The growing popularity of independent movies (indies) is seen to be a trend towards the resurrection of the local movie industry. The successive gains local filmmakers have achieved at international film festivals most recently compliment the idea. Maybe so or hopefully, it does follow this positive trend. But certainly, an event like amBisyon 2010 is no occasion for Indie enthusiasts to gloat.
Ambitionmeans aspiration, desire, or the goal an individual wants to realize. Thus, ambisyon in the vernacular would be an appropriate name for a project aimed at encouraging the liberal expression of ideas. With the project focused particularly on the potential of the film medium as communication tool, amBisyon lends itself to a clever, more refined redefinition and becomes “ang vision.”
As reported, ANC, the ABS-CBN News Channel intended amBisyon 2010 for young aspiring filmmakers, for them to have a venue for their craft, as it would likewise be an opportunity for the network to “contribute to the national election awareness effort.” Where programming was concerned, the idea sounded rather innovative, which was fine, as it would be an act of benevolence or gesture of compassion for the filmmakers as well. (Applause!)
Its implementation would be an entirely different story, however. Participants were invited. Some 14 from a list of active filmmakers, with the six others culled from aspiring filmmakers who were encouraged to apply, which involved submitting scripts of their short films. Finally, a total of 20 short films led to a semblance of a festival of sorts. One could imagine that all these looked good and feasible on paper. Ambitious, too, but it was manageable.
ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs head Maria Ressa didn’t mince her words during the grand premiere of the network’s 20-film project at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on April 6. “We need to see the world in a different way and we need to have thefreedom to express it,” she said during the opening ceremonies. (Shivers.)
The poster for the event graphically presented the concept and paid tribute to the participating film directors. Each of the 19 filmmakers who gracedthe occasion (one was out of the country and could not attend), was called onstage and presented with a poster for keepsake. The formal proceedings was such that one participant quipped, “Parang awards night. Sana isinama ko ang nanay ko.”
To say that amBisyon “is about the dreams of a nation, the vision of a future in the context of a country locked in poverty” is a loaded statement. That it is about “hope, possibility, and truth – through the lenses of those who tell its stories” is, to say the least ambitious, indeed.
Even contextually pretentious, considering the corporate profile of ABS-CBN, a television network that enjoys the popularity of its commercial program packages.
This is not to downgrade the well-meaning effort behind the concept but to underscore the irony.
The project, amBisyon 2010 may have laudable objectives but to say that it succeeded with this initial venture is highly debatable. What appears rather clear is that its implementation is confused, its organizers rather vaguely familiar with the efficacy of its structure. There may have been comprehensible moments but sophomoric should best describe the effort. To generalize it as successful can be downright misleading, in effect offering filmmakers and the public false hopes.
No amount of window dressing will sufficiently camouflage the shortcomings of the project. It was generous for the likes of Brillante Mendoza, Jeffrey Jeturian, Erik Matti, and Raymund Red, among others to have shared their prominence with amBisyon thus lending it a veneer of legitimacy. Unless the idea is to revel in our shortcomings, then that’s another story.
The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) may have unwittingly boosted viewer interest for amBisyon 2010 when it gave “Ganito Tayo Ngayon, Paano Tayo Bukas” (Jeturian) and “Ayos Ka” (Mendoza) an X, which prohibits the public screening of both. The board eventually reconsidered the rating of Mendoza’s music video and changed it to an R. Network management is reportedly inclined to seek a legal way out of the predicament.
Jeturian’s short film shows a newspaper with itsheadline heralding the administration’s economic prospects eventually being trashed literally, as a man wipes feces off his foot with it. Evidently, the board resolved the shot as repulsive with the newspaper page carrying a photograph of the incumbent President. The graphic rendering may have been considerably irreverent but the metaphor undeniably relevant as it echoes the public disenchantment for the current leadership. Expectedly, the MTRCB was not amused and its members will argue to no end its right to censure such a filmic dare.
The music video is easier to justify. Mendoza opts to document a prevailing scene – utter depravation, grime and squalor interestingly contrasted it with rap tempo and innocent smiles in the faces of children. Besides such an offering, what else?
Disarray, disorder, and confusion
A variety of 20 short films, from four to eight minutes in length, translate to a diversity of views and treatments of pressing national issues like justice and human rights, education, health, economy, environment, population, poverty, security, corruption and democracy. Twenty film directors, 10 issues and a marathon screening of the short films at the CCP Dream Theater, and the result was expectedly disarray, disorder, and confusion.
Erik Matti chooses to be lyrical in his treatment of the population issue in “The More, The Meniyer,” tracing its beginnings with the inhabitants of a cartoon paradise and the first couple’s simplistic interpretation of the multiplication dictum from an almighty.
A documentation of events following the Maguindanao tragedy with scenes shown in reverse suggesting the wistful thoughts and anxieties among the relatives of victims. Balloons fall from the sky, petals briskly fly into waiting hands; people walk backwards indicating the futile desire for events to return to wherever it started in “Requiem for M,” a short film by Kiri Dalena.
Memories of martial law moving onwards to a regime change are recalled in a short film titled Wasteland by Paolo Villaluna with a family losing just about everything in the process, with their sense of values in shatters as well. Concentrating on style, “Wasteland” offers charming vignettes, a lot of melodramatic moments with Snooky Serna and Gerard Madrid, while its message as empty as the household of its characters.
Villaluna, who conceptualized the project with fellow director Emman Dela Cruz, said he hopes to answer his own questions about the country through this project. “Not only is amBisyon 2010 supposed to inspire but more importantly, it’s supposed to provoke people into thinking again about their future,” he explained.
The amBisyon 2010 films are being shown via a five-part TV special on ANC (SkyCable channel 27) at 11 p.m. every Friday until the week before the elections. For more details on the project, just visit www.abs-cbnnews.com/ambisyon2010.
A multi-media practitioner, Ishko F. Lopez has worked as feature writer, columnist and editor in several major publications. He scripted TV material in the ’70s and is credited as screenwriter of about 20 movies.