Finally, A Dedicated Program of Shorts on the Big Screen

By: Rianne Hill Soriano | YEHEY! Contributors
1 July 2008 | 9:12 AM

A selection of 7 short films by the Katorse Writers Group (batch 14 workshoppers of Ricky Lee’s f scriptwriting workshops) graces Robinson’s Galleria’s Indie Sine with “Katorse Shorts,” a selection of 7 short films in a dedicated program normally given to full-length films only. With themes ranging from the romantic to the absurd to the tragic, the program is meant to bring to the consciousness of Filipino audiences that the short film medium is also a cinematic art form that can hold its own.

Overall, the films show strength in concept, story, and treatment amidst the many given limitations for such indie shorts having to cope up with financial and time constraints, lack of technical resources, among others.

The “Katorse Shorts” line-up include:

“Ang Kapalaran ni Virgin Mario” (11 mins.)
By: Ogi Sugatan
Cast: Yul Servo, Forsyth Cordero
Gay lovers, Mario and Jose, experience the most joyful of mysteries.
6th SHORTMOVES International Film Festival, GERMANY
Jakarta Slingshortfest (2006)
International Short Film Festival Detmold “FilmLichter06”

The film is stylized with comic acts about a pregnant male. It puts allegories catering to the kind of audience who are into the more figurative offers. With a theatrical presentation in depths of black, its visual elements merely include the characters and the significant elements supporting the scenes’ requirements. Considering the many kinds of audiences, this short film absurdly renders fleeting emotions within its minimalist surroundings that some might find interesting, some might find wackily droll, and some might find weird.

“Ambulancia” (15 mins)
By: Richard Legaspi
Cast: Alan Paule, Nor Domingo
Ambulancia tells of a painful twist in an ambulance driver’s belief that a dying patient can be saved by running over stray animals on the streets.
In Competition, International Panorama of Film and Video, Patras City Greece 2008
In Competition, NOUSSA International Film Festival, Greece 2008
Winner, Quisumbing Escandor Film Festival, Best Short Narrative 2008
Winner, Grand Prize, Viva-PBO Digitales, Philippines 2008
Official Selection, Asian Film Academy Fellows Night Screening, S. Korea 2007
Official Selection, CineManila International Film Festival 2007

The film’s screenplay is its major strength. Overall, the performances give it justice. The dialogues coincide with the tight pacing. The cuts succeed in building tension to the scenes requiring such. Trying to drive with that careful balance of keeping the twist while letting the main character indulge with the right emotions, a little more depth to how the character delivers the goods for a more solid pain and empathy to his plight, and this film elevates itself further.

“Manyika” (15 mins.)
By: John Wong
Cast: Bor Ocampo, Sheenly Vee Gener
Manyika is a tale of talking teddies, an impatient miss, and a misunderstood lover.
Best Short Film, 2006 Cinemadali Short Film Competition

The film could have been as mushy and overbearing like its stuff toys; and yet, it turns out striking – mainly come climax time. Within its realistic treatment, there is a kind of mystery established in the characterization that makes the film work. The voiceovers could have been lessened a bit and things would just be fine. There are some dragging expositions that could probably be due to limitations in the production. Nevertheless, the film’s touching end creates such an emotional slice of life story.

“Puwang” (25 mins)
By: Anna Isabelle Matutina
Cast: Elmo Redrico, Roence Santos, Bon Reyes, Lorena Landicho
Puwang is a starkly real look into a family on the verge of falling apart in the face of impending death.
2007 Official Selection: Lyon Asian Film Festival, France
2006 Finalist: Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival
2006 Exhibition Film: Cinemanila International Film Festival

As a father-to-his children story and vice-versa, this melodrama about life and living life promotes simple shots while delivering lines with the right emotional baggage at work. Its minimalist production design and cinematography blend well with the story as it carefully stitches issues that has damaged family relationships.

“Dead Letter” (20 mins)
By: Grace Orbon
Cast: Gamaliel Nicolas, Edel del Llarte
A young man’s journey into the world of writing.
In Competition, 3rd Singapore Short Film Festival 2006

Poetic on its own, there is that consistent angst expressed through words uttered by the main character. However, the film still needs further direction in order to solidify its point and effectively bring the linear and abstract aspects of its storytelling requirements effectively into the medium.

“Lababo” (17 mins)
By: Seymour Barros Sanchez
Cast: Nerissa Icot, Virnie Tolentino, Stephen Patrick Moore
Lababo is the story of a young woman and a crazy woman who both fell in love with the same American soldier.
Grand Prize, Viva’s PBO Digitales Short Film Competition 2007
In competition, 48th Bilbao Film Festival in Spain 2006
In exhibition, Internal Affairs 1, Jakarta Slingshortfest 2006
In exhibition, 8th Cinemanila International Film Festival 2006
In competition, 8th International Panorama of Independent Film and Video in Greece

Consistent with its style, the film’s progressive tone is apparent the whole time. Its supposed lines are merely supported by the talking radio announcer serving what voiceovers would normally offer – while also working as good metaphors on how the Philippines tend to seek leftovers from America in various respects. The narrative could have benefited further by utilizing more of the thoughts and emotions of the woman character inside the house waiting for her man’s return. And such could have further enhanced the emotional plunge into the many issues the film presents.

“Walong Linggo” (18 mins)
By: Anna Isabelle Matutina
Cast: Jaymee Joaquin, Joey Santos
A young man who sits alone in a cafe every Sunday morning suddenly finds himself strangely falling in love with a girl he doesn’t know.

The film’s treatment seems to be paying homage to the silent era films where the visuals and music comprise the totality of the film’s technical and audio-visual aspects. It puts the unspoken information through texts like title cards in the opening or closing credits of films of today. And the musical score plays a significant role in establishing the mood for each theme and the emotional needs of its love story.

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