Raya Martin ♦ 96 mins ♦ Experimental ♦ Philippines
Definitely not for the uninitiated nor those averse to cinematic deviations, Raya Martin’s debut feature titled Maicling pelicula nañg ysañg Indio Nacional or A short film about the Indio Nacional in English is a breath of fresh air for more seasoned cinephiles in a place where creativity and depth is generally frowned upon. Martin’s grassroots approach to this feature, which is nothing short of admirable artistic spunk – consisting of loosely connected black and white colonial period depictions of the common Filipino or Indios; a complete lack of scenic audio, be it dialogue or ambient sounds, save for a scene where a restless woman wakes her husband up to tell her a story; and intertitles obviously typed up in a computer and slapped in post prod – all do seem pointless and incoherent on the surface. But rest assured that Maicling pelicula nañg ysañg Indio Nacional is more than what it appears to be. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not a sloppy, pretentious piece conjured up by a naive bleeding-heart UP kid. It is, to me at least, a powerful commentary on why we, the Filipinos, are what we are: feelings, thoughts, words, actions and everything else.
To elucidate this assertion though, would defang this introspection of introspections. To dumb it down is akin to defeating the purpose it was made in the first place. So to sum it up without having to resort to spoonfeeding, I advise those who are up to the challenge of viewing this thickly layered obra maestra (masterpiece) to take note of every element in place because nothing in this film occurs by chance. Everything we perceive was designed to invoke a thought, a feeling, an interpretation. Feel free to try to decipher what Martin wanted to impart to us. And when everything begins to make sense, when each dot is connected to a line and we finally see the forest for the trees, remember what Kuya (Big brother) Bodjie said near the film’s start: “Ipangako mo, huwag mong sasabihin kahit kanino…” (Promise me, you won’t tell anyone about this…), because the nuggets hidden in Maicling pelicula nañg ysañg Indio Nacional – much like our Inang Bayan‘s likas na yaman (Motherland’s natural wealth) – while gracious in accommodating foreign interest and investment, are there for the Filipino people, the Indios Nacional, first and foremost. And we, ideally, should be able to safeguard, to cultivate and to use them wisely.
Director: Raya Martin | Producer: Raya Martin Arleen Cuevas (co-producer) | Writer: Raya Martin | Cast: The Barasoain Kalinangan Theater Group Bodjie Pascua Lemuel Galman Mark Joshua Maclang Russell Ongkeko Suzette Velasco | Camera: Maisa Demetillo | Music: Khavn | Editing: Anne Esteban Louie Quirino | Production Design: Joy Domingo | Art Direction: Vincent Viray | Sound: Tad Ermitaño Joe Hernandez | Production: Atopic films The Hubert Bals Fund of the Rotterdam Festival | Distribution: Shellac Distribution (France, 2008) |Year: 2005 | Length: 96′ | Genre: Experimental Silent Social Commentary | Spoken Language: Tagalog | Subtitles: Original intertitles (Stylized/Hispanic Tagalog) Hardcoded subtitles (English) | Country: Philippines