The Cinema One Originals Film Festival is celebrating fifteen years of pushing the envelope of telling bravely original narratives in big ways. This year, they’re celebrating the “young, authentic, brave, cool, and inclusive” with their roster of deeply compelling stories. Here’s your ultimate guide to so you can start cancelling your plans next week for the film that could just about turn your 2019 around.
Directed by Victor Villanueva
Starring the disarmingly magnetic Alessandra de Rossi, Lucid asks the question of whether our dreams are better than reality. Ann Cruz (de Rossi) live through the droll of daily life in the grey city, but escapes to a world where she controls everything about it as she sleeps.
Everything is fine until she encounters another lucid dreamer in her own realm, who dares her to kick things up a notch by going full Ruby Sparks, sans the male god complex. It seems like an exciting exercise on the romantic speculative fantasy narrative, but what we’re waiting for is how it’s going to wrap up its characters’ arcs without getting too cheesy about reality/cognition, and how it can maintain its strong concept and premise til the credits roll.
Directed by Kevin Dayrit
Coming back to the festival from his previous wins in 2012 for the wazakumentary Catnip, Kevin Dayrit brings us a vampire thriller this year starring Lauren Young, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Sarah Carlos, Anna Luna. It’s obviously a modern-day take on vampire culture, where it swaps eerie candlelight for flushed red neon, grand pipe organs for the funky guitar riffs of IV of Spades, and Nosferatu archetypes for streetwear-sporting vampires getting high on “red meth” in the shadows.
We’re hoping it can follow Taika Waititi’s What We Do In The Shadows in the poignant balancing of improv comedy and the supernatural, and can modernize and localize its world-building without us thinking about the fact that our lower mythology is more about the shape-shifting aswang than the fang-toothed vampire.
Directed by Giancarlo Abrahan
High school reunions when you’re a thirty-year year old gay man is where the past and the present not only collide, but also crash and burn, only to ignite once more. The film skirts around the theme of ghosting and being ghosted, both by lovers and our friends.
In story that will no doubt resonate with anyone who’s dealing with a Jupiter Return, we’re guided along what comes after heartaches and into what could-haves with our long-gones by a colorful ensemble of characters (plus a cameo by Juan Miguel Severo and Adrienne Vergara). Watching this will definitely hurt no matter the ending.
Directed by JE Tiglao
Aside from the previous parental guidance rating debacle it had with the MTRCB last week, Metamorphosis stands out as a queer coming-of-age drama that puts those of intersex at the forefront. Adam, a 14-year-old born with both female and male genitals, finds out one day that he’s gotten his period. Starring a fresh-faced Gold Aceron alongside industry veterans such as Ricky Davao and Yayo Aguila, Metamorphosis could be the Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros of this generation.
Its goal is clear and maintains a simple narrative so it doesn’t distract from its message. We’re hoping it can do justice to its main character in that it presents the reality of living as an intersex person without ending on a bleak note, especially since the main theme of the film is about change (judging by its title).
Yours Truly, Shirley
Directed by Nigel Santos
Regine Velasquez dazzles us with her performance as Shirley, a 50-year-old widow who convinces herself that a young Filipino pop star is the reincarnation of her dead husband. In a film that looks like a rollercoaster of emotions wrapped in the obsessive fan girl trope, we’ll be sure to enjoy the journey as Shirley comes to terms with the fact that her delusions don’t make her devotion any less real.
Directed by Eve Bawsel
Eve Bawsel’s directorial debut is a horror feature that centers around 10-year-old Camille, whose loving mother suddenly turns distant and violent. Struggling to make sense of what’s happening to her mother, she ends up believing that her mother has been possessed by a demon, and must save her from its clutches to get her mother back.
The hushed violence of city crime is not a scene you’d want to get entangled with, yet a trio consisting of a videographer, a rookie police officer, and an undercover agent is forced to navigate a world where justice is steadily denied. The director, Dustin Celestino, is an advocate against extrajudicial killings and his film, ironically entitled Utopia, is delving into the social realities of that through dark comedy headlined by Joem Bascon.
Tayo Muna Habang Di Pa Tayo
Directed by Denise O’ Hara
A film that might just stand as a diorama for the complications of modern dating, Tayo Muna Habang Di Pa Tayo is upfront about what it would like to do. There is no grand question to be answered, only to be explored. The premise is simple: Alex and Carlo are doing everything but putting a label on it, and this creates internal storms that’s breaking the cool surface one has to keep lest they be branded marupok.
The push and pull of this label-less relationship takes its toll on both our protagonists. Perhaps, it’s a reincarnation of Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse, where Alex plays Lover and Carlo plays Beloved, and we watch all this unfold in the awkward ugly way that defining the relationship does, especially when the Beloved doesn’t see a point in it.
What are you coming to see at the Cinema One Originals Film Fest next week? Share it with us below!