Program Type: 
New Filipino Cinema 2014
June 11, 2014 - June 15, 2014
Screening Room


New Filipino Cinema 2014
Wed, Jun 11–Sun, Jun 15
Curated by Philbert Ortiz Dy and Joel Shepard
Admission: $10 Regular/$8 YBCA Members, Students, Seniors, Teachers

Festival passes available: See all 24 films for one low price!
$80 Regular/$75 YBCA Members
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We return with the third year of New Filipino Cinema! The Philippines is one of the most creative and exciting countries for independent cinema. We present 24 films over five days, and it’s our strongest line-up yet. Like the country itself, which is made up of thousands of little islands, each with its own culture, dialect, and people, New Filipino Cinema covers a vast terrain: from north to south; from documentaries to short works; and from the avant-garde to the big-budget feature.

Co-sponsored by Filipino American Arts Exposition & FACINE (Filipino Arts & Cinema, International). All films are shown digitally, in their original language with English subtitles.

Don’t forget to vote for the audience’s favorite film award!

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  • Opening Night: How to Disappear Completely
    Jun 11, 2014 7:30pm
    Screening Room
    $10 Regular/$8 YBCA Members, Students, Seniors, Teachers

    By Raya Martin
    Director in person
    6:30 PM Reception

    (Trailer) Raya Martin is one of the leading voices of independent Filipino cinema. He takes a radical leap forward with his new film, a portrait of a young woman’s descent into madness. Simultaneously a horror movie, experimental art film, and political allegory, it’s the story of a girl who is obsessed with disappearing. Soon, everything begins to disappear… If you’re wondering why we’re making such a fuss about new Filipino cinema, this is a great place to start—an uncompromising, provocative journey into the heart of darkness. (2013, 79 min)

  • Jungle Love
    Jun 12, 2014 4:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Sherad Anthony Sanchez

    In a steamy, oppressive jungle, several mysterious scenarios unfold. There’s a woman on the run with a stolen baby. A group of off-duty soldiers are on the prowl. And two hipster hikers with their silent guide unleash an ocean of repressed longings. Stories and identities swirl around, melting into each other. We are in an unstable zone, somewhere between reality and dream. In this strange and beautiful film, we witness what can happen when you let go, when you try to escape yourself, and when you venture into the unknown. Contains explicit material. (2012, 86 min)

  • Debosyon
    Jun 12, 2014 6:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Alvin Yapan

    (Trailer) In the wilds of Bicol, where local folklore and religion are often inseparable, a young man falls off a tree and injures himself. A mysterious woman that lives in the woods nurses him back to health. He falls in love with her, but she tells him that their love is impossible. She is a forest spirit, and her heart can belong to no man. Debosyon is an intoxicating exploration of the intersection between love and faith, filtered through scenes of the country’s unique approach to worship and devotion. (2013, 82 min)

  • Sana Dati
    Jun 12, 2014 8:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Jerrold Tarog

    (Trailer) Andrea (Lovi Poe) is getting married today. Or maybe she isn’t. She might be wearing the dress, but she hasn’t really made up her mind. Complicating matters is the arrival of a mysterious guest who shares a connection with her painful past. As her family and friends fret about every detail of the big day, Andrea relives the memories of a past love. Director Jerrold Tarog has a keen ability to subvert expectations, and in Sana Dati, he plays around with the elements of the mainstream romantic comedy, finding the genuine emotion that lies beneath the artifice. (2013, 100 min)

  • Iskalawags
    Jun 13, 2014 2:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Keith Deligero

    (Teaser) “One of the most exciting and original films of the year."—Noel Vera, Critic after Dark. One day in a small peaceful town, seven young punks with a shared love for Filipino action movies go on a quest to find the tree with the biggest papaya in the region. But a plot description doesn’t do justice to this delightfully nuanced new film, cast entirely with non-professional teenage actors. Iskalawags uniquely captures the wonder, the swagger, and the melancholy of adolescence. (2013, 77 min). Preceded by: Happy the Emotional Dog (Happy Ang Emo Nga Iro) by Aldo Nelbert Banaynal; the happy and not-so-happy life of an adorable little pup, told with clay animation. (2013, 15 min)

  • Woman of the Ruins
    Jun 13, 2014 4:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Keith Sicat

    (Trailer) A woman washes up on the shore of an island populated by survivors of an unnamed cataclysm. She is thought to be several things: a miracle, a bad omen, or perhaps a wife thought dead and gone. But the woman has no memories, and she is forced to conform to these roles as she tries to eke out an existence in this unforgiving place. Woman of the Ruins presents a post-apocalyptic vision of a people clinging to old beliefs even as the world crumbles around them. (2013, 109 min)

  • The Bit Player (Ekstra)
    Jun 13, 2014 7:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Jeffrey Jeturian

    Vilma Santos, the legendary grand dame of Philippine cinema, stars in this bittersweet comedy. A clever satire of the telenovela formula, The Bit Player tells the story of a group of extras on a soap opera, as they patiently wait to be cast as anonymous background actors or in tiny speaking roles. At the very bottom of the showbiz hierarchy (working extremely long hours for very little pay), these extras turn out to be far more dedicated to their work than the egotistical, unreliable stars who are highly paid and constantly fawned over. (2013, 111 min)

  • Metro Manilla
    Jun 13, 2014 9:15pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Sean Ellis

    (Trailer) This highly-praised, high-octane thriller won the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award and was the UK’s official submission to the Academy Awards. Seeking a better life, Oscar Ramirez and his family move from the poverty stricken rice fields of the north to the ultra-megalopolis of Manila. They immediately fall prey to sordid characters who take advantage of them. And when Oscar takes a job as an armored truck driver, life turns very, very dangerous. Though it is not technically a Filipino film (it’s a British production), we present Metro Manila for its uniquely atmospheric outsider’s perspective of the dark side of the capital city, and the superb performances of its all-Filipino cast. (2013, 114 min)

  • Oro, Plata, Mata - The Restored Version
    Jun 14, 2014 12:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Peque Gallaga

    Gold. Silver. Death. This 1982 masterpiece traces the lives of two affluent Negrense families as they’re forced to flee their estates with the arrival of the Japanese. The word “epic” is rarely applied to Filipino films, but no other word so accurately describes the scale and ambition with which Oro, Plata, Mata operates. It is the massive tale of a country during wartime, tearing itself up from within, and entering a new age, having seen the very worst that humanity can offer. One of the most famous Filipino films in history, it was fully restored in 2012, and now the film’s scale can be properly appreciated. (1982, 194 min)

  • Basket Case: Short Films Over the Edge
    Jun 14, 2014 4:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    The films in this program of new shorts from all over the country have one thing in common: the power to provoke. Some are edgy, some are funny, and some are alarming. They all investigate extremes of human experience.

    Taya by Adi Bontuyan (8 min)
    Victor by Jarell M. Serencio (15 min)
    How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Age Zero to Five by Khavn De La Cruz (5 min)
    RB (Rugby Boys) by Manny Montelibano (12 min)
    Curiosity Killed the Cat (Si El Curiosidad Mata Con El Gato) by Aedrian Araojo (10 min)
    Ramil Might Be Outside (‘Timora Talli Apuera Si Ramil) by Roberto Oquias, Jr. (9 min)
    Kapawa: Mystery of Light by Noel de Leon (9 min)
    The End of the Beginning (Sa Wakas) by Nica Santiago (16 min)
    (84 min total running time)

  • Transit
    Jun 14, 2014 7:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Hannah Espia
    Director in person

    (Trailer) In 2009, the Israeli government enacted a law that sought to deport the children of migrant workers. Transit dramatizes the effect of that law on the small population of Overseas Filipino Workers in Tel Aviv, who must now try to hide their children from authorities; children who have known no other home but Israel. This stunning debut by director Hannah Espia uses shifting perspectives to paint a cumulative portrait of quiet tragedy, with each perspective revealing a new aspect of life in a land that one can’t really call home. Transit was the Philippines’ official submission to the Academy Awards. (2013, 93 min)

  • Anita’s Last Cha-Cha (Ang Huling Cha-Cha Ni Anita)
    Jun 14, 2014 9:15pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo
    Director in person

    (Trailer) In the boldest Filipino film of the year, 12-year old Anita falls in love with Pilar, a much-older new woman in town. This unconventional relationship is handled with great sensitivity and humor. The film explores the awkwardness of pre-adolescence, and the incongruous pace at which sexuality develops within the mind and the body. Juxtaposed against the innocence of Anita’s love for Pilar are the very painful realities of adult relationships. A stunning feature debut. (2013, 111 min)

  • No End in Sight (Walay Tumoy Na Punterya)
    Jun 15, 2014 12:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Cierlito E. Tabay

    This unsettling documentary provides an intimate view of the world of illegal backyard gun making in Danao City, Cebu. This region of the Philippines is notorious for the activity, and there are hundreds of gun-making workshops hidden in the mountains and sugarcane fields. The makers fashion pistols, rifles, and even submachine guns out of scrap metal, often using only basic hand tools, and then sell them on the black market. (2012, 83 min)

  • Pascalina
    Jun 15, 2014 2:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Pam Miras

    Life in Metro Manila can be monstrous. So monstrous, in fact, that one really ought to consider just becoming a real monster. This is the sentiment that fuels Pascalina, which takes its titular heroine through a very terrible day in the big city, before she learns of a supernatural inheritance that will change everything. Shot in grainy, claustrophobic Digital Harinezumi (a format which replicates the look of old Super 8 home movies), the movie captures all the rough edges of Metro Manila, fully revealing the monsters that lurk at every corner. Winner of Best Picture at Cinema One Originals Film Festival. (2012, 96 min)

  • Rigodon
    Jun 15, 2014 4:30pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Erik Matti

    Movies about infidelity have become a hot property in the Philippines in the last few years. Most of these movies, however, have had little ambition beyond having a dramatic confrontation between wronged women and having them trade over-the-top lines while threatening to scratch each other’s eyes out. But Rigodon, from director Erik Matti (On the Job), embraces the darkness of the genre as it plumbs the psychological depths of three very broken characters. (2012, 85 min)

  • Closing Night: Thy Womb
    Jun 15, 2014 7:00pm
    Screening Room
    $10 regular/$8 YBCA Member, Senior, Student, Teacher

    By Brillante Mendoza
    6 PM Reception

    (Trailer) Finally! The wait is over for Brillante Mendoza’s outstanding film starring superstar Nora Aunor. A story of unconditional love, the film dramatizes the nature of sacrifice through the dilemma of a Bajau midwife coping with the irony of her own infertility. One of the most fascinating communities in the southern Philippines, the Bajaus are native sea-dwellers. So-called “sea gypsies,” they are highly skilled at building boats, fishing, pearl diving, and mat weaving. Thy Womb is a poetic saga of island life, trapped between the devil of passion and the deep blue sea of tradition. The film will also screen June 27-29. (2012, 106 min)

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Curator Statement

Several local pundits came out of the woodwork in 2013 to declare the year the start of a new Golden Age of Filipino Cinema. They point to the films that flew out to Cannes, the ones that made a mark on the international scene. Lav Diaz wowed audiences with his epic Norte, the End of History (coming to YBCA June 19-22). Erik Matti’s crime drama On the Job found international distribution, and now has an American remake in production. They point to the local independent scene, which has expanded through the establishment of two new grant-giving festivals. 2013 saw a lot of great films come out of the Philippines, and there exists some need among certain groups to validate that greatness by labeling it. The current movement is constantly being held up against the legacy of Brocka, Bernal, and the rest of the Philippine New Wave. It’s good, some would say, but is it as good as Brocka?

Yes? No? Does it matter? These discussions tend to discount the simple fact that times have changed, and that Filipino cinema is evolving in ways that the great social realists of the New Wave could never have envisioned.

What has been assembled in this program is an eclectic mix of films, representing as wide a view of the current landscape as possible. It is difficult to capture the essence of Filipino cinema in a single program; the country is simply too strange and varied to really be summed up. But here we present films from first-time filmmakers, veterans of the mainstream, international festival darlings, local iconoclasts, masters, and even one non-Filipino. Hopefully, a much more representative sample of the current madness in the country than one would likely get from any other venue.

This is really what makes Filipino cinema so special now. While hanging out at Cinemalaya, for example, one might start the day with the relatively mainstream romantic strains of Jerrold Tarog’s Sana Dati, and end it in the dreamlike embrace of Debosyon, Alvin Yapan’s examination of the intersection between love and faith. Both films are essentially love stories, but they take wildly different paths, and end up with two very distinct portraits of love in the Filipino context. Somewhere in between, one might catch industry veteran Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra, which casts one of the country’s most legendary actresses in a satire of the current mainstream movie industry. The same festival also featured Transit, the stunning Overseas Filipino Worker drama from first-time director Hannah Espia.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Cinemalaya is just one small part of what is becoming the most diverse cinema in the world. Cinema One Original’s Iskalawags, Pascalina, and Woman of the Ruins represent a spirit of experimentation that’s unique to that particular grant system. Sigrid Bernardo’s daring feature debut Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita had been rejected several times by the various festivals, and could only make its debut in the newly minted CineFilipino festival. And Raya Martin’s How to Disappear Completely is probably too edgy for any local festival. In the mainstream, a few directors have been subverting its tools to expose the darkness that exists beneath tired premises.

Regional cinema continues to develop. More classics are being restored. More films are being made about the Philippines and its people. There are still many problems that need to be addressed, but I think one could safely say that it’s an exciting time to be a Filipino film fan.

Are we in a golden age? Yes. No. It doesn’t matter. That’s for historians to decide later on. It’s much more important to simply focus on what’s being created—to talk about all the films, not just the ones that supposedly live up to the standards set by previous generations. This movement does not have a singular voice, and may not be a movement at all. It is messy and diverse, coming from all corners of this dysfunctional archipelago. And it’s thrilling. Far more thrilling than the term “golden age” could ever indicate.

—Philbert Ortiz Dy


In early November 2013, the whole world watched events unfold in the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated parts of the eastern Visayas. Over 6,000 people were killed, and bodies are still being located. Though this typhoon was particularly extreme, natural disasters are common in the Philippines.

Just a few weeks earlier, there was a massive earthquake in the Bohol region. It was the deadliest earthquake in the country in decades, and the energy unleashed is said to be the equivalent of 32 Hiroshima bombs. In both disasters, the government’s response was widely criticized as too little and too late. Once again, the international media presented a lot of heartwarming stories about the “resiliency” of the Filipino people. And this characteristic is undoubtedly true of Filipinos in general. Many long for the day, however, when the country has a government that is better prepared for these inevitable disasters, and makes the welfare of its citizens more of a priority.

Amid this volatility in the natural landscape, we have an extraordinary new batch of films. As Philbert explains, many are calling this a new “golden age” for Filipino cinema. The reality is, as usual, quite a bit more complicated. But indeed, it’s been a truly amazing year. We could have shown a lot more films, and had to make some tough decisions to squeeze things into five days.

Some structural problems continue to plague Filipino cinema—especially in the areas of distribution and exhibition. The Philippines has a unique system for producing independent cinema. There are several film festivals (including Cinemalaya, Cinema One Originals, and upstart CineFilipino) which distribute grants to filmmakers to produce films—and then the festival consists of premieres of all the films which received funding.

The catch is that the grants only fund the production of the films. There is generally no money or plan for distribution for the film after the local festival premiere. And the filmmakers, who often have exhausted their own funds and the goodwill of all their friends, are ill-suited to take this on. Occasionally a film creates a buzz, and receives a local theatrical engagement (rarely successful). A handful will get shown in some international festivals. But there isn’t an organized structure for advocating these films to the international market. There are many good intentions, but very little action. And so most of the films just sit, tucked away somewhere, waiting…

That said, I’m confident in stating that this year’s program is our strongest ever. I’m thrilled that we’re kicking things off with Raya Martin’s radiant and disturbing How to Disappear Completely, which I hope finds the cult audience it richly deserves. It took over a year of bugging him and even a meeting at his studio in Manila, but we finally persuaded Brillante Mendoza to let us screen Thy Womb, which has never really had an official US premiere. And we’ve got at least one from-out-of-nowhere UFO, Sherad Sanchez’s hallucinatory and erotic Jungle Love.

Regional cinema is now where a lot of the action is in the Philippines (“regional” means films produced outside of Manila). We’ve worked hard to make sure this work gets represented, and we have numerous films from the Visayas and Mindanao. Of special note, we have some compelling new work from war-torn Zamboanga, one of the most dangerous areas in the country. There is (unfortunately) only one feature-length documentary in the program, but it’s a great one: a portrait of the underground gunmaking industry in Cebu.

New Filipino Cinema is the most comprehensive portrait of contemporary film from the Philippines held anywhere in the world. Take some vacation days and join us June 11 through 15, as we take a deep dive into the cinema of this remarkable country.

—Joel Shepard

Thank you very much/Salamat po: Misha Anissimov, Amiel Alday, Ronald Arguelles, Teddy Co, Oggs Cruz, Keith Deligero, Chuck Gutierrez, Pia de Leon, Grace Lopez, Maria Isabel Lopez, Romano Macapagal, Erik Matti, Brillante Mendoza, Manny Montelibano, Alleluia Panis, Al Perez, Irene Rada, Epee Rafanan, Sherad Sanchez, Hobart Savior, Kathlene Sison, Millette Soto, Katrina Tan, Max Tessier, Mauro Feria Tumbocon Jr. & Chin Vader.

YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
Koret Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.