Top 10 Filipino indie films

Posted at 02/01/2010 11:38 PM | Updated as of 02/02/2010 7:22 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A group of young filmmakers recently named some of the best Filipino independent movies of 2009.

In a press statement, the Young Filmmakers of the Philippines (YFMP) announced what they thought were the freshest and most innovative indie films to have been released by last year.

"We look for something new. The script should be somewhat unconventional and unpredictable. The film [must depict] Filipino historical and cultural values," the YMFP said in a statement on their official Multiply page.

The group is composed of young filmmakers from different colleges and universities.

They have come up with various lists that honor the best talents in Philippine cinema.

Here is YMFP's list of must-see indie movies:

"100." What would you do if you had 100 days to live? Written and directed by Chris Martinez, the film "100" stars Mylene Dizon as a terminally ill cancer patient named Joyce who has barely 3 months left to live. Shaken by the thought that there may not be life after death, Joyce comes up with a list of things to do before she dies.

Her tasks range from the comical (running naked at the beach) to the macabre (picking out her funeral attire and coffin). Along with her best friend Ruby, ex-boyfriend Emil and her reluctant mother, Joyce finds out just what it means to be alive. "100" has won awards in various Asian film festivals.

   "Imburnal (Sewer)." YMFP describes it as an "epic experimental work" and "a cross between 'Gummo' and Andy Warhol." Set in the coastal slums of Davao City, the film sees the lives of two young boys, Allen Lumanog and Joel San Juan, who seem to be hunted by the area's death squads. The boys are looked after by Gigi (Jelieta Mariveles-Ruca). The film was written and directed by Sherad Anthony Sanchez.

 "Boses (Voices)." Musician Ariel (Coke Bolipata) offers a slum-dwelling 7-year-old Onyok (Julian Duque) violin lessons and soon discover's the child's immense musical talent. He also discovers that Onyok is ritually abused by a cruel father, named Ricky Davao, and has stayed mute to cope.

As Onyok struggles to find his voice through music, Ariel also learns to confront his own limitations. The film is written by Froi Medina and Rody Vera; and is produced and directed by Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil.

   "Melancholia." Lav Diaz became a one-man team for this film--he wrote, directed and edited the movie, and even served as its cinematographer. Melancholia has 3 parts and an epilogue, following the lives of Julian (Perry Dizon), Alberta (Angeli Bayani) and Rina (Malaya Cruz) who try to cope with the loss of loved ones. The film has a runtime of 7 hours. It won the 2008 Venice Film Festival Orizzonti prize for best feature film.

 "Haw-Ang (Before Harvest)." Set in a rural community couched within the Cordillera rice terraces, the film tells the story of Sister Adel, a light-hearted young nun who literally goes out of her way to teach indigenous children.

Though she breaks some of the tribe's rules while doing so, she eventually develops close friendships with the children and convinces the tribe's leader to build a schoolhouse. "Haw-Ang" takes off at the start of farming season and ends at the time when rice--and dreams--are ripe. The film is directed by Bong Ramos.

   "Jay." The film stars A-list celebrities Baro Geisler and Coco Martin who are worlds apart yet share the same name and sexual orientation. One is living, the other dead. One is making a documentary about the other's brutal murder. Both are gay, but only one of them has the chance to unravel the other's hidden life and secret love. A word of caution: do not believe everything you see. The film id directed by Francis Xavier Pasion.
 "Yanggaw." Featuring an all-star cast, the film is both horror and melodrama. "Yanggaw" focuses on the life of a family who struggle to keep their daughter, believed to have turned into a monster, safe from hostile and suspicious villagers. The characters all speak in Ilonggo throughout the film. Written and directed by Richard Somes, "Yanggaw" casts Ronnie Lazaro, former Playboy model Tetchie Agbayani, Joel Torre and Aleera Montalla.

 "Sisa." All Filipinos are familiar with the madwoman "Sisa" from Jose Rizal's epic novel "Noli Me Tangere." But who is she, really? "Sisa", directed by CJ Andaluz, is an exploration into the life of Narcisa "Sisa" Dalangin before she went crazy over the tragic murder of her young sons Basilio and Crispin.

Set in the Spanish occupation, Sisa (Jodi Sta. Maria) is a quiet girl who lives with her grandmother and catches the eye of two suitors, Pedro Magbuhos (Carlos Maceda) and Juanito (Christian Vasquez). When Sisa chooses Juanito, Pedro takes his revenge by having Sisa's grandmother imprisoned, and sets off a chain of events that will lead to Sisa's demise.

 "Hunghong sa Yuta." Written and directed by Arnel Mardoquio, the film is a heartwarming tale of a teacher who volunteers to educate deaf-mute Christian and Muslim children in a poor mountain community in Mindanao.

Cruz gets a front-row seat to the devastation that endless wars have brought to the area, and how his students' fathers force them to become fighters at a young age. Though war has ravaged the community and the children's lives, the teacher Vigo Cruz (who happens to be a gifted toy-maker) learns to bring joy and hope to the victims of war.

 "Serbis." A film by Cannes award-winning director Brillante Mendoza and written by Armando Lao, Serbis follows the Pineda family's struggles through bigamy, unwanted pregnancy, possible incest and the upkeep of a seedy movie theater that is both the living quarters and livelihood of the Pinedas.

A movie of rich subplots and interesting characters, "Serbis" has an all-star cast composed of Gina Pareño,Jacklyn Jose, Coco Martin, Julio Diaz and MercedsCabral. The film won the prestigious Palm d'Or award at the Cannes.