27th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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Transparent Landscape: Philippines

Reaching back to the very beginning when motion pictures were made in and about the country (1899), the curatorial program digs deep into the historical past and extends the arc to the latest digital works of today. This has never been done before in such a breathtaking attempt to survey the landmark works of the Philippine motion picture history—a history that intersects with that of world cinema. History provides a curatorial armature which allows for an expansive view of the country’s century-old cinematic production.

The Transparent Landscape: Philippines section is organised in cooperation with the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

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noimage
A reportage filmed for Pathé captures the inauguration of the second President of the Philippines, Manuel Luis Quezon, in the presence of members of the US Senate. The US allowed its colony to have its own president for an experimental period of ten years from 1935. Quezon fled to the US during World War II, where he led a government in exile.
personal program

A Nepomuceno Newsreel (possibly)

José Nepomuceno
1935 / 36 sec.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
ABCD
Experimental animation uses the letters of the alphabet in an associative sequence of 26 images. Every letter represents a different topic, the crucial ones being those related to socio-political issues. Apart from a demonic “e”, referring to “evil”, the most interesting letter is “q”, posing a question why the Philippines remains poor when it abounds in natural resources.
personal program

ABCD

Roxlee
Philippines / 1985 / 6 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Advance of Kansas Volunteers at Caloocan
The coverage from a battlefield, made for Edison Manufacturing Company, captures the advance of the American army, lead by the lieutenant general Arthur C. MacArthur Jr., and the subsequent conquest of Caloocan in 1899. That year Washington refused to acknowledge the First Philippine Republicʼs declaration of independence and instead sent the American army, starting the Philippine-American war.
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Advance of Kansas Volunteers at Caloocan

James H. White
United States, Philippines / 1899 / 56 sec.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
Bontoc Eulogy
In this groundbreaking autoethnographic documentary, which embeds authorʼs own life story in the wider cultural, social and political context, the director Marlon E. Fuentes researches his own ancestry. His research takes him to St. Louis World Fair in 1904, where his grandfather was displayed as a part of the Philippine exhibition. The Philippine exhibition was particularly popular with visitors at the end of the Philippine-American war, because it justified the invasion of the Philippines by the American army, supposedly on the mission to spread civilization. Using a combination of documentary and quasi-documentary footage, Fuentes emphasizes that archival materials, considered to be an objective recording of the facts, can easily be misused for ideological purposes.
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Bontoc Eulogy

Marlon Fuentes
Philippines, United States / 1995 / 57 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Consequences of Man
Human hands can be both destructive and healing, Jeffrie Po suggests in his experimental film with spiritual outreach. He portrays a human being as a faun who roams the jungle dauntlessly, yet is destructive. The forest with vanishing cattle becomes a battlefield between dark powers and the power of salvation.
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Consequences of Man

Jeffrie Po
Philippines / 2018 / 13 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
Death in the Land of Encantos
Encanto is a spirit residing in the Philippine land. Diaz went to search for it in the Bicol region, which was severely impacted in 2006 by the typhoon Reming, also known as Durian. Instead of the intended documentary, he created a docufiction which introduces his trilogy on trauma, consisting of Melancholia (2008) and Florentina Hubaldo, CTE (2012). Diazʼs 9-hour-long opus tells the story of a fictional character, a Filipino poet Benjamin Agusan, who returns to his homeland from abroad. But instead of his home he finds a devastated land. Using an extraordinary visual language, the film is a meditation on loss and death, telling a story of individual trauma which transformed into a national one.
personal program

Death in the Land of Encantos

Lav Diaz
Philippines / 2007 / 541 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
even if cities would vanish, we will remain
Manila at night is an experimental landscape in which the contradictory elements characteristic of living in a big city collide. The physical meets the technological, the human meets the industrial. Fast sex, fragmented lives, anonymous portraits without faces and genitals are scattered in a poetic chaos of colorful neon, fireworks, and advertisements for an ideal world.
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even if cities would vanish, we will remain

JT Trinidad
Philippines / 2022 / 5 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
World Premiere
Eyesore
A collective work, made at the beginning of the 1990s, was the result of a workshop lead by German filmmakers, such as Michael Wulfes and Christian Weisenborn. Its authors, who now belong among the stars of the Philippine cinema, depict intimate portraits of children living in the streets of Manila.
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Eyesore

Arturo Boncato Jr., Cesar Hernando, Ditsi Carolino, Joseph Fortin, Mario Guzman, Mylene Segundera
Philippines / 1990 / 51 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
European Premiere
Fury in Paradise
A romance about a love triangle and a war between rival tribes is the first film made for the first Philippine film studio, Filippine Films. Although it was a box office flop, Zamboanga holds a firm place in the country’s history because it kick-started the emergence of the country’s film industry. It is also one of five surviving films made before World War II.
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Fury in Paradise

Eduardo de Castro
Philippines / 1937 / 58 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
European Premiere
Holy
This darkly lyrical prayer for forgiveness is the first Filipino short film to win the Best Independent Film Award from the Regions from the Cultural Center of the Philippines. An associative sequence of cemetery and religious motifs, based on a dark and shadowy contrast of light and shadow, follows the specter of a woman confessing her sins at her own grave.
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Holy

Elvert Bañares
Philippines / 1993 / 8 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
Child of Manila
A desperate woman, clutching a baby in the streets of Manila at night, represents a symbol of poverty plaguing the city. A stifling social drama combines live action with animation and brings the animated characters to life in the most impressive way; thus unfolding a more positive alternative to the story. Christian motives bring forth the message of hope, faith and a better world.
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Child of Manila

Dange Desembrana, Emmanuel Dadivas
Philippines / 1993 / 6 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
In Manila
This impressionistic urban symphony captures Manila as a place of fascinating contrasts. Poverty clashes with the construction boom, the lingering beggars with rushing cars and pedestrians. Counterpoints are both a meaning-making and stylistic element. One poetically mirrors the other.
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In Manila

Ricky Orellana, Josephine Atienza, Mike Alcazaren
Philippines / 1989 / 7 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
Johnny Crawl
A half-naked man, covered in white paint and wearing a black wig, crawls in the streets of Manila. Rather than a human being he reminds us of a centipede or a lizard, or a completely otherworldly being that amuses and disquiets. Roxlee releases his “crawler”, a phantom which embodies the anonymous souls of those who vanished without a trace under the Marcosʼs regime.
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Johnny Crawl

Roxlee
Philippines / 1987 / 5 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Let This Film Serve as a Manifesto For a New Cinema
A frenetic collage of scenes with a commentary provided by the pioneer of the independent film, Nick Deocampo, serves as a film manifesto for New Cinema – the movement lead by young filmmakers who lived under the dictatorship for 20 years and who rebelled against the propagandist cinema. The committed film speaks about the social change, the new film and the new world.
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Let This Film Serve as a Manifesto For a New Cinema

Nick Deocampo
Philippines / 1990 / 26 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
Lizard, or How to Perform in Front of the Reptile
A punk performance about the trinity of man, the holy spirit, and the lizard follows a strange mass to the sound of heavy metal music. The film cuts to a man staggering around a room with a stocking on his head and to a lizard, which evokes bizarre, heretical associations of worshippers praying to a large reptile in churches.
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Lizard, or How to Perform in Front of the Reptile

Roxlee
Philippines / 1986 / 5 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
Manila by Night
Ishmael Bernal᾽s most famous and controversial work portrays Manila in the 1970s as a place where a cluster of relationships unravels. The characters include a blind masseuse Bea, a lesbian drug addict Kano, a married taxi driver Pebrero who has an affair with both his pregnant lover Baby and his male lover Manay, while his wife Ade works as a prostitute. Ferdinand Marcosʼs wife disliked this portrayal of Manila as a city full of sex, drugs and homosexuality. Some scenes had to be edited, the title was changed to City After Dark, so it would not refer to Manila, and the film was banned from screening abroad. Later it became a cult movie and nowadays it is considered invaluable for its realism and humane legacy.
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Manila by Night

Ishmael Bernal
Philippines / 1980 / 150 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
noimage
At the turn of the 20th century, the streets of Manila are filled with horse-drawn carriages, people in white European dresses, and wedding parties coming out of the church. Behind the civilized face of the fin-de-siècle, however, lie the dictates of a colonizing power that has conquered a third world country.
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Manila Colonial Scenes

1900 / 1 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
Margin
Paolo’s sex life began at the age of 14 in the men’s room. Since then, his life has been divided into a world of light and shadow. His sexual awakening is also a political manifesto. Only in gay nightclubs can he be free. It’s a world of imaginary lovers, dancers in the dark, who don’t exist in the daytime for society.
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Margin

Paolo Villaluna
Philippines / 2001 / 17 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
Mix One and Two
A child with a gas mask dreaming of an eagle's flight presents an environmental reflection on the impact of human civilization on the environment. However, the clear message is dressed in unusually subtle clothing, with lyrical melodies and poetic images of vast landscapes ready to capture Icarus' fall.
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Mix One and Two

Roxlee
Philippines / 1990 / 5 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
The film already had its Czech Premiere
Native Life in the Philippines
The latest discovery from the Filipino archives, an ethnographic documentary from 1913, rewrites the history of cinema. It was created nine years before the Robert Flaherty film, Nanook of the North, which, thus, makes it the world’s first-ever, feature-length documentary film. In a series of five scenes, the film depicts various aspects of the lives of indigenous peoples. It presents one of the few positive effects of colonization, which brought cinema to the Philippines. The owner of the film was the Secretary of Interior Affairs for the Philippines, Dean C. Worcester. He shot the film at the end of his political career before embarking on a lucrative lecture tour across the United States.
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Native Life in the Philippines

Dean C. Worcester
Philippines, United States / 1913 / 75 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
European Premiere
Oliver
A Filipino dancer by day transforms into Liza Minnelli and Spiderman by night in the gay nightlife scene, where he pulls a 100-metre-long cord out of his rear end as he spins a spider web for a living. This first instalment in a trilogy of films about life under Ferdinand Marcos’ military regime shook the Filipino film community. It marks the beginning of a wave of documentaries on marginalized minority groups and the critical state of society.
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Oliver

Nick Deocampo
Philippines / 1983 / 38 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
On my way to Freedom Avenue, I was Crushed in EDSA
Security camera footage shows a bus colliding with a van. In slow-motion, the traffic accident turns into an almost elegantly choreographed dance, while the asynchronous soundtrack plays out a drama of human voices, screams, and punches that recalls the police shooting into a demonstrating crowd.
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On my way to Freedom Avenue, I was Crushed in EDSA

Lem Garcellano
Philippines / 2019 / 4 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
On the way to India Consciousness, I Reached China
Henry Francia’s self-portrait captures the inner world of the artist, who spent time in New York in the 1960s to study film. His stay in the USA turns into a spiritual journey, where the young man experiences the feelings of Filipino immigrants in a foreign land, far from home.
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On the way to India Consciousness, I Reached China

Henry Francia
United States, Philippines / 1968 / 37 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
European Premiere
Overdosed Nightmare
An avant-garde film, Overdosed Nightmare offers audiences an unsettling, close-up view of a wounded Manila. Rapid decline, nihilism, gangrene, and pus are what characterize the lives of those who live in the Philippines’ capital city. A gang of rat-munching, hood rat delinquents wreak havoc in the streets. A young hooligan shoves a prisoner into a barrel and taunts him with philosophical gobbledygook while one man toys with a poor, crippled man. These micro-stories are later topped by Jesus’ journey to Golgotha. Khavn ruthlessly criticizes the Church and draws attention to the hypocrisy of an institution that wages wars in the name of God and cooperates with dictators. A corrupt president, prisoners, actors, and a crucified Jesus H. Christ all mesh together in this phantasmagorical performance, which features an underlying sociopolitical and philosophical commentary on Filipino society.
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Overdosed Nightmare

Khavn De La Cruz
Philippines / 2008 / 88 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
Pilipinas: What Do You Think of the Philippines Mr. Janetzko?
This experimental film, which resembles an abstract painting, is an imaginary conversation between Romana and the German cameraman Christoph Janetzko, who visited the Philippines in the early 1990s. Fragments of the action film flash ornamentally between the moving shapes, colors, and film scraps.
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Pilipinas: What Do You Think of the Philippines Mr. Janetzko?

Regiben O. Romana
Philippines / 1989 / 5 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
noimage
This melancholic documentary chronicles funeral rituals in the small fishing village of Navotas. The sea is a source of livelihood, but also a place where the dead rest. From their graves on the shore, they gaze out at the endless horizon and the setting sun. This 1969 film bids farewell not only to the dead, but also to a dying tradition. Today, Navotas is the largest fishing port in Southeast Asia.
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Recuerdo of Two Sundays and Two Roads That Lead to the Sea

Bibsy M. Carballo
Philippines / 1969 / 16 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
Red Saga
The sea of red and white flags that flood the rice paddies in the countryside and the streets of Manila symbolize resistance to the armed suppression of civil unrest. Engaged and poetic at the same time, the film is both a tribute to the victims of violence and a call to arms. In its emotional power and level of engagement, it is reminiscent of works of the Soviet montage school.
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Red Saga

Kiri Dalena
Philippines / 2004 / 16 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
Revolutions Happen Like Refrains in a Song
The combination of queer cinema and engaged documentary delivers an urgent message about the need for social transformation. It works with the juxtaposition of the sexual minority and the 1986 revolution in which the regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos fell. Freedom can only be achieved by transforming socio-economic and political structures.
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Revolutions Happen Like Refrains in a Song

Nick Deocampo
Philippines / 1987 / 49 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
Riddle (Superstitions from the Garbage)
A wryly poignant socially critical collage of archival material depicts the Philippines as a giant junkyard where various interest groups clash. Politicians meet with foreign delegations and church leaders; revolutionaries urge armed uprising while impoverished children play in the garbage.
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Riddle (Superstitions from the Garbage)

Mario Mercado, Rei M. Nicandro
Philippines / 1990 / 6 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
Shadows
The first Philippine film to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival combines live-action elements with documentary film techniques. Half a social drama and half a raw city symphony, Shadows tells the story of a photographer who loses his camera. The characters he meets represent the various facets of big-city society. Manila can be a warmonger at the church altar, an aggressive macho man in a Mercedes-Benz, or a child living in poverty.
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Shadows

Raymond Red
Philippines / 2000 / 13 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
Storm Children, Book One
The Philippines is the most storm-exposed country on Earth. However, no storm was as strong as Typhoon Haiyan back in 2013, known in the Philippines as Super Typhoon Yolanda. The storm generated waves up to 15 meters high that destroyed the port city of Tacloban and extended a kilometer inland. A few months after the natural disaster, Diaz films the lives of children in Tacloban who lost their families to the storm and are struggling to survive in their new post-apocalyptic reality. The film’s impressive, documentary imagery is reminiscent of Diaz's live-action, epic dramas. In a series of slow, hypnotic shots, he manages to convey feelings of tenacity and perseverance in this fight for survival. Set against the backdrop of photogenic, doom-like images, the question arises as to what awaits a generation that was forced to grow up too fast.
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Storm Children, Book One

Lav Diaz
Philippines / 2014 / 143 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
The Brief Lifespan of Fire Act 2 Scene 2: Suring and the Kuk-ok
A Palawan legend tells a story of a cursed shamanic girl Suring who befriends a Kuk-ok, an entity that can transform into any being. An experimental movie, which combines live action and animation, brings to life the world of demigods and half-monsters in the most playful manner.
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The Brief Lifespan of Fire Act 2 Scene 2: Suring and the Kuk-ok

Auraeus Solito
Philippines / 1995 / 9 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
The Great Smoke
This animated satire on nuclear war is Roxlee's first standalone film. Serving as a raw grotesque and filmed in a garage, the film combines stop-motion animation and wash drawings with a collage of photos featuring people who survived the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear attacks. Roxlee, in turn, shows the devastating effects of radiation poisoning, which leads to madness, aggression, and even bestiality.
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The Great Smoke

Roxlee
Philippines / 1984 / 7 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
The film already had its Czech Premiere
The Sex Warriors and the Samurai
Joan, a Filipino transvestite, is a modern warrior. To support his 18-member family, he decides to head to Japan to earn money as a prostitute. Like other Filipino sex workers, he must undergo compulsory training, which includes a classical ballet examination. Only in this way will he be able to secure a work permit and reside in the country of the former occupying and contemporary economic power.
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The Sex Warriors and the Samurai

Nick Deocampo
Philippines, United Kingdom / 1985 / 26 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
The Victory Song of the Orient
Excerpts from the 1942 propaganda film Toyo no Gaika celebrate the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II. Named after a Japanese victory song, the film uses the power of the cinematic image for ideological purposes. A parade of visual symbols, emphasizing the patriotism of the victor and the defeat of the enemy, includes portraits of captured American generals and a trampled American flag.
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The Victory Song of the Orient

United States, Japan, Philippines / 1942 / 20 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
The Woman Behind the Tattoo Artist
Fang Od is a 92-year-old tattoo artist and the last representative of the Kalinga culture. The portrait of the artist whose tattooed body reminds us of the land and the map of life, is a testament to a dying tradition and a languishing cultural and national identity. She will take all of them to the grave, just like the tattoos on her body.
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The Woman Behind the Tattoo Artist

Lauren Sevilla Faustino
Philippines / 2011 / 45 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
There is Nothing Here
When a person is between thirty and forty, he or she experiences a crisis that leads to a rediscovery of one’s own identity, the director of Chinese-Filipino origin reflects in her autobiographical essay. The inner monologue, in which she searches for a definition of nation in a neo-colonial world, is underlined by impressionistically blurred fragments of memories and contemporary reality.
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There is Nothing Here

Jean Claire Dy
Philippines / 2015 / 8 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
To Pick a Flower
Picking flowers is an act of violence, as is clearing ancient forests and moving natural resources from one continent to another. In her video essay, Shireen Seno, a film auteur of Filipino origin, comments on stock photos taken from the period of American colonialization of the Philippines between 1898 and 1946. She takes note of the similarities between photography and colonialism because images, in the same fashion as political power, are a form of appropriation.
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To Pick a Flower

Shireen Seno
Philippines / 2021 / 17 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
Czech Premiere
noimage
Turumba is an annual march held in the Philippine province of Laguna in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows. A local family that makes memorabilia also participates in the march. In the 1970s, the Munich Olympic Games enter a small Filipino village. The family gets a huge contract to produce 30,000 Olympic mascots. The original episode of this documentary series, which ZDF presented under the name Olympic Gold, was extended by Tahimik into a feature-length film. It shows the impact of capitalism on the countryside and on local traditions. It depicts a new face of neo-colonialism, whose main weapon is capital and consumerism, suppressing local spiritual traditions.
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Turumba

Kidlat Tahimik
West Germany, Philippines / 1983 / 87 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
European Premiere
Two Way Jesus
Maleldo is a holy weekend during which the Stations of the Cross are held every year. In the Philippine province of Pampanga, it is not only the faithful waiting to be crucified who gather, but also onlookers who eagerly capture the bloody tradition on their mobile phones and cameras. The documentary collage connects the Christian symbolism of sin, guilt, and punishment with the voyeurism of the social media era.
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Two Way Jesus

Jet Leyco
Philippines / 2016 / 12 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
European Premiere
Unison
This avant-garde, associative collage equates the system’s relationship to Filipino citizens as a marriage. But instead of a wedding full of majestic gestures, we witness a tyrannical system led by a conductor-like figure representing colonial domination and a military regime. The work, which was created under German cinematographer Christoph Janetzko's direction, borrows on archived records from such classic Filipino documentary filmmakers as Nick Deocampo and Ricky Orellana.
personal program

Unison

At Maculangan, Yam Laranas
Philippines / 1990 / 10 min.
section: Transparent Landscape: Philippines
International Premiere
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