J. Pilapil Jacobo
Mga Rebeldeng May Kaso is Raymond Red’s lovesong to that bygone era when independent cinema in the country could only be uncompromising in the pursuit of a movement apart from the mainstream, and the label “experimental” did indicate the subjection of film form to the intensest conundrum, and not just an apposition that camouflages the will to pretense.
The milieu that rises from this romantic premise is imbued further with the patina of radicality, as the Raymond Red figure played by Felix Roco is set to premiere a film in a festival of vanguard motion picture during the early days of the revolutionary government installed after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. Instructive in the depiction of a young indie film director as he protracts the editing of his closing piece is the genealogy of cinematic technology that runs its course between serialities and discontinuities along the residual, the dominant, and the emergent—rubrics delineated by the Marxist critic Raymond Williams in his cultural materialist theory on the superstructure and its material base.
When the cinematographic contraptions appear as objects of its day, far from looking as artifacts of technical memory from our presentist perspective, they are employed by the filmmaker in such a way that their utilization can distinguish the particularities of his intervention as a master machinist. In the end, the narrative that is foretold for our contemporary gaze can only be the death of such indefatigability, with almost all of Red’s vanguardism lost to the opportunistic ethos of most of his heirs today—an enamoration with a mainstream that only has so much surplus capital to suppress what is sustained by efforts to remain independent. Needless to say, even Red had to capitulate to this establishment, but only perhaps momentarily, to explore notions of being on the verge of the modern, always already aware of what becomes of the ideal, when “betrayed.”
While the premiere is botched in the end by punk riot—an allegory of the obligatory failure of the avant-garde—Raymond Red provides us with a glimpse of the gender of that independence, when the prince of the homosocial affair finally pays tribute to the Nick Deocampo avatar played by Epy Quizon, acknowledging “them” as diva of the movement, whose queer matriarchy was part-nurturance, part-ruthlessness. How can independent cinema in this late moment ever purport itself to be teeming with sui generis difference with this confession on the intimacy of alternative origins?