Mindanao films in focus at Diwa Film Showcase in Seattle

Diwa2Nine short films, six documentaries, two video installations, and one full-length project by Filipino filmmakers based in the Philippines and the US will be shown at the Diwa Film Showcase from June 6 to 7 at the Seattle Center as part of the 2015 Pagdiriwang Festival.

With a special focus on the Mindanao region in accordance with the theme of Pagdiriwang, the biggest festival of Filipino arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest, the film showcase aims to celebrate freedom and independence in filmmaking as well as help revitalize the art of film within the Filipino American community in Seattle. This will be held in addition to the usual programs of art, dance and music lined up in commemoration of Philippine independence on June 12.

The Diwa Film Showcase, which is organized and curated by the Kalipayan Collective (Adrian Alarilla, Cynthia Alexander, Julian Blake, Renee Opinion, and Yul Garrido), celebrates the Filipino spirit in cinema, wherever it is, by exhibiting films made by Filipinos.

Mabuhay ang PilipinasMabuhay Ang Pilipinas (Long Live the Philippines) by Bor Ocampo, Distance Between by RJ Lozada, Bibingka by Kay Cuajunco, The Dreamweaver by Jedd Rommel Diomaro, and The Cotabato Sessions by Joel Quizon form part of Shorts Program 1, which will be shown on June 6 at 11 a.m. and June 7 at 3:15 p.m. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas, a finalist in the short film category of the first CineFilipino Film Festival, is about a promise of love broken by the promise of a good life. Distance Between, a short documentary screened in several Asian American and Asian film festivals in the US, is a personal exploration of fatherhood uniquely seen through the eyes of a sperm donor. Bibingka, a short experimental documentary which premiered last year at the SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco and is part of an exhibit at the Center for Art and Thought in Los Angeles, explores how recipes tell stories of migration and cultural survival through the lens of Filipino foods.

The DreamweaverIn addition, The Dreamweaver, which was part of the official selection to the 2012 Louis Vuitton Journeys Awards, tells the story of a T’boli boy who dreams about Fudalu, the spirit of the abacá hemp, and finds himself on a journey that defies his culture and its traditions while The Cotabato Sessions, a music-meets-cinema collaboration of composer and percussionist Susie Ibarra and Quizon, is a documentary of the musical legacy of National Heritage artist Danongan Kalanduyan and his family in Cotabato City in Mindanao.

Carlo Catu’s Miss Da Ka (I Miss You) and Roberto Reyes Ang’s Tago Nang Tago (Always on the Run), which make up Shorts Program 2, will be screened on June 6 at 4 p.m. and June 7 at 1:15 p.m. The Kapampangan film Miss Da Ka, which won first Honorable Mention for short film and Best Supporting Actress for Estella Sarmiento at the Singkuwento International Film Festival, tells the story of a daughter who wants to forget about the tragic death of her father two decades ago, but her mother still has not moved on. Tago Tago Nang TagoNang Tago, winner of the Best Ensemble Cast in Short Film at the fourth International Film Festival Manhattan in New York last year, is about a man who left his country in search of greener pastures in the US, only to learn that a cunning relative has secretly turned his American dream into a nightmare.

Ang Kapitbahay Ko sa 2014Ang Kapitbahay Ko Sa 2014 (My 2014 Neighbor) by Anya Zulueta and Mang Abe’s Ube by Paolo Bitanga comprise Shorts Program 3, which will be shown on June 6 at 4:30 p.m. and June 7 at 1:45 p.m. With the Philippines being a global social networking capital, Ang Kapitbahay Ko Sa 2014 goes beyond depicting multiple-screen interactions at a time when the friends we have are the ones we see on a monitor or Mang Abe's Ubetalk to at the tap of a finger, and explores the issue of social dynamics through a screen, whether it ultimately makes these interactions mean any less. Mang Abe’s Ube (The Farmer and the Glowing Green Shell), which has been selected to the Nitehawk Shorts Festival, is a modern-day folktale about an ube farmer who is trying to protect his magical source of success from corporate crooks.

Kusina ni ClaraSher Bautista’s Commune, Nikki FerriolsKusina ni Clara (Clara’s Kitchen) and Will Sim Garcia’s Gamu-gamo (Embers), which are part of Shorts Program 4, will be screened on June 6 at 5 p.m. and June 7 at 2:15 p.m. Commune, a finalist at the 2015 Tropfest Film Festival in Malaysia, is about a man who finds out that his partner is possibly cheating on him. Kusina ni Clara, a film thesis from the UP Film Institute, tells the story of a teenage girl who is forced to spend a weekend at her Lola Gamu-gamoLucing’s house, with the only way for them communicate is through what the grandmother’s cooking. Gamu-gamo, another film thesis, this time from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Digital Filmmaking program, is a coming-of-age film about two girls who mixed up a pornographic movie with a horror film. The film won awards in the Mexico International Film Festival and Awards student category, UP Cebu’s UPelikula 2015, and CineSB 5inco’s The Chair.

Migkahi E Si Amey Te Uli Ki PadA finalist in GMA News TV’s first Cine Totoo Philippine International Documentary Festival last year, Nef Luczon’s Migkahi E Si Amey Te, ‘Uli Ki Pad’ (Father Said, Let’s Return Home) shows how a tribal community in Bukidnon addresses the issue of succession after the death of their chieftain. The documentary will be shown on June 6 at 12:15 p.m.

WalaiAdjani Arumpac’s Walai (Home) and War is a Tender Thing screen back-to-back on June 6, 1:45 p.m. and 2:45 p.m., respectively, and on the following day at 11 a.m. and 12 noon. Walai, which won Best Regional Entry and second place in the documentary category of the 19th Gawad CCP for Alternative Film and Video in 2007, is an exploration of spaces which prods on the memories of four Muslim women who once lived in the infamous White House in Cotabato City and traces the past through the women’s experience of what has happened in the wrecked home – nostalgia and fear, loss and love, and birth and death.

War is a Tender ThingOn the other hand, War is a Tender Thing, Special Mention awardee at the 2013 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, explores the untold stories of Mindanao in the 1930s, when a land resettlement project led to a massive migration within the country, creating a state-sponsored experiment in forced integration. Without legal documents, the Philippine government gave ancestral Muslim and indigenous peoples’ lands to Christian settlers, resulting to a war that has become the second-longest running conflict in the world.

Together with the short film The Dreamweaver and short documentary The Cotabato Sessions, the documentaries Migkahi E Si Amey Te, ‘Uli Ki Pad,’ Walai, and War is a Tender Thing form the special Focus on Mindanao program to be shown on June 7, 4 p.m.

Purok 7Finally, Carlo Obispo’s Purok 7 (Zone 7), which recently won the ASEAN Spirit Award at the ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards in Malaysia, will be shown on June 7 at 4:30 p.m. The countryside film tells the story of a teenage girl and her younger brother who live by themselves after their mother goes abroad and their father lives with another woman.

The video installations Ugkat (Unearth) by Alyssa Suico and Kamerata by Christian Tablazon will also be part of the film showcase. Ugkat is about unearthing our identity that we have buried in the efforts to level ourselves with cultures that are not our own while Kamerata (camerata or comrade; literally, another person in the room) examines not only the inherent parallel between dream and cinema, and cinema and desire, but also the nature of cinema, desire, language, and memory, through three separate projections of video images on the walls and the intersubjectivity of gaze among its actors and the audience.

The Diwa Film Showcase, originally planned as a video installation to be integrated into the art exhibit, became an official Pagdiriwang event when Alarilla suggested screening independent films by Filipino filmmakers in the loft at the armory near the exhibit’s location.

PagdiriwangPagdiriwang, which provides a venue for Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike to learn about the culture, is a part of Seattle Center Festál series of cultural programs sponsored by the city. The annual festival is an ideal setting for presenting art, craft, song, dance, music, history, literature, film, and culture to promote better understanding of the Filipino cultural heritage.