Thursday, June 11, 2009

Festival Alert: IndioBravo

Any film festival programming a seven and a half hour film deserves credit for its ambition, particularly in its inaugural year. Beginning tonight at the MoMA, the IndioBravo Film Festival will be screening an intriguing cross-section of Filipino cinema, including Lav Diaz’s nearly eight hour Melancholia, as part of a slate of fifteen features and eleven shorts.

Wisely, Melancholia will be split in half, with part 1 screening this Saturday and part 2 following on Sunday. Most features will be far more manageable in terms of time commitments, like the festival opener 100, one of two features which directly address love and impending mortality. Whereas 100 is a dramatic story of a woman given one hundred days to live, My Only U clearly takes the romantic comedy approach to its tale of a woman born into a family whose members never live past the age of twenty-five.

Donsol, which was the official Philippines submission for the 2007 Best Foreign Academy Award, should represent Filipino art cinema, as will Tirador, directed by Brillante Mendoza, who recently won the Best Director Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Mendoza’s Serbis was recently released in America and is also definitely worth catching up with. As the story of a decrepit family-run adult movie theater, Serbis is provocative, but never prurient. Mendoza’s restless camera and sharply observed scenes of urban squalor mark him as a major international filmmaker to watch.

After tonight’s MoMA opening, most screenings will be at the School for Visual Arts Theater or the Millennium Film Workshop. Look for individual reviews here in the coming days.