Nonoy L. Lauzon
Sinag Maynila, the indie filmfest founded by Cannes-winning director Brillante Mendoza and big-league producer Wilson Tieng, has just opened its edition for the year. Sure to stand out among the official selection is Mes de Guzman’s Dyamper. The film is so good that it should not have any difficulty landing in the main competition of any of the world’s accredited A-list festivals that it may subsequently choose to enter.
From the time he won the Grand Prize Golden Star in Marrakech for his short feature Batang Trapo (2002), followed by the splash he made in San Sebastian with the full-length feature Ang Daan Patungong Kalimugtong (2005), de Guzman has proven to be one of the very few Filipino filmmakers who truly deserve to be highly esteemed by the international film community.
In Dyamper, de Guzman exceeds all his past triumphs with an oeuvre that could put many films to shame in their stab at social realism. None of them compares with the verisimilitude by which the filmmaker has infused in his latest release to provide audiences a peek into an otherwise unknown backwoods of rural life in the country. In scope and scale, the film is hard to match even by the most revered of European films that have been the toast in recent years of the prestigious film festivals circuit worldwide.
Dyamper exudes the level of cinema only the likes of the Dardenne brothers, Michael Haneke, and Ken Loach can readily dish out. From the opening frame to its last, the film is every inch a winner with its tapestry of overlapping narratives, each with the stirrings of a morality tale played out against the vast canvas of circumstances indicative, incriminating, and indicting of the failed nation-state of the filmmaker’s affiliation and possible dismay and disaffection.
Unlike many of his contemporaries in the local indie scene, de Guzman has the keen eye for his milieu and the subjectivity to protest and make his stand against the harsh realities that his camera seeks to capture. Not content with offering a mere exposé, he provides immersed viewers with full-blown analysis and dissection of the entire apparatus of social order from which the plot of his film emanates.
Who would have thought that a slice-of-life look at a modus of banal criminality in the wilderness of the country’s northern hinterlands can divulge so much about the character of its people, their general contempt for the law, and an instance of government absenteeism that can only lead to repercussions of untoward devastation?
In employing a unique filmic methodology, de Guzman has come up with a feature that precisely elevates viewers’ engagement into enlightenment and act of resolve – the better for films of today to be truly relevant, fulfilling, and ultimately of great service to all of humanity.