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NETPAC Award Winners at 3rd Qcinema International Film Festival, Oct 22-31 2015

Monica Wednesday November 4, 2015

Sleepless by Prime Cruz, Philippines 2015
Sleepless by Prime Cruz, Philippines 2015

by Prime Cruz
120mins, Philippines 2015

Best Film (NETPAC)
3rd Qcinema International Film Festival, Oct 22-31 2015
Quezon City, Philippines

Film critics don’t give in to guilty pleasures easily but when a film like Sleepless keeps them awake, that’s almost like a clarion call. Debut filmmaker Prime Cruz infuses Sleepless with real life issues and millenial foreboding. He goes on the charm offensive with his two leads, Glaiza de Castro (a Filipino dead ringer for Sandra Bullock if you close your eyes long enough to hear the laugh) and Dominic Roco (son of iconic 70s New Wave actor, Bembol Roco) and then miraculously, he leaves you hanging. In the new millenium, has anyone wondered why call centres have sprung up in an age when nobody sleeps? Did sleeplessness come first or did the call centres? Whatever it is, there is more nighttime activity than ever before, from dining, shopping to skateboarding and to old-fashioned sex. Scriptwriter Jenilee Chuaunsu has our two protagonists trying to forget themselves in their call centre job only to realise that it’s their loneliness that keeps them awake; she from an affair with a married guy and he with a young son from an ex-lover in a foreign country. It starts with sharing cup noodles at a 7-11 all-nighter, to nervous wishful thinking (via animated cartoons) till a liberating midnight skateboard run. The closeness and connection seem inevitable but then, this is the new millenium remember?!! Attachments are passe. Life is an onward motion that lulls you from one dream to the next. The problem is not even about being sleepless. It’s about wondering whether you are fully awake. The way out as always is the way in.

The Crescent Rising by Sheron Dayoc, Philippines 2015
The Crescent Rising by Sheron Dayoc, Philippines 2015

The Crescent Rising (Anak Mindanao)
by Sheron Dayoc
90mins, Philippines 2015

Best Documentary (NETPAC)
3rd Qcinema International Film Festival, Oct 22-31 2015
Quezon City, Philippines

While the proposed Bangsamoro (Moro Nation) Basic Law is being pondered in the Philippines parliament, Sheron Dayoc’s Crescent Rising documentary offers a timely portrait of the people the proposed legislation will affect. It traces the unrest in the Muslim-dominated Southern Philippines to the Jabidah Massacre of 1968, where Moro soldiers inside the Philippines Army were executed for being unwilling to engage in a plot to invade Sabah. Many Moros had Muslim relatives there. The documentary tries to be open-ended instead of being agit-prop in tone, so it even features an interview with someone who doesn’t believe that the Jabidah Massacre even took place. But the film spreads its net wide and explains the notion of Muslim jihad in a way not commonly seen in the world’s press. Instead of the media stereotype of religious aggression, the Bangsamoro practise jihad within its spiritual viewpoint of defending the faith. It sees the jihad as a continued resistance against Spanish colonisation (that lasted for over 300 years) when it tried to replace the Islamic culture of the Philippines that was already present since the 14th Century. The Spanish only arrived in the 16th Century. The film also has impressive Moro military camp footage (not normally seen in other films) and it tells candidly the fatigue that the nearly 50-year-old civil war has on its people. This explains the new push for peace amongst the female Moro population but when the Philippines national anthem is played at the end, Dayoc cleverly inserts footage of ordinary suffering and deprived Moro people, the very people that the nation is supposed to represent.

– Philip Cheah


Abbas Kiarostami

(22nd July 1940 - 4th July 2016)

Many of us at NETPAC also knew the man. And we all have our stories. Elegant, in the real sense of the word. Reserved, yes. Generous, also. In the extreme. He was always generous in his support of foreign film scholars and programmers. But more importantly, we all witnessed his support of new and indie filmmakers. And how many films carry a credit to his generous sharing of stories … We are all the richer for this.. Read More...

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