Thursday, September 01, 2011

Patlang (Jet Leyco | 4th Silvershorts.MOV Short Film Finalist)

You might have noticed the disappearance of several of your friends’ profile pictures from Facebook on August 30. It was part of efforts to raise awareness about desaparecidos or enforced disappearances. High-profile cases in the Philippines involve two University of the Philippines students, Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, and Jonas Burgos.

Relatives of victims of enforced disappearances suffer strong emotional stress. Just imagine being unfriended without notice. It hurts badly. What more when a person you know is forcibly made to disappear. You don’t know where to start looking at or who to contact. Lav Diaz’s Melancholia does a great job of portraying the anxiety, confusion, pain, numbness, and hopelessness of relatives of victims.

Jet Leyco wisely chose not to focus on the relatives of victims. His film Patlang (Blank) starts with mere images of a distraught woman, possibly lover of a desaparecido. The filmmaker then takes viewers into the mindset of the desaparecido. The latter is basically a pro-country guy. He cares and fights for the rights of marginalized people. He joins rallies and election activities. He deplores the mendicant system in our society. Sometimes, his pro-poor acts are misconstrued as acts of a communist, which makes him a target of military hawks.

His calls for change, make that destruction, of the system ruffle the feathers of those in power. The latter employs various means of muffling the voices of these activists. Enforced disappearance is a ruthless, despicable way of eliminating dissent.

Jet Leyco’s brave and competent film Patlang borrows the structure and main idea of Aissa Penafiel’s Long Live the Fearless Man. Both films highlight the importance of speaking out against injustice, apathy, and heinous crimes such as the unsolved September 1, 2009 killings of Alexis Tioseco and his girlfriend Nika Bohinc. Leyco bookends his film with homages to Lav Diaz’s Melancholia. The scene showing the wounded activist on the run has traces of Lav Diaz in it. The lush ambient sound, the crouching point-of-view cinematography, and the lonely, wounded man are constant elements in Diaz’s films.

Jet Leyco's debut feature film Ex Press will have its premiere at the 4th .MOV film festival. 

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