KONTRA-AGOS: A Resistance Film Festival

Robinson’s Galleria, IndieSine
Quezon City, The Philppines
December 5-11, 2007

The first question that arises when you call for support to a resistance movement is, of course, “what are you resisting against and why?” In the case of liberation movements, the simple and logical answer would be the need for emancipation from oppression, whether it is economic, political or cultural. The same case can be said of cinema. After all, as a film critic said, cinema is (both) a receptacle and symptom of a nation’s transformation. Cinema is a symptom of the state nation not only in the respect that it is a battleground of national representations. As a productive and social enterprise, it is also regulated by the same economic, political and other forces that govern a society. The same globalized economy that allows the avalanche of surplus goods from first world to third world countries, for instance, is the same force behind the proliferation of images and narratives manufactured by Hollywood. Similarly, domination of a certain stream of cinema effectively marginalizes and silences other facts, ideas and artistic sensibilities the way a certain economic order only serves the interests of a few. The government which allows the murder of activists and journalists can very well be the same institution to influence the decision of film censors. As such, the need for resistance becomes critical.

Literally meaning “against the stream/current,” Kontra Agos, thus operates within the context that the visual and the imaginary is recognized as a site of struggle. It recognizes that the dominant stream of fantasy production and representation in cinema manipulates the people’s desire, imagination, expectation and appreciation, to suit certain hegemonic and oppressive agenda. As in other similar and relative projects, Kontra Agos seeks to validate that the apparatus of cinema can be mobilized as a tool for social transformation.

The festival celebrates independently produced films that resist and subvert popular cinematic and political conventions. Featured in the festival are mainly short and documentary films, the flagship format of independent and alternative cinema in the Philippines. The films represent a wide spectrum of cinematic creations from emerging and recognized filmmakers. Veteran filmmakers like Clodualdo del Mundo will be screening their work alternately with those from a new generation of cinema artists like 14-year old Mikhail Red.

The festival also decentralizes the panorama of local cinema away from the capital as it hosts the screening of works from Visayas and Mindanao. An important selection of the festival is an anthology of short films from Mindanao organized for exhibition by moro filmmaker Teng Mangansakan. These stories about the Land of Promise as told by its children seek to subvert the otherwise distorted and sometimes demonized images of the south and its people. This homegrown collection and other films about Mindanao such as Walai (Adjani Arumpac) and Unconventional Warfare (Herbert Docena and Anna Isabelle Matutina), serve as an alternate route into the heart of the war-torn island.

Subversion is the most striking feature of the festival. Noriel Jarito presents in Bingo a story that his camera was not suppose to capture: a bingo game being played inside the church with no less than the priests officiating it. Films like Red Saga (Kiri Dalena), meanwhile gives as a glimpse of the national democratic armed struggle being waged in the countryside. Other films, on the other hand, subvert cinematic and storytelling conventions. In Hilo, subtle movements replace the almost theatrical staging of actions and emotions normally used to tell stories in the big screen. Formal poetic language and experimental designs and methods in cinema meanwhile are deftly used in Divine Wind (Sari Dalena), Threshold (Mikhail Red), Simula (Ruelo Lozendo) and Voice, Tilted Screens (John Torres), among others.

The festival also places a special emphasis on promoting the importance and protection of human rights, here in the Philippines or elsewhere. The collection of public service announcements entitled Rights will premiere its second volume. As it can be remembered, the first volume of Rights was initially given an X-rating by the MTRCB. Taken as a whole, it is a strong statement by the filmmaking community here in the Philippines against the widespread violation of human rights and the culture of impunity that perpetuates it. Documentary films such as Sa Ngalan ng Tubo, Pushing the Parameters, were also selected to present facts and accounts about the multifarious human rights violations happening in the country.

A festival of alternative and independent cinema is not new in the Philippines. Pelikula at Lipunan, Cineveritas, eKsperimento, and .mov film festivals easily come to mind. By tradition, these festivals always invoke a critical stance. Kontra Agos is an affirmation and intensification of this position. By calling itself a resistance film festival, it locates its position in the site of struggle. It aims to be a venue for the convergence of a range of films that are inclined to be thematically and structurally marginalized but are nevertheless united and daring to resist.

FILM SELECTION

FEATURE LENGTH FILMS

Adjani Arumpac: WALAI (60 mins/documentary2007)
Waise Azimi: STANDING UP (155 mins/documentary/2007)
Teng Mangansakan: THE JIHADIST (75 mins/documentary/2007)
John Torres: VOICE, TILTED SCREENS AND EXTENDED SCENES OF LONELINESS: FILIPINOS IN HIGH DEFINITION (100 min/experimental narrative/2007)

SHORT FILMS

Elvert de la Cruz Bañares: ANG BAYAN KONG PAYAPA (5 mins/2007/experimental)
Jeck Cogama: PUTOT (20 mins/narrative/2006)
Gabriela Krista Lluch Dalena: RED SAGA (15 mins/experimental/2004)
Sari Raissa Dalena-Sicat: DIVINE WIND (4 mins/experimental/2001)
Apol Dating and Michael Cardoz: MEDALAWNA (15 mins/documentary/2007)
Noriel Jarito: BINGO (18 mins/documentary/2007)
Kodao Productions: PUSHING THE PARAMETERS:LAWYERING FOR THE PEOPLE (27 mins/documentary/2007)
Ruelo Lozendo: SIMULA (10 mins/experimental/2006)
RJ Mabilin: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF GLORIA ARROVO (1 min/animation/2005)
Herbert Docena and Anna Isabelle Matutina: UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE (30 mins/documentary/2006)
Nick Olanka: LUNES NG HAPIS (20 mins/narrative/2006)
Mikhail Red: THE THRESHOLD (16 mins/experimental/2007)
Sine Patriyotiko: MENDIOLA (31 mins/documentary/2006)
Mariami Tanangco: BINYAG (20 mins/narrative/2002)
Tudla Productions: SA NGALAN NG TUBO (37 mins/documentary/2005)

MINDANAO SHORTS (Curated by Teng Mangansakan)
Sheron Dayoc: DREAMS (narrative/2007)
Moises Charles Hollite: GEORGE’S TOWN (documentary/2007)
Al Jacinto: SULU (documentary/2007)
Loren Hallilah I. Lao: TRANQUIL TIMES (documentary/2007)
Mona Labado: STEP FOR MY DREAM (narrative/2007)
McRobert Nacario: BINITON (narrative/2007)
Eduardo C. Vazquez, JR: ME’GUYAYA (documentary/2007)

WAYS AND MEANS SUB-PROGRAM (Curated by Waise Azimi)
JP Carpio: HILO (90 mins/narrative/2007)
Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr: EheM!Plo (50 mins/documentary/2007)
Emman Dela Cruz: THE SINGH FAMILY HOME VIDEOS (40 mins/documentary/2007)

OTHER KONTRA-AGOS EVENTS:
8 December, 5-7 PM
PANEL DISCUSSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND ARTISTIC FREEDOM
IN PHILIPPINE CINEMA

6-9 December
PHOTO EXHIBIT AT THE LOBBY
courtesy of the FREE JONAS BURGOS MOVEMENT

*KONTRA-AGOS RESISTANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2007
is an Initiative of ST Exposure and Digital Cheese
in cooperation with UP Sining at Lipunan, Sine Tres Marias and
the Independent Filmmakers Cooperative.

http://kontra-agos.blogspot.com

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