Cultural Pollution

I am sleepy
Art is free. It can assume different forms. A crumpled paper on the sidewalk can have a magnetic appeal of sudden wonder to some. Films are the channels to express artistry. It is also open to assessment. As a critic, we try to scrutinize films with a neutral stance. We have no ploy to denigrate the efforts of the filmmakers. For now, I will try to trivialize you with the film (seen on its own merits). Imburnal (Sewer) is a film directed and written by Sherad Anthony Sanchez. It uses the technique of guerilla filmmaking. The lack of some material and mechanical elements in the film is based from avant-garde/experimental film genre. Actually, it is not anything new to the world of cinema. It could be classified as Paracinema.

It is quite good to see almost fifty people watching on its screening in the recent Cinema One Originals Festival held in Robinsons Galleria. It is almost four hours long. Before the first half of the film, almost twenty percent of the audience has left. Three-fourths of the film is like a milestone for the few remaining viewers (A golden laurel leaf could have been given to us). It is important for us critics to observe the audience. We want to see the reactions on their faces. I hear two people conversing in each sequence and they provide interpretations of the images shown (yeah, I hear it). Some laugh with the candidness of the characters. Others look very hopeful for something that could gratify the entire film experience. Well, films are open to the act of construing. Beyond that, the film is intended to awaken our judgment on the merits presented.

Imburnal employs a non-linear narrative and is demarcated with the use of abstracting techniques. The film is about the lives of adolescents in a destitute locality in Davao. Most sequences are shot in a septic sewage of Punta Dumalog. It is their preferred hangout. They converse in a Visayan dialect, much of it about fornication, phalluses, crotch hair, to name a few. There are also insinuations of political killings, pestilence, and homosexuality.

Imburnal employs disturbing imagery, sound and whiff to create a shocking experience. You might be disgusted with some parts that are exhibited. They collect cockroaches from the sewer and gather them inside a bottle. They bathe them in the nearest ocean with soap. Simulated sexual activities happen inside the culvert. I believe it aims to contravene the basic mores and Filipino sensibilities. It could be all true that it has merely tackled a reality within a city marked by poverty and inferior living situation.

The film is like a 'movement' of like-minded artists using shock value and humor in their work. Imburnal’s approach in its retailing of an art film has refused to take an easy approach to cinematic creativity. It has typical features of an experimental film such as non-narrative, impressionistic or poetic approaches to the film's construction and so forth. Sometimes, it is hard to give merits just for ‘shock art’ sake. It is the safest kind of art that can get the attention for most cult audiences. Imburnal is a film that will be enjoyed once you abandon the prescribed taste for most films. You will just realize that they become a sensation in their own right. Experimental filmmaking become predictable in its own terms. The shock value seems to have issipated after seeing the same thing over and over again. Art has become the excuse, not the ideal.


Charlie Koon's Rating:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Art has become the excuse, not the ideal."

Amen, sir. Filmmakers like Sanchez and Raya Martin should stop basking in their self-proclaimed greatness, and actually CONTRIBUTE something to cinema -- instead of recycling references they've picked up from other films in an effort to prove their own worldliness.

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