‘IMBISIBOL’ SETS STANDARD FOR SINAG MANILA FILM FEST

View From The Wing – ‘Imbisibol’
‘IMBISIBOL’ SETS STANDARD FOR SINAG MANILA FILM FEST
by Pablo A. Tariman

The maiden edition of the Sinag Maynila Independent Film Festival is off to a very substantial beginning with Lawrence Fajardo’s “Imbisibol” which is about the plight of undocumented Filipino migrant workers in Japan.

Sinag Maynila founders Brilliante Mendoza and Wilson Tieng. The film fest is high on social issues and encouraging on advocacies.

Sinag Maynila founders Brilliante Mendoza and Wilson Tieng. The film fest is high on social issues and encouraging on advocacies.

Like it or not, “Imbisibol” (adapted from the one-act play of Herlyn Gail Alegre) is one film that projects the true spirit of independent films. With taut direction by Lawrence Fajardo and exemplary performance from the cast, “Imbisibol” is a riveting film that explodes with heart-rending images of harassed Filipino workers in Japan.

The film might as well be the symbol of what is uniquely Filipino about the Sinag Maynila film fest founded by Brilliante Mendoza and Wilson Tieng of Solar Films.

Mendoza said during the opening ceremonies of the festival that this year’s choices of films will be high on social issues and very encouraging on films with specific social advocacies.

In the same vein, the film fest founder acknowledged the presence of acclaimed filmmaker Lav Diaz who he said helped shaped the Filipino identity in prestigious festivals abroad.

As for “Imbisibol,” the film has many things going for it.

It is a very quiet film for one and it is to the film’s credit that it hired a few of the most sensitive actors in town.

With Japan’s winter season as its backdrop, “Imbisibol” showcases the best of Filipino actors.

Ces Quesada in "Imbisibol." Sensitivity becomes her.

Ces Quesada in “Imbisibol.” Sensitivity becomes her.

Playing migrant workers always on the run from Japanese immigration police are veteran stage actors Bernardo Bernardo, Ricky Davao with Allen Dizon, Ces Quesada and JM de Guzman.

Quite poignant is the portrayal of Bernardo as the multi-tasking worker suddenly seized by thoughts of home. His exchange with Quesada about aliases Filipinos use to evade immigration detectives elicited laughter from the audience.

Meanwhile, Ricky Davao carves another multi-layered portrait of the Filipino migrant worker while Allen Dizon manages to portray a pathetic portrait of male entertainers past their prime.

There is no ignoring the fact that Quesada and De Guzman were at their best in the film ending highlighted by an apt film scoring that dramatized what was remarkable about the Filipino spirit. Quesada is a towering portrait of a Filipino landlady in Japan who does her best to help Filipino workers even at the risk of losing her husband and family. This is the first time one is drawn to her special kind of sensitivity and the pathos she creates makes her a special actor in this film.

Ensemble acting at its best with Bernardo Bernardo, JM de Guzman and Allen Dizon.

Ensemble acting at its best with Bernardo Bernardo, JM de Guzman and Allen Dizon.

As for De Guzman, he represents of what is good and decent about Filipino workers abroad. Driven to the wall by an envious Filipino co-worker, De Guzman delivers powerful acting by just being the character he is.

As it is, “Imbisibol” is a well-directed and well-acted film and it should help bring consciousness about the plight of |Filipinos abroad.

Other films showing in all SM cinemas as part of the Sinag Maynila film fest are Balut Country” by Paul Sta. Ana, “Bambanti” by Zig Dulay, “Ninja Party” by Jim Libiran, and “Swap” by Rempton Zuasola.

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