Cinemalaya XI: Shorts ‘A’ | Movie Review

Unlike Cinemalaya’s previous years, this year’s Cinemalaya XI, with the slogan ‘Broadening Horizons’, showcases 10 short films in competition. They are divided into 2 sets, namely Shorts ‘A’ and Shorts ‘B’. Today, I will be reviewing Shorts ‘A’, which consists of Apasol by Ryanne Murcia, Gatilyo ng Baril by Glenmark C. Domoral & Eero Yves Francisco, Sanctissima by Kenneth Dagatan, Kyel by Arvin Belarmino, and Nenok by Milo Tolentino.

Apasol is about a couple’s last afternoon together, before one leaves the country. While the visuals were stunning and the movie had a very deep message, one big problem that the film had was that there was nothing much going on. Within the estimated 15-20 minute runtime, you’re given shots of them sitting by the shore, taking pictures of the sea, standing by the river, and chasing each other in the fields, and yet the story doesn’t really move forward. Writer and Director (and actor) Ryanne Murcia clearly has talent, but the screenplay lets it all fall apart.

My Rating: 6/10

Gatilyo ng Baril is interesting, as it tries to explain the events leading to the attempted assassination of former First Lady Imelda Marcos in 1972. It is shot in black-and-white, and is interspersed with actual footage from the attempted assassination. And while all this is semi-fictional, Glenmark C. Domoral & Eero Yves Francisco crafted a story that could actually be believable. One thing I’d like to note though, is how unconvincing the characters are in the film, as their acting is stiff and unnatural, especially for the woman who played Mrs. Estrella. The concept is interesting, but the actors’ stiff delivery lets it down.

My Rating: 7/10

Sanctissima, I believe, is the best of Shorts ‘A’, and it’s also my favorite. It tells the story of an old woman who happens to be an abortionist who performs her abortions in her home. Without spoiling much, the film is a bit disgusting, horrifying, and at the same time, wonderfully disturbing. The use of traditional special effects is top-notch, the story is well-crafted, and there are some funny moments in there, too. The cinematography is great, as well. Kenneth Dagatan has the vision and talent that’s sorely lacking in Philippine horror these days.

My Rating: 10/10

Kyel has an intriguingly vague premise, as seen in its trailer. There is clearly a lot of potential here, but with no clear narrative in this film, and with the confusing conclusion, it comes off as slightly disappointing. There is an interesting concept within the film, but the execution really lets it down.

My Rating: 7/10

Nenok revolves around a church sweeper and a homeless child who collects left-over donations from the churchgoers. Of all the short films in Shorts ‘A’, this is the only one that veers away from the deep, dark themes of the rest of the entries, as it is light and playful. This film is really heartwarming and funny at the same time. The use of comic-style though bubbles really gives it a different feel.

My Rating: 8/10

Overall, the Shorts ‘A’ entries were OK, but it’s Sanctissima and Nenok that stood out for me. I’ll be posting my reviews for the Shorts ‘B’ set tomorrow.

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