, so it'll be nice to see her playing a lead today.

HOW: I believe that all the selections in the 2013 New Filipino Cinema series are being projected digitally, most of them via DCP. I'm pretty sure that all of them (except for retrospective title Himala) were shot digitally, as video technology has for years been a key method for independent artists to distinguish their product from that of the major studios. Khavn de la Cruz was an early advocate, and I'll end this post with a decade-old quote from the last of four manifestos written between 1998 and 2003, and re-published in the book Southeast Asian Independent Cinema:
Digital film, with its qualities of mobility, flexibility, intimacy, and accessibility, is the apt medium for a Third World Country like the Phillippines. Ironically, the digital revolution has reduced the emphasis on technology and has reasserted the centrality of the filmmaker, the importance of the human condition over visual junk food.

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