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Culture Blog: Our Top 5 Cinemalaya 9 FIlms

by Philbert Ortiz Dy
31 Jul 2017 | 2:10 PM

There's just one weekend left of Cinemalaya 9. If you haven't been catching these films, you still have a chance. We've seen everything at this point, and in a fairly strong lineup, a few have emerged to be real standouts.  Here are the films that you absolutely must catch while you still can.

5. Babagwa (dir. Jason Paul Laxamana)

It's a love story set in a world where identity is completely amorphous, where lonely people are putting their hearts out there for imagined lovers, idealized through the abstraction of the Internet. The film's cynical take on modern society makes for cracking, occasionally thrilling cinema. The ending is problematic, but it doesn't completely deflate the overall effect of the film. Watch out for the scene after the credits. Insert your own Avengers joke here.

4. Ekstra (dir. Jeffrey Jeturian)

Jeturian digs his satirical fangs into the all-too-willing flesh of television production. The result is hilarious and often heartbreaking. It's a film about people being treated badly in service of a final product that is inherently ridiculous. Vilma Santos forms the heart and soul of the film, playing a woman who really loves what she does, even if she can't be loved back.

3. Sana Dati (dir. Jerrold Tarog)

Tarog has this habit of taking what ought to be Hollywood endings and turning them into something else. Something better. Something truer. Something ultimately more beautiful. This bittersweet tale of an imperfect love finds verisimilitude in the middle of all the high-strung dramatics of a wedding gone wrong. 

2. Debosyon (dir. Alvin Yapan)

Love and faith intersect in this lyrical exploration of the intersection between religion and superstition, between faith and love. Yapan wields all of his literary might in crafting a stunningly beautiful experience that captures something uniquely Filipino. It's a film that requires patience from its viewers, but the payoff is tremendous.

1. Transit (dir. Hannah Espia)

A remarkable debut. Transit is a film about OFWs in Israel, following a law passed that would the children of migrant workers. The stellar performances from all five of its primary actors would be enough to give this film a recommendation. But it is clever storytelling that really gives the film its dramatic punch. Espia seems to have a real grasp of how little one actually needs to see of a story, smartly holding back on details that would only get in the way of the emotion at play. The film could probably stand to lose the text at the end that explains the advocacy, but otherwise, it is easily one of the best films you'll see this year. Hopefully, its journey doesn't end here in Cinemalaya.