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PHL short films join 34th Singapore International Film Festival

STILL from All This Wasted Space by Cris Bringas

THE SINGAPORE International Film Festival (SGIFF), which has been held annually since 1987, will take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 10 this year. This 34th edition boasts 101 films from all over the world, four of which are short films by Filipino filmmakers.

Competing in SGIFF’s Southeast Asian Short Film Competition are All This Wasted Space by Cris Bringas, Primetime Mother by Sonny Calvento, Cross My Heart Hope to Die by Sam Manacsa, and The River That Never Ends by JT Trinidad.

Emily J. Hoe, SGIFF executive director, said at the online media launch that the theme for the year is “tapestry.”

“It’s textured, intertwined, reflecting the diversity of perspectives through film, through threads that come together to show stories. Film connects us all, to each other and to the world,” said Ms. Hoe.

FILIPINO NARRATIVESCris Bringas’ All This Wasted Space is an experimental documentary that follows Nica, who returns to her mother’s home to retrieve an item to place in her mother’s coffin. The film aims to trace her invisible personal traumas as a queer woman and the hidden historical traumas present in the physical space where she returns.

“Going back means confronting a buried past, remembering a history of abuses,” the film’s director told BusinessWorld via Zoom. “It’s a contemplation of the meaning of home,” said Mr. Bringas.

JT Trinidad’s fictional short The River That Never Ends, which premiered in QCinema last year, is also a reflection on space. It centers on transwoman Baby who struggles to keep up when the rest of her life is so easily swept away, much like how the Pasig River she lives next to being overwhelmed by the construction of an expressway.

Sonny Calvento, whose short film Primetime Mother starring Meryll Soriano is also in the competition, felt honored to share that his work told “in a very Filipino way” finds itself in the international film scene, starting with the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year.

It is a film about a Filipino gameshow “complete with dance showdowns and melodramatic contestant life stories,” he said in a Facebook post. The fictional story follows how their fortitude, tenacity, and devotion to the maternal role are tested in an exploitative gameshow audition.

Meanwhile, Sam Manacsa’s Cross My Heart Hope to Die tackles worker exploitation and love through the character of Mila, who struggles with unpaid work and finds comfort in constant phone calls with a love interest. Her film debuted at the Venice Short Film Competition earlier this year.

Mr. Bringas, who is proud of his and his fellow Filipino filmmakers’ ability to showcase Filipino narratives on the world stage, believes that cinema exists as a form of keeping records.

“As a documentarist, my perspective is that filmmaking is about taking up space; reclaiming space. The role of keeping records is important,” he said. — Brontë H. Lacsamana

Neil Banzuelo

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