On International Philippine Cinematic Milestones

images (22)“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

A country’s cinema is a symbol of identity which represents the whole populace’ thriving potentials; its aspirations and its desire to institute global connections. The movie industry is a voice declaring that somewhere in this planet, are artistically conscious creatures armed with endowments set to participate within human race’s common interests. It is my honour to share these significant victories of the Philippine film industry.

The Philippine cinematic industry whether they are independently produced continuously reaps distinctive international citations drawing the Filipino nation’s artistry in the world map. These brilliant Filipino people’s potentials in the motion picture industry vary from screenplay writing, film editing, best film acting, film making, directing to cinematography gaining recognitions in the international race. These are manifested by the entries of Filipino films that are highly regarded in international competitions as results of rigorous screening by worldwide acclaimed connoisseurs in the field of motion pictures as well as in the performing arts.

In 2008, the 58th Berlin Film Festival featured six independent Filipino films. Consequently, many Filipinos reaped awards. This is a relentless sign that the modern day evolution of the Philippine movies from national isolation to worldwide acknowledgement thrives intensified by the emergence of independent film makers that add to set records of the country’s cinema into worldwide credits marking the 21st century Filipino film industry’s contemporary age. It was the same year, when Brilliant Mendoza’s Tirador received a Caligari Award, an honor bestowed to innovative films projecting worthy themes. In 2009, Jaclyn Jose won the best supporting performer in a female role in the Asian Film Award for her part in Serbis.

Earlier in 2013, the Philippines dominated the 1st ASEAN International Film Festival. The winning categories proclaimed were Best Male Performer bagged by Bugoy Carino, in the movie, Alagwa. The Best Supporting Performance by a Female Actor is the veteran Anita Linda while Alessandra de Rossi received the Best Performance by a Female Actor under the same movie, Sta. Nina which also bestowed the Best Director Award to Emmanuel Quindo Palo for his Best Picture in a drama category. In addition, The Kidnappers of Ronnie Lazaro received the Best Picture in a comedy category. On March 2013, veteran actor Eddie Garcia won the Best Performance by a Male Actor for his outstanding act in Bwakaw during the 7th Asian Film Awards held in Hong Kong. On July 2013, Joel Torre was privileged for the Best Actor recognition for his spectacular performance in the film, OTJ (On the Job) at the 17th Puchon International Film Festival held in South Korea. In the film, OTJ (On the Job) alongside with the major awards, the film too got the Jury’s Choice Prize. On September 2013, Filipino Child Star Barbara Miguel was praised with Female Performer Award for her portrayal in Nuwebe at the Harlem International Film Festival held in New York City.

In 2014, Mikhail Red’s “Rekorder” earned the Excellent Young Director Award in the Gwangju International Film Festival in Gwangju, South Korea.It was also earlier on September 2014 when this film offered the Best Male Performance by an Actor award to Allen Dizon at the 9th Harlem International Film Festival in New York City. This lucky year also bestowed Vilma Santos the Best Performance by a Female Actor credit for her role in Ekstra during the Dhaka International Film Festival held in Bangladesh. On October 2014, the New York Film Festival gave Best Actor recognition to Jake Cuenca for his part in Mulat and,Best Actress Appreciation to Liza DiƱo for her character in ‘In Nomine Matris’ in Manhattan, NYC. Diane Ventura, became the Best Director Award for the same movie. On November 2014, the Philippine House of Representative pleased writer and director Jason Paul Laxamana whose film, Magkakabaung won the Best Asian Film Award for the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) at the 3rd Hanoi International Film Festival in Vietnam. Allen Dizon, too attained the Best Actor Award for this film.

On February 2015, Aiko Melendez collected the Best Performance by a Female Role in the Foreign Language Film category during the 7th International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema in London, England. On February 2015, Filipino independent film Director Francis Xavier Pasion acquired the Grand Prize Award at the 15th Tokyo Filmex festival for his work, Bwaya in Japan. March 2015 was the moment for Richard Gomez to grab the Best Actor honor for his film, The Janitor at the 35th Oporto International Film Festival in Portugal. By April 2015’s, Asian International Film Festival in Malaysia, Filipino awardees captured the scene. The Best director was offered to Joseph Laban for his movie, Nuwebe while the Best Actress went to Cherie Gil for the movie, Sonata. Best Editing was bestowed to Benjamin Tolentino for the film, Bendor. The ASEAN Spirit Award went to the film, Purok 7.It was also on May 15, 2015 that the film of Perci Intalan, Dementia was awarded three recognitions at the Saint-Tropez International Film Festival in France for it captured the Best Foreign Language Film, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor in a Foreign Film for Nora Aunor and Emilio Garcia, respectively. Also, on May 16, 2015, Roderick Cabrido’s “Children’s Show” received the grand prize in the Asia-Pacific Young Filmmakers Awards at the Gwangju International Film Festival set in South Korea. Additionally, it can be recalled that this movie aside from its successes in May this year formerly attained other significant international awards last year in varied categories which were Special Jury Prize in the Orient Express Section of the Oporto International Film Festival in Portugal, Special Jury Prize, Grand Jury Award for Best Screenplay and Emerging Filmmaker Award at the Fantastic Cinema Festival of the Film Society of Little Rock in Arkansas.

World Premieres Film Festival Philippines was celebrated on June 29, 2015 known currently as the most prestigious international film festival in the Philippines, came out with the Best Picture and a first 1st Prize credit entitled, Ang Kubo Sa Kawayanan, a film directed by Alvin Yapan. On July 11, 2015, Best Feature Film, Mana by director Gabby Fernandez and Best Actress Cherie Gil were achieved, respectively at the Madrid International Film Festival in Spain. Followed by more winnings on September 2015 when Philippine film artists accomplished two prizes at the Guam International Film Festival. Buboy Villar bagged the Best Achievement in Acting in the movie directed by Paul Soriano, Kid Kulafu. Moreover, the romantic comedy category, That Thing Called Tadhana by Antoinette Jadaone was conferred the Best Narrative Motion Picture. Currently, on May 22, 2016 old-timer actor Jaclyn Jose triumphantly received the Best Actor prize during the 69th Cannes Film Festival for her enactment in the film, “Ma’ Rosa,” held in Cannes, France.

These winnings reveal that Filipinos in the Philippine cinema have their own right time to nationally and internationally prove their worthy crafts in almost all areas of the film making industry. Though these winning moments of Filipino performers are not exhaustive list to present its entirety, these reflect that indeed, the Philippine cinema has extended a meritorious stage of film making. Performers created milestones in the history of Philippine motion pictures through the international credits they as praiseworthy artists have garnered, not to mention their diverse nominations in varied categories defeating or beaten by other entries. Earlier than what are to be mentioned here, there were film artists who represented the Philippines as winners in different sorts from award-giving bodies overseas. It is best to disclose the latest as triggering factors to remind us of the past triumphs which add to the showcasing of thriving quality works in the Philippine cinema.

Films are expressions of intellectual intelligence since film makers belong to multiple intelligence learners. Films feature inner aspirations and chronicle culture, ingenuities, identities and are perceived as catalysts of world transformations. They are agents of global interactions that civilization has created. A country like the Philippines that perpetually loves the art of film-making will never be isolated from the conglomeration of celluloid literate societies but will always be recognized as a part of the global culture and the arts. Due to Filipinos’ dedication to this genre in the field of Mass Communication, it has nurtured fine artists equipped to showcase their worthy capabilities at par with international standards for promising competitiveness.


The New Mexico Film Industry, a Good Fit for All

images (21)The Motion Picture Association of America regularly reports on the millions of dollars pumped into the New Mexico economy thanks to its robust film industry. Beyond cast and crew pay, the hospitality and tourism sectors see a direct infusion of industry money throughout the year. Local artists, support services and specialists are often tapped to meet very specific needs for productions filming around the state. Textile artist Wynema Chavez and Santa Fe actor Daniel Williams are just two of hundreds of locals who’ve found their niche in movies, television series and new media productions that set up shop or are created right here in New Mexico.

Chavez, who is from Santo Domingo (Kewa) Pueblo, got her start as a costume and wardrobe department staple when word of mouth about her talents as textile designer reached a movie set in need of someone capable of dyeing and distressing fabrics and objects. She was brought in to work on that production, and has worked in the local film industry full-time since 2010. Her credits include Wild Hogs, Terminator: Salvation, The Book of Eli, Breaking Bad, The Lone Ranger, Longmire, and many more. “The industry has done some amazing things for me personally and professionally,” she says. “Whenever a film from NM is released, it creates a sense of pride for the people who worked on it, our families, friends and the state in general. There are so many aspects to film and it touches so many lives. I enjoy when films partner with our communities. They show future generations they can work in our industry too.”

After 20 plus years as a classroom teacher, actor Daniel Williams says, “I chose to step away from the increasing administrative pressure on teachers to focus on testing and administrative agendas to embrace my own dreams of acting and, hopefully, a more prosperous lifestyle for my family.” Now, just three years into working in the film industry, by utilizing his past experiences as an EMT, retired military serviceman and teacher, Daniel is in high demand for his wide range of character portrayals in front of the camera. In addition to his work in over 70 student films, feature films and indie productions, his teaching career lives on behind the scenes as a set teacher. Daniel goes on to say, “I love the film industry and the very tangible hope that it offers to New Mexicans and their families.”

Productions big and small are consistently booking area studios and filming locations, with summer being a particularly busy season for state’s film business. The sound stages at Santa Fe Studios, Garson Studios at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and Bonanza Creek Ranch are churning out movies and series. Both Albuquerque Studios and I-25 Studios in Albuquerque are booked with multiple crews, filming shows for NBC, the El Rey Network, the CW and AMC. Santa Fe Studios is home to a new western mini-series entitled Godless for Netflix, produced by acclaimed filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, while season five of the network’s hit series Longmire wraps up its season in the area. Both cities and other areas around the state are also playing host to the third installment of the Wolverine movie franchise, starring Hugh Jackman.

The Problem With Movies and How to Solve Them

download (45)Modern movies are a glorious thing, but they are also rife with problems. Modern movies are falling into a set of weird choices, and odd habits that can make watching movies into a sort of nightmare. Since there are so many problems with movies I decided to tackle two of them here, and we will revisit this issue in another article.

The first problem I have is poor audio mixing. What do I mean by this? Let’s say you open up your mailbox and you have a couple movies from Netflix sitting there (I almost made this example driving to Blockbuster, but then I remembered it was 2016). You pop in the Blu-Ray/ DVD into your player of choice and you sit back and you have to turn the volume down because there a lot of explosions and such. Then people start talking and you have to find the remote because they might as well be whispering! Then another explosion and now you’re deaf because the damn thing was so ear piercingly loud. This can be annoying. Hell it’s one of easiest ways to take me out of a movie, to be honest. So why does this happen? Well when the audio for movies is mixed, they mix it for a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound setup because that is the optimal way to watch a movie. You see, in 5.1 surround sound each speaker has its own job. The center speaker handles dialogue, the 2 side speakers are for explosions and “bwaam” noises in Christopher Nolan movies, the subwoofer is for “dat bass”, and lastly the 2 (or 4 if you have 7.1) satellite speakers are for the surround effects. That’s really cool and all, but I am not in a position to buy a 5.1 surround sound setup. I am a very poor college student who can only afford to eat ramen noodles 4 times a week (The other times I eat the cardboard the ramen came in. I have a sad life). I set up my dad’s stereo from like the 80’s to be my “hi-fi” audio setup which replaces my TV’s stereo sound with a slightly less awful stereo sound. So when the DVD/Blu-Ray player outputs a 5.1 signal, my poor stereo speakers can only replicate the 2 front side speakers. This is why explosions are so loud. The dialogue is going to a non-existent center speaker, which is why it comes out so quiet.

So what’s the solution? Add two dialogue tracks. One mixed in good super old fashioned stereo and the other mixed in the fancy pants 5.1/7.1 goodness. This way I can set the volume to a comfortable volume, and leave it there. This may sound like a super easy solution, but I would hazard a guess that mixing audio is a very difficult task, and not one easily undertaken. However I think that it’s well worth it and shows that movie studios are willing to go the extra mile for those who still want to watch their favorite movies, but maybe aren’t the most well off.

Well, we have done an audio problem, So let’s finish this article with a visual problem. This is probably the two biggest problems I have modern movies today. Shaky Cam and jump cuts. For those unfamiliar with shaky cam as a concept, I am sorry that I have to be the one who has to tell you about it. Basically it’s the worst form of visual storytelling imaginable. That’s not the most telling description, is it? OK, so shaky cam is exactly what it sounds like. It’s basically the director telling the cameraman to shake the camera as hard as they can. This is in order to make the action look frantic. Sounds stupid right, but it’s a real thing. The problem with shaky cam is that it is made worse by terrible, quick, jumpy editing. This is also just what it sounds like. It is the use of a million and a half different cuts in order to convey frantic action. However in reality, it often make it so that the scene is impossible to understand. These are just the tools of the incredibly lazy. The use of these two tools in conjunction makes a movie’s action scenes a chore to watch, and impossible to understand. You have to actively try to piece together when the actors are being hit, because the shot never actually shows it. You hear a flurry of sound effects, and you see a blurry mess of hands and faces, but it’s just audio and visual garbage that the director is trying to pass off as incredible action.

The solution to this problem is actually pretty simple. Hire better directors. Directors that are good at their jobs will make the action look good without the use of cheap tricks and quick editing. There are fantastic directors when it comes to filming action. Take the Wachowski siblings. Sure, they have made a couple stinkers in the last couple years, but the first Matrix movie is incredibly well directed. There are uses of wide shots, so we so exactly what is going on, there’s just the right amount of slow motion so we really feel it when characters get hit. The score is used perfectly, so when the hero gets hit hard, the music slows down and gets quieter. The Subway scene in the matrix encapsulates all of that.

Contrast this from Alex Cross. The camera is literally just shaking. You don’t see the hits connect. You see the main character hit the villain and then after a cut you see the villain react. This is probably to cover up the fact that the actors were not properly choreographed.

If you can get a director who knows how to film an action scenes, as well as who knows what he wants the actors to do, and how to choreograph them to do that, then you don’t need terrible shaky cam to cover up anything. You don’t need jump edits because you’ll want the audience to see your work.

There you have it. These are the 2 biggest problems I see with movies as of right now. I will come back to do another article on 2 more problems with movies.

Debbie Harry and the Rise of the No Wave Film Movement

images (20)It was at the edge of the wire, the reign of Nixon had finally died but the fiery trail of rage and young blood he had left behind was stained across the American soil. We had already fallen witness to the Vietnam War, The assassination of Dr. King, Robert Kennedy and the skillful termination of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers.

New York was now near bankruptcy and debauchery, proudly taking on it’s new title as The Wild, Wild West.

The shattered poster children of a proper American Democracy had flown too close to the sun, and as Nixon and Ford quickly burned their wings to ash, they dropped down back into the city rubble.

The streets were now owned by these fallen creatures, cameras replaced guns and film became more powerful than any bullet. A mad wave of genius and loving creativity had emerged out of the burned out rubble of the lower east side, a hidden minority of gathered survivors declaring their existence.

After the spark Andy Warhol had left in the underground film community, young directors needed a new direction to look at, the next step. The No Wave Film movement was born. A new narrative for the doomed generation, with permission to be as belligerent and technically false, the purpose and message it carried was much higher than any level of skill or education.

After Warhol came a new wave of young directors such as Vivienne Dick, Sarah Driver, Becky Johnson and Amos Poe, who became a loud voice for the No Wave film movement, helping create the cultural shift from Art based films to a much more narrative approach. This resulted in a new genre which heavily reflected the times and lives of these young artists, a life in which walking home was like going to war… and creating was the most effective weapon of self defense.

Films like Smithereens, Vivienne Dicks She Had Her Gun Already and Guilerre Talks showed a high intensity of free cinematography and narrative that showcased the time in a very straight forward yet artistic manner.

Amos Poe’s: The Foreigner is, in retrospect, a highlight of the decade as an example of just how far one can go with nothing infront of them but a Super 8 camera and New York City.

Shunned from the films, was the manipulated use of emotion and communication used in commercial pictures, sometimes leading to so-so acting performances and last minute dialogue, but this was a low price to pay for the pure and honest quality that Hollywood couldn’t have no matter how hard they tried, an act of Liberation.

A crossover began happening in film, music and art. The Painters were in bands, the musicians were painting, technique was the silent killer of absolute creative freedom.

Many Painters, Musicians and Filmmakers were falling prey to the intense creative freedom that was going on within the melting pot of the crumbling streets of downtown New York, and Debbie Harry was just one of them. As Blondie slowly rose from the ashes of the city rubble, music was not her only pillar of success, as Blondie began to gain momentum, Harry appeared in a number of underground films including: Amos Poe’s: The Foreigner, Unmade Beds, another collaboration with Poe, to more commercial rolls, like, Marcus Reichert’s Union City.

All of which, demonstrated Harry’s versatile ability as an artist, as her rolls, along with her musical success, began to enlarge as time went on, eventually leading to a captivating performance alongside James Woods in David Cronenberg’s Videodrome.

The Foreigner follows secret agent Max Menace as he awaits further instructions regarding a new case, having just arrived in New York City, wandering the streets and getting into conflicts with strange characters, but never ultimately discovering why he was sent there.

One of these strange interactions can be observed between Max and a beautiful stranger portrayed by Harry.

Stumbling through an alleyway, Max is approached by a young woman, asking him with a charming embrace for a cigarette. After fulfilling her request, we are treated with a unique performance by Harry, as she sings a beautiful French tune into the lens with a cigarette in her mouth. And as sweet as the moment is, it is gone as Max carries on down the alleyway, leaving the unique interaction behind him.

Unmade Beds introduces Rico, A.K.A Little Rico, a photographer living in 1970’s New York during the ‘New Wave’ who keeps to himself in his own world, on the search for a reality to live out his dreams. He trusts no one, hiding behind his camera like a loaded weapon. But when he falls in love, the world he has created for himself slowly begins to crack and crumble.

As Harry stumbles into the room where Rico sits peacefully at his throne, asking gently: “You ready to take my picture? we are instantly greeted by the intoxicating aroma of Harry that must have had every independent artist dreaming of working with her. She dives into a beautiful trance, singing Sweet Thing as the camera observes from a high angle.

She carries her words like silk as her legs hang over her chair, afterwards darting out of frame as casually as she entered, this is truly a beautiful scene that can leave a mark on any viewer.

Union City follows a young couple living in a crummy apartment in downtown New York. The overly obsessed husband becomes so fixated on who is stealing their milk that he looses connection with his neglected wife who starts to have ideas of her own.

Harry is simply beautiful in every scene of this twisted story, displaying the innocence of a stray dog as she fights with her insane husband. Harry steals the show in many ways, giving a very pure and playful performance that showcased the essence of the underground film movement of 1970’s New York.

Harry went on to star in over 60 film rolls, proving that her fine skills could be showcased in many forms. Alongside fellow Music/Film wizard David Bowie, Debbie will go down as one of the most diverse artists this world has seen, putting her footprint in one of the most important movements in film history and becoming a trailblazer in the world of pop and rock and roll.

If you walk through the streets of N.Y.C today, you’re lucky to catch a glimpse of the way things once were; the streets are now owned by fashion victims and the infamous venues that once housed these trailblazers are now buried deep beneath the face of a new generation. But if you look closely, way out on the horizon, you may catch a glimpse of one of these trailblazers, waiting in the shadows for a chance to bring it all back down again.