Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pauwi Na (Paolo Villaluna & Ellen Ramos, ToFarm Film Festival 2016)

ToFarm Film Festival produced a decent crop of exceptional films such as Pauwi Na and Paglipay. The organizers treated the film makers well and they reaped some good karma in return.

Pauwi Na is a surprise film entry. It barely touched on the festival theme of farmers and farming. The gist of the story is about a family of five going back to their province. It may be that the screening committee sees their story as a sentimental 'back to one's roots' tale.

The family's journey is quite a challenge because they have to ride a pedicab. The sickly father (Bembol Roco) is quite accustomed to driving a pedicab but he is no longer young. Fed up with a non-paying client and stressed by urban living, he decides to take his family back home. His main reason, though, is he wants to be buried in his hometown. That story plot is taking the 'back to roots' imagery too far.

The tragic story seldom strays into melodrama because of suave cinematic inputs of the filmmakers. The pregnant daughter-in-law Isabel (Meryll Soriano) is blind but can see and chat with Jesus Christ. She gets wisdom and sometimes crucial help from the Lord.

A hysterically funny scene shows the visually impaired Isabel crossing a busy highway. The audience knows she has a guide but her family doesn't know a thing. A shot of a huffing pregnant woman in the middle of the street is juxtaposed with a shot of anxious, deeply worried family members. This whole segment is a brilliant piece of editing.

The use of black and white sequences to portray fantasy scenes also help the film from being overly dramatic. There are two deaths in the family. One such death scene was prefigured through the use of a black and white sequence.

The final shot of the remaining family members with their 'angels' backdropped with a scenic rustic view suggests that paradise is not a province. Paradise is a place where your family is. It may be a verdant field or it may be a shanty house or it may be a pedicab. As long as two family members or more decide to stick with one another, paradise will always be in their midst. Ask Isabel, she knows.

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