Thursday, August 25, 2005


Eat My Words NBy Marra PL Lanot
Lasponggols, a Review

Filipino moviemakers complain that the Philippine movie industry is dying. They blame exorbitant taxes, high cost of production, government negligence, and censorship.
Other than the above excuses, however, they refuse to admit that most recent local movies are of bad quality, show emaciated or no imagination, and underestimate the taste and intelligence of the audience. It's often action without action or story, comedy without laughs or story, love story without passion or story, and drama without conflict or story.

Producers and directors may gripe forever. They apparently do not realize that moviegoers, who have grown up together with foreign and local cinema, now try to avoid trash. Entertainment seekers have seen enough of bomba films, but they're looking for a story. They've watched a lot of escapist romances, and they're looking for a story.

Mainstream producers and directors might not be aware that a new breed of Filipino filmmakers has emerged. Thanks to Cinemalaya, the Philippine Independent Film Festival, organized by the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

One very interesting entry was Lasponggols , written and directed by the young Sigfreid Barros Sanchez. He has written scripts for television, for advertising, and for the mainstream movie industry, and megged a music television video. Lasponggols is his directorial debut for a full-length feature film. (Incidentally, it's also this writer's first film appearance as a bit player in said film.)

Lasponggols is about a clapper (Epy Quizon) and a utility boy (Dwight Gaston) who dream of becoming filmmakers. When they toy with the camera, they accidentally see through the lens a drug-dealing incident. The two, bringing with them a unit van containing cameras, film stocks, lights, and other equipment, run for their lives when the gun-toting criminals chase them and kill their companions.

Quizon and Gaston hide in a far-flung barrio and pretend they are movie directors. The whole barrio people flock to the two "directors," audition for roles, and offer their services. Materialism and deceit spread, and the sleepy place jumps alive. It's a harsh look at Filipino culture and mentality, in general, and at the move industry, in particular. Shades of Himala , where fame and fortune invite corruption.

Low production budget manifests itself in poor lighting and inconsistent quality of sound. Also, some scenes are extended, which makes the film quite long.

Technical flaws aside, however, Lasponggols is stamped by good acting, especially by Epy Quizon and Dwight Gaston. Countless throwaway lines spike the film, but the message is not lost on the audience -- which is the lack of respect and compensation for the "little people" in the movie industry. Only truth and understanding can save humanity.

Sanchez rivets on his idea, his vision, and doesn't let go, does not forget his focus. Although the film may be described as a film of ideas, some cinematic touches are memorable. For instance, the videoke scene in a barrio, the close-up shots of some characters, which are so expressive even in silence, the night takes which augur ominous occurrences, and the scenes of people from all walks of life.

Gripping is the feel of the film. For the first time in the history of Philippine cinema, a whole feature film is devoted to the real experiences, heartaches, and aspirations of almost-invisible workers of the movie industry. It's not just an ordinary advocacy thing from an outsider looking in. The soul of Lasponggols comes from the very life of its filmmakers.

It's a brave work in that it boldly digs into the root problems of filmmaking without bowing to sacred cows. In fact, allusions are irreverently made to the VIPs of the industry. Despite the critical glimpse, however, the moviegoer in the end shares with the director his idea of salvation. That is, individual and social change is possible in this world.

If only everyone were like director Sigfreid Barros Sanchez, who has the heart of a child, the enthusiasm and energy of an activist, and the compassion of a human being, this world may be a better place. As scriptwriter Ricky Lee said, Lasponggols is the true spirit of an indeed film.
Indie? Indie for indigent, 'indi matapos-tapos, and, yes, independent, free and liberating. High five for the whole cast and crew of Lasponggols ! (For comments, write to


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