In what may be one of the strongest years in international cinema, the Philippines was able to come out with great, affecting films with quite a few pleasant surprises. Check out who made the list for Katipunan’s top films of the year.
Director: Loy Arcenas
A sardonic, ludic look into the Filipino psyche, Loy Arcenas’ REquieme! weaves themes of loss and disconcerting cultural norms into a brilliant dark comedy, with superb performances from charismatic leads Sharmaine Buencamino and Anthony Falcon.
6. I Do Bidoo Bidoo
Director: Chris Martinez
Driven by its sheer charm and audacity, I Do Bidoo Bidoo one-ups Mamma Mia! and then some. The cast, with its undeniable chemistry and verve, seamlessly weaves Apo Hiking Society’s classic songs into a classic story about love, marriage and the bumps along the way.
5. Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay
Director: Antoinette Jadaone
A mockumentary of the weirdest kind, Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay takes metafiction to a whole new level. Antoinette Jadaone shamelessly puts tongue in cheek by finally placing horror cult legend Lilia Cuntapay in the cinematic spotlight—to hilarious and even heartwarming results.
4. Give Up Tomorrow
Director: Michael Collins
This harrowing and visceral piece fearlessly takes a second look at the controversial Chiong trials. The film doesn’t need to do much as the Philippines’ naturally absurd justice system and intrusive media turn the drama on its head, leaving two families to fend for themselves in their search for justice.
3. Ang Nawawala
Director: Marie Jamora
Marie Jamora’s playful ode to young love is all it’s hyped up to be and more. Chock-full of vibrant music and poignant performances (Dominic Roco and Dawn Zulueta are standouts), Ang Nawawala defies local independent film tropes by telling the story of lost twenty-somethings finding their way in the world while smoking pot, wearing plaid and rocking out to great music.
2. MNL 143
Director: Emerson Reyes
Unconventional storytelling and modest, slice-of-life moments bring a quiet, understated charm to Emerson Reyes’ film about the daily grind of quixotic FX driver Ramil as he drives through Manila hoping to reencounter an old flame.
Director: Jun Lana
The little film that could, Bwakaw surprised both local and international audiences with its great humor and even greater heart. Eddie Garcia is a force to reckon with as he embodies the quiet solitude of old Rene. What makes Bwakaw the film of the year, however, is director Jun Lana’s careful storytelling and the unabashedly Filipino spirit that radiates from every frame.