Living from the Inside Out

Dance Dance Dance

Ambiguous but precise
Well versed on the law of motion
And the masters of myriad of images

- Guerilla is like a Poet by Jose Ma. Sison

This just might be a film that you’re anxious to see. But first, you must be aware that this is a film. Second, the film you will see is trying to make a film. Just like God’s Commandments: it’s basic, simple, and as easy as ABC.

Years When I Was a Child Outside is a film by John Torres. For me, it’s a fascinating film to see as it tries to make a documentary regarding the filmmakers own father, Rodolfo Torres. It’s a humble film. As the film thoroughly progresses, the voice of a tormented soul is heard. “The voices seem to explode”. Sison’s poem might be enough to explain it. And the voice - is the filmmaker itself. He communicates his personal thoughts, childhood memories, but most importantly, the disaster in his life: when his father admitted that he has another family.

While Torres was making a documentary during the typhoon Milenyo, he shifted his camera outside their house. The imagery of the film is a great deal of moving poetry. Subconsciously, you’re indulged. Then he tries to capture his sleeping father. The camera zooms. It shows the body of his father in close-up: head, feet, palm, chest, and belly. During his isolation, he decides to make a film. He uses his father’s body as an inspiration for themes: family, love, truth, and life.

Then small vignettes of chronicling stories unfold. First, there is a long sequence of a Moro Dance. It’s a rite of passage. The father insists his timorous son to dance. Then we get to see a love story, shot conceivably in black and white. It tracks a couple walking in the park while hearing love sonatas and poems of devotion. In reality, the conversation was more diverse. Then he also interviews Jose Ma. Sison. He sings Guerilla is like a Poet. Towards the end, he talks about how Manang Betty, their maid, taught him ABC. “B is for Bicycle. The one riding the bicycle is your father’s child outside”, as she pointed to the child in the street.

Years When I Was a Child Outside expands mind. It precisely captured countless images with relevance to its subject matter. It is distinct in its observation. The film might seem artificial and even a waste of time as it always shifts the subject of discussion. However, it was able to give a better insight into valuable issues – well perhaps not for us, but for the director. We are aware that he’s attempting to make a film. He even makes a film about Jesus. Although the film has its own shortcomings: there is a tendency to imagine its own significance. The filmmaker’s insistence of him being different and difficult to understand is preposterous. It’s a contradiction to the film’s precision and sensitivity.

I bet the film was heavily inspired by the French New Wave Movement. It’s a personal stance, rebellion perhaps as the film rejects the traditional cinema structure. The style – voice in particular - has a depth of character. Its courage to speak words of love, hatred, and utmost devotion to his Catholic Faith is seamless. It has its moments of vividness, but for how long will it be sustained?

Years When I was a child Outside is about making a film. It has already elicited in its myriad of lush scenarios, blossoming images and poetry. The film’s appeal is not selective. As the film is hoping that in time, people will say, oh this film is also about us.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

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