Sunday, August 05, 2012

Ang Nawawala (Marie Jamora, Cinemalaya 2012 New Breed Finalist)

Of all the finalists in the New Breed category of Cinemalaya, Ang Nawawala is the one that can be called a comic book. It is colorful and has lots of issues. There's a feeling of deja vu with every major plot twists. Haven't we seen those things before in Cinemalaya and Cinema One Originals films?

However, the film by Marie Jamora packs a mean wallop of an ending. She made good on what a character said, 'Everything will be alright in the end.' The main characters, or make that the engaging lead actors especially Dominic Roco and Annicka Dolonius, help us get through all those bouts with deja vu.

Gibson Bonifacio (Dominic Roco) just came back from a three-year study/rehabilitation abroad. His mother is aghast to learn that he still do not speak despite the long absence. This extreme reticence is the result of a traumatic past. He communicates mostly through Iphone notes and picture postcards.

Okay, let's get this thing straighten out. He moves around here and abroad so he must somehow speak, right? The first time we see him speak is with a sibling. Hmm, that looks similar to a Cinema One Originals film of Sam Milby. Then, we get to see glimpses of Cinemalaya films like Dinig Sana Kita, and Rakenrol. The latter is the peg of Jamora for the randy jokes and energetic concert scenes. There's even a poster of the Hapipaks group from Rakenrol on a concert site.

We also see several Mike de Leon posters on Gibson's room. Is there a connection with Gibson's behavior? The kid is reticent and not a recluse... Ohh. There's the connection. Both men are with movie cameras. 

Jamora's life turn around when she was given a Video 8 by her father. It's been a circuitous journey for her filmmaking life. Home movies. Music videos. Commercials. And, back to her grand home movie, Ang Nawawala. Included in the cast is her real sister. Found in Gibson's room, which is likely the director's', are DVDs such as Basquiat, and graphic novels such as Elmer, a chicken who ironically speaks.  

Show-offy filmmakers turn me off. But, Jamora is a unique case. She is not showing off. She is sharing her world to us and I'm glad she did. Her film Ang Nawawala and Gino Santos' film The Animals are a refreshing whiff of air in an indie scene polluted with poverty porn films. Their surprisingly-good stories about upper middle class kids resonated well with the mostly young Cinemalaya crowd. Ang Nawawala even won the Audience Choice's award in the New Breed category. 

While it may have some issues, there are certain positive things cited by fans of Ang Nawawala.  Some admired the young actors. Others loved the soundtrack. The best of them is the satisfying, fireworks-in-the-sky ending. No more explanation is needed. The heart-tugging ending should be experienced than retold. My lips are sealed but my heart is bursting with gladness.

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