This year’s Metro Manila Film Festival is controversial due to the fact that known production houses and household celebrity names were not included in the list. This includes movies of Vice Ganda, Vic Sotto and Mother Lily. This festival has been accused and found GUILTY of only helping out big production houses and feeding Filipino audiences with canned and formula-based storylines. This year, true to the slogan of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, change has come to the MMFF not only in full length films but in the short film category as well. Out of more than 50 entries nationwide, 8 were chosen to be included in this year’s festival. All 8 short films are 5 minutes long and is shown with a full length movie. Sitsiritsit was shown with Seklusyon, Manila Screen was shown with Ang Babae sa Septic Tank Part 2, and Mitatang was shown with Die Beautiful. I was lucky to be invited to a special screening of Mga Bitoon sa Siyudad (Stars in the City) of direk Jarell Serencio, a graduate of Holy Cross of Davao College and has served as researcher for ABS-CBN’s Maalaala Mo Kaya. For direk Jarell, this is his second short film in a festival. His first was Victor which garnered the Best Film award at the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival in 2012 of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. This year, direk Jarell is hoping to tell the story of the Roxas Night Market bombing in his hometown Davao City.
Using non-actors as actors, direk Jarell tried to capture the story of the bombing in 3 September 2016 from the eyes of two kids – Oliver and Mac-Mac. These two kids are known at the Roxas Night Market as they perform from table to table with one doing the beatbox while the other improvs. The Roxas-famous kids, together with their father, were cast members of the short film.
There is no need to provide a synopsis of the short film. Afterall, the Duterte-critics made sure that the entire world will look down on Davao City and its security. However, there is something about the narrative of direk Jarell and the length of the movie that would make you feel the intensity of the pain and suffering of the people that night and the days after. I asked direk if there were changes in his original planned narrative after meeting the kids and interviewing people who were there during the bombing. He said, the suffering was not entirely magnified from the perspective of the two kids but it was devastating for the adults who were there.
If that is the case, then the last frame before it cut to credits was the best way to show how a kid would react to such act of terror. That pace and facial expression of the kid void of any stereotypical emotion showed more than any dramatic tactics can provide.
This short gets my thumbs up!
If you are interested to watch Mga Bitoon sa Siyudad, it is shown with Oro – a full length film directed by Alvin Yapan. Cast members include Joem Bascon, Irma Adlawan, and my personal favorite Mercedes Cabral.
Oro is screened at Gaisano Mall of Davao at 145* per ticket, SM Lanang at 190* per ticket.
To know more about the short film, like and share its Facebook page facebook.com/starsinthecity
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