It looks like that the new crop of indie film directors are veering away from poverty as thesis, which used to be the metier of director Lino Brocka. Think Insiang, Maynila Sa Kuko Ng Liwanag, etc. that Brocka helmed far more on elevated plane. I would rule out Brocka as having set the sickening trend presently taking place in the mindset of wannabe-filmmakers who are obsessed by the folly of getting noticed and be anointed even by the most insignificant filmfest abroad for that “internationale” smell.
Roderick Cabrido’s Tuos is obviously a labored attempt to appropriate almost an entirely different subject matter which puts most of the uninformed centrists of Manila’s culturati long isolated from the rich heritage of our pre-colonial times on edge: for a very good reason. My caveat though is that the magical film at hand was a take-off, if not generic, to a highly exhaustive documentary of the same subject matter done earlier by Kara David for GMA’s I-Witness. But I’m not taking it against Cabrido’s creative team because the motive to show something different from the usual was worth all the efforts.
I was somehow blown off by Tuos. Most of those who watched it at the recent Cinemalaya filmfest have spoken of its brilliance when it won for Superstar Nora Aunor hands down the Audience Choice Award. The entry also won Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Original Musical Score and Best Sound.
Of the films that Aunor has done along the realm of indies, Tuos is to me the most noteworthy to be sent to the coming Oscars for Best Foreign Language category, barring heavyweight contenders – foremost of which are Dante Mendoza’s Ma’ Rosa, a classic treatise on poverty porn executed however with admirable élan, and Erik Matti’s Honor Thy Father, a highly cathartic epic on the networking scams in the country.
Compared to these two films, Tuos is pure cinematic art bringing to light an integral part of our rich cultural heritage that could hold a candle to Ifugao’s Hudhud and Maranao’s Darangan, declared World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
So now I’m challenging the local dyed-in-the-wool Noranians and those based abroad to gather together enough passion if they still have it, courage and substantial funds, the currency to move heaven and earth for Tuos—first and foremost to get it shortlisted before it’s too late at the local Oscars’s screening committee of the Film Academy of the Philippines headed by Leo Martinez.
For Tuos to qualify for the shortlist review, the film must be shown commercially (meaning in a theatrical run, take note Noranians!) for one straight week of showing even in just one movie house.
We know that art films like Tuos and even that of another contender Lav Diaz’s Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis could not for sure stand a continuous week of showing, so the issue of funds come here. Commercial cinema operators do not pull movies out of their scheduled regular screenings due to poor box-office returns only if you compensate them a daily “maximum guarantee fee” as maintenance for at least seven days.
So Noranians, director Roderick Cabrido and La Aunor’s manager Boy Palma, take it from here. Time is of the essence. Take the deal before it’s too late. Tuos might just be what the snooty Oscar jurors have been waiting for to see in the longest time that they have been snubbing all Philippines entries in the past.