Once, an acquaintance asked me what was on my movie playlist. At that time, I was so into Korean films. Well, honestly, I have yet to outgrow my K-addiction. As I always say, once bitten by the K-bug, you can’t go back.
Back then, my watch list was probably as long as the queue at an MRT station because I kept adding more. I’ve always been fascinated with sageuk (historical dramas). Their beautiful hanbok (Korean traditional clothes), the hanok (Korean traditional houses), and the political turmoils during the Joseon period – became delicious fodder for my cinematic hunger.
A Frozen Flower was my first introduction to sageuk films, and probably my first BL film. Then, there was War of the Arrows, Warriors of the Dawn, The Treacherous, The Admiral, The King and the Clown (where I met my OG flower boy, Lee Joon Gi), among others.
I’ve seen The Throne, a film retelling about Crown Prince Sado who died after he was confined in a rice chest on the orders of his father King Yeongjo. I followed it with The Fatal Encounter, which is about King Jeongjo, the son of the unfortunate crown prince.
When I rattled off the films I’ve seen, was watching at the moment, and would be watching, that acquaintance scoffed at me and asked me if I didn’t have any other interests. He told me why don’t I try watching this and that Western series, as well as some superhero movies.
Before I could stop my mouth from running, I told him my movie preference was none of his business. I can watch whatever I like, thank you very much.
Truth is, I do love superhero movies. I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. I watch the so-called “bakya” movies, even those “kabit” movies. I geek out on anime movies. I love those good-triumphing-against-evil kinds of movies, as well as action-packed films that put viewers on the edge of their seats.
When I want to cry a little, I go for tearjerker films. Often, I’d look for humanity-centered films that make me believe there are still good people out there doing good things for the greater good.
I’m no film critic. I probably can’t explain what makes a film good or bad. But the best films for me are those that grab my soul, those that make me think and reflect on life, leaving me to question my humanity, and those that take me through a roller coaster of emotions. A film that lingers long after the end credits have stopped rolling.
There is another reason I watch Korean films. I use them to practice what I’ve learned from my Korean language classes. Watching movies in foreign languages is one of the most fun ways to learn a new language. (Another way is through videoke; I do practice reading Korean characters while singing at videoke).
Through watching, I become familiar with conversational talks. Films set in contemporary times reflect the current street lingo, and the speech nuisances that people use in their daily lives; while historical films provide me with formal speech. Films also give a glimpse into the daily life of people and share visual cues that provide context to certain phrases or words.
In the Philippines, we have several film festivals that screen foreign films. There’s the Japan Film Festival (formerly Eiga Sai), the CineEuropa, and the French Film Festival.
This year, after two years of online editions, Pelicula Spanish Film Festival returns to on-site screenings this October 5 to 16 at the Shangrila Plaza cinemas, Cine Adarna at UP Diliman, and Instituto Cervantes Intramuros branch. For its 21st edition, it expands its reach in Malaysia and Australia.
The Spanish film festival features more than 20 films, opening with El buen patrón (Fernando León de Aranoa, 2021).
If you like comedies, try to catch La boda de Rosa (Icíar Bollaín, 2020), El test (Dani de la Orden, 2022), Con quién viajas (Martín Cuervo, 2021). There are also documentaries such as A las mujeres de España María Lejárraga (Laura Hojman, 2022), as well as dramas Maixabel (Icíar Bollaín, 2021) or El olvido que seremos (Fernando Trueba, 2020), thriller La hija (Manuel Martín Cuenca, 2021), and Latin American films like the Colombian documentary Jinetes del Paraíso (Talia Osorio Cardona, 2020) and the Panamenian comedy Algo azul (Mariel García Spooner, 2021).
Don’t miss the Official Competition, a comedy starring Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, and Oscar Martinez. Directed by Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, it is a satire on filmmaking and the ever-conflicting creative process of putting together a worthy film along with the laundry list of issues that go with it. In sum, it pokes fun at the moviemaking business but also shows such a great deal of passion for the cinematic craft.
This year, there will be short feature films coming from the Basque Country, and a special selection of classic Spanish films to be shown online, including Esa pareja feliz (Juan Antonio Bardem and Luis García Berlanga, 1951), Muerte de un ciclista (Juan Antonio Bardem, 1953), Mamá cumple cien años (Carlos Saura, 1979), and El sur (Víctor Erice, 1983).
The festival also premieres Con tu latido. Fillipinas canta a Aute, the tribute film about Spanish-Filipino musician and artist Luis Eduardo Aute, will be screened on October 11, at Instituto Cervantes (Intramuros branch).
Pelicula culminates with the screening of the Audience Choice Award, the film with the highest votes from the audience, on October 16.
One of the most successful film festivals of Instituto Cervantes globally, Pelicula showcases a variety of acclaimed Spanish films while fostering better communication between cultures through filmmaking and cultural exchanges. It aims to connect both Spanish and Filipino cultures and audiences through a well-curated selection of award-winning films.
For updates on the Festival, please visit the website of the Festival (https://pelikula.org) or the Facebook page of Instituto Cervantes de Manila: www.facebook.com/InstitutoCervantesManila.