THE SHORT movies in competition were very engaging. Borgy Torres’ Bonsai, which won the Cinemalaya best short film, is about an obese security guard trying to woo a washerwoman. For a short space of 20 minutes (the limit in the competition), it manages to draw from the audience varied emotions of repulsion, interest, and heartbreak.

The Special Jury Award as runner-up best film went to Thomasian Rommel “Milo” Tolentino’s Blogog, which, like his celebrated Andong (last year’s grand prize winner), is another charming take on Pinoy childhood. It is about a boy who finds a filthy ball in the creek that tosses by itself and can even teleport. The seeming magical ball conjures the magic and yearnings of childhood.

Dexter Cayanes won the best director for Musa, about Tatang, an old man who can miraculously heal wounds, and Bienvenido, who desires revenge against people who oppress women and homosexuals. The film is noted for its poetry and power.

Winning best screenplay for Mark Philipp Espina is Behind Closed Doors, about a married couple who try to hide their mutual betrayal. The movie has impressive performances by Bart Guingona and Ana Abad Santos.

Tatang is about the granddaughter of an old pickpocket who tries to outdo him in the trade when he unwittingly calls her an onerous burden. The short film also won the Audience Choice award.

Hulagpos, a film student thesis from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, tries to redefine the Philippine horror genre.

Wat Floor Ma’am is a humorous take on Imelda Marcos as she explains away the fabulous Marcos wealth as having come from the mythical Yamashita treasure. It is distinguished by the superb performance of Pinky Marquez as the former first lady.

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Despite a nearly dialogue-less narrative, Ariel Reyes’ Ugat Sa Lupa effectively conveys the anguish and suffering of farmers after their water supply dries out.

Despite its humor, Si Bok at ang Trumpo by Hubert Tibi leaves its audience confused offer the movie’s depiction of a child’s mischievous acts – drawing the horned image of his cruel grandmother and posting insulting graffiti against his neighbors.

From Davao comes John Paul Seniel’s Latus, which comes out strong in its advocacy against child abuse, but is weighed down by its histrionic acting and over-the-top depiction.

Filipinos in the Himalayas

Cinemalaya Cinco also featured the world premier of Ferdinand John Balanag’s documentary, Walking the Waking Journey, about a Tibetan monk on the border of Tibet, Nepal, and India, and his work with poor children in the Himalayas. The movie accompanies him in his trek to reunite with the children he has helped who have promised to do their share in alleviating the poverty of their communities.

Although the documentary appears unrealized, Walking is notable since it was filmed by an all-Filipino crew and production. The Filipino filmmakers were in fact the first Filipinos to reach that remote portion of the Himalayas. For the stamina and fighting spirit of the Filipinos, the documentary deserves to be seen and appreciated.

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