Nonoy L. Lauzon
[originally published in glitter.ph]
The film, so to speak, deserves better than a badge of a motion picture in regular distribution as it requires audiences receptive to equally daring, profound and stimulating subject and ideas.
If the award from the international federation of critics at Vladivostok in Russia for Jun Robles Lana’s Anino sa Likod ng Buwan is any indication, the film could be considered as one of the best, if not the country’s best for the year. But more than being best picture material, the indie drama with the troika of LJ Reyes, Luis Alandy and Anthony Falcon has to be esteemed for far more reasons other than the readily apparent.
More than the steamy sex scenes that have everyone raving, the real asset of the film is its reconstruction of a chapter in Philippine history that much of the world may have not known at all. The plight of internally displaced Filipinos has acquired a face that prompts one to realize that the world’s present refugee crisis has far even darker counterparts in the country in the 1990s at a time that its people was supposed to have won back democracy after the Marcos dictatorship.
The film poses a challenge to notions of the gains of the People Power Revolution and heavily hints at the serious need to examine the socio-political conditions of Post-Marcos Philippines, especially in the light of the lack of awareness from the ranks of today’s youth of the actual national situation brought about by their elders’ bouts with years of Martial Law.
In terms of style, the film proves to be inventive with its approximation of the feel and look of a film shot in a single long take and projected in 16mm print. Location shoot is shunned in favor of a sound stage just perfect for a harrowing tale of a threesome engaged in an erratic battle of wits – luring each other into each other’s lair of both personal and political demons. The film is structured as a juggling and ensemble of dramatic acts with each leading to another in a build-up of momentum for a volatile finale.
It is unlikely that the film gets to avail of a wide release. It is way far too daring, profound and stimulating to screen side by side with the usual larger-than-life blockbusters for one’s weekly trip to the cineplex. Sadly, in this nation, a regular theatrical run in the commercial circuit can never provide that at all.
With Anino sa Likod ng Buwan, it is further manifested that there is a more meaningful, nobler and worthier motivation to film history or depict history in film, other than petty and empty aspirations to mere epic. More commendable is its representation of a kind of gritty cinema that truly probes the national soul and confronts the traumas of one country’s past in order to arm its people with the weapon of enlightenment, by which to contend with the chaos and disorder of current society.