The Short List #8: "Firestarter" (2018, dir. Jill Urdaneta)

The Short List #8: “Firestarter”

A short film about reclaiming the narrative, sizzled with Angelina Kanapi as a cynic publicist.

The Short List #1: "Sweet Things" (2018, dir. Henry K. Norvalls)The Short List is our running list of notable short features available online. Every week, we share one short film which we think deserves to be watched by many. The short films included in our list can come from any country but has to be publicly available online. 

Click here to see the full list of short films—you can also submit your own.

While young Drew Barrymore is busy fire-bending in Connecticut, Marga, the PR mastermind behind five administration, have been starting fires just the same. For thirty years she has dictated where the masses’ minds should rest, whilst she and her colleagues spit fire in “happy hell”. Now, she wants out of the business of proliferation of lies—imaginatively spent by the freakshow (*scoff* the current administration *scoff*) she’s had to man.

But you can forget all of that. Jill Urdaneta’s “Firestarter” could be a film about anything, and I’d still watch it with wide eyes and a big stupid smile. That’s all Angelina Kanapi, who portrays Marga with every ounce of eye-rolling amusement and every drop of cynicism she could muster. There’s a long list of films I’ve seen Kanapi in in which I’ve embraced her zany antics with sheer delight (Lav Diaz’s “Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan” and Victor Villanueva’s “Patay Na Si Hesus” come to mind), but Urdaneta’s short seems engineered to point exactly why Kanapi is a thespic treasure and how easy she makes an audience befall her spell.

There’s a whole arc about summary killings, which makes way for a laugh-out-loud monologue about how the Chinese can make Filipinos love them. Marga’s advice:

The Short List #8: "Firestarter" (2018, dir. Jill Urdaneta)

The Short List #8: "Firestarter" (2018, dir. Jill Urdaneta)

That arc, which casts Kiko Matos as a macho dancer-turned-documentarian (obviously a surrogate for Mocha Uson), renders the story as another of those “reclaiming the narrative” types. This makes us oddly sympathetic to Marga’s plight, even if on paper it sounds we can’t ever.

All this makes for a short that’s willfully on-the-nose about the back-end machinations of our current government, and a legitimate crash course into why Angelina Kanapi is the greatest.

Watch Jill Urdaneta’s “Firestarter” on Viddsee.

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