The Philippines’ first Palme d’Or was awarded at the turn of the 21st century. The film: a thirteen-minute journey with a drifter (Ronnie Lazaro) haunted by the shadows that plague the city he chose to brood about. The filmmaker: a thirtysomething with both idealism and defeat fresh in his mind.
The short is called “Anino”. Raymond Red is right to name it as such, for its main character–the city of Manila, not the drifter–has shadows lurking in every corner. You see it at the periphery of your vision: the blind many, the systemic injustices both tiny and large, and the unique desperation that reeks from its barren canals. It’s an obvious callback to Lino Brocka, with dimmed neons and sharp-as-ever claws.
At the center is Lazaro’s down-on-his-luck photographer, who unwittingly moved to the city in the hopes of earning money. “There’s no money here,” quips the man in black, played by John Arcilla, who taunts him as though life is but a simulation. Maybe it is?
Red feels aware of this, too. All thirteen minutes of his short feel free-flowing, like water trickling from one stream to the next. It’s easy to lose grip of what the film is about, but the way Red ends it shows a filmmaker of such resolve. What you take away from it is entirely your own and behooves you to deeply introspect its questions.
Along the way, we meet street children, corrupt cops, and a particularly irate man (Eddie Garcia). These people, like their city, are haunted by their own shadows.
When the man in black confronts the drifter about taking photos, he exclaims: “You are stealing their souls.” You can say the same thing about Red. And you can feel a strong sense that he’s at peace with that.
Watch the full short by hitting the “play” button above. Or by using the embedded video below.
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