Off-Center Perspective at Kontra-Agos Film Fest

By Noelani Torre
Cebu Daily News
Last updated 11:31pm (Mla time) 12/14/2007

MANILA, Philippines—With the mainstream Metro Manila Film Festival coming up later this month—an event that, you have to admit, not everyone’s excited about—last week’s Kontra-Agos film festival presented a more off-center perspective about different issues.

“Kontra-Agos: A Resistance Film Festival,” which was held from Dec. 5 to 11 at Robinsons Galleria’s Indie Sine, featured movies that deal with subjects not often tackled in mainstream cinema, in ways that are often as unconventional as their subject matter.

Intimate look

The festival kicked off with the screening of “Walai,” a documentary by Adjani Guerrero-Arumpac. The deeply moving film presents an intimate look into the intertwined experiences of four Muslim women who, at one point or another, spent a portion of their lives in Cotabato City’s White House—the seat of a once rich and powerful royal family, whose fortunes have waned as the paint on their mansion has peeled and faded. The house is closely linked to pivotal events that define the lives of these women and their families.


At once both poetic and clear-eyed, “Walai” is that rare documentary that gets into the heart and soul of its subject without losing its acuity. Arumpac clearly cares a great deal about the subject of her interviews, but even as her camera lingers on the wrinkled hands of an old mother whose children have died one by one, she also gets wry shots of a young girl clowning at the camera and an old man still living in the memories of a past that has long gone.

“Walai” proceeds at an appropriately slow, lingering pace. It feels inchoate and unstructured at first, but you realize, as the film draws to an end, how carefully everything has been set out and layered.

Kontra-Agos was the brainchild of filmmakers, Kiri Dalena and Sunshine Matutina.


Aside from “Walai,” other full-length features included were Waise Azimi’s “Standing Up”; JP Carpio’s “Hilo”; Clodualdo del Mundo Jr’s “EheM!Plo”; Teng Mangansakan’s “The Jihadist”, and John Torres’ “Voice, Tilted Screens and Extended Scenes of Loneliness: Filipinos in High Definition.”

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