In celebration both of the National Arts Month and the UP Diliman Month, the Film Center of the University of the Philippines has the utmost pleasure to present “UPshots 6—Film Artists from Diliman.” The sixth edition of the UP Film Center’s annual cinema showcase in honor of the premier state university’s alumni who have successfully ventured into filmmaking highlights a most distinct collection of the most recently acclaimed works from today’s most active mainstream directors. Featured artists who are all proud products of UP Diliman are Maryo J. de los Reyes, Tikoy Aguiluz, Chito S. Roño, Joel C. Lamangan, Rory B. Quintos, Jeffrey Jeturian, Jerry Lopez Sineneng and Joyce Bernal.
The films in hallmark are among the season’s most consequential titles proving to all and sundry that through its distinguished alumni, the state university keeps on making an impact on national cinema as an essential aspect of the country’s evolving cultural and intellectual life.
Jerry Lopez Sineneng’s Soltera starring diamond star Maricel Soriano is Star Cinema’s best bet in reaping honors early last year. The opening night film, Joel C. Lamanagan’s Deathrow—a harrowing account of miscarriage of justice involving the wrongful conviction of a minor for a heinous crime he didn’t commit—is the past year’s only production from GMA Films, the company whose name is fast turning out to be solely synonymous with quality and prestige. Joyce Bernal’s Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw allows one a sense of the unmistakable magic touch that must only belong to the new kid on the directorial block with the most consistent box-office track record. Aside from being to date the highest-grossing Filipino film ever made, Rory B. Quintos’ Anak from another lady director deserves to be Oscar-bound especially with its commendable tribute to the overseas contract workers and variation on the painful tale of Filipino diaspora. Tikoy Aguiluz’ Biyaheng Langit and Chito S. Roño’s Laro sa Baga similarly provide local audiences a taste of Philippine cinema at its world-class best. The two films serve as Aguiluz and Roño’s respective output after receiving international accolades. Maryo J. de los Reyes’ Gusto Ko Nang Lumigaya is an explosive drama very much timely and socially relevant. It is the latest effort from one of the local movie industry’s most prolific megmen. Finally, Jeffrey Jeturian’s Tuhog has all the undeniable attributes of a cinematic triumph. With the resonance of Pagdating sa Dulo (by the late Ishmael Bernal, another UP alumnus who has never ceased to bring honor to his alma mater even way beyond his lifetime) made three decades earlier, the film prompts an examination and indictment of the universal culture of exploitation underlying the corrupt enterprise of film. One could hear here echoes of Ingmar Bergman’s pronouncement in a recent interview. Saying that he is finished making films, the Swedish master quipped that he has “left the branch of butchery and whoring” in a statement pregnant with familiar and obvious analogy.
While the country’s foremost learning institution is yet to embark on a really big leap in the full cultivation and elevation of cinema into a veritable scholastic discipline, the gains of its graduates in the field could ultimately be the impetus. In this light, UP Film Center’s “UPshots” simply functions as a fitting occasion to pay them homage and emulate their accomplishments as true stars and heroes of the academic community.