Philippines

Arnold Is a Model Student

(Arnon pen nakrian tuayang)

Inspired by the Bad Student movement calling for educational reform in Thailand, Arnold Is a Model Student follows the titular protagonist as he joins forces with the rebellious Bee and an underground syndicate of misfits helping students cheat on their exams. This accessible yet subversive debut feature from Sorayos Prapapan pivots deftly between moments of absurdist humour and heartfelt, urgent gestures of cinematic protest. Combining dramatic details from his own childhood with footage from contemporary news and social media, Prapapan acknowledges a continuum of generational experience and the interplay between reality and fiction.

Animistic Apparatus presents an overnight screening of Lav Diaz’s epic film—projected outdoors continuously and ending around sunrise—as a nocturnal offering to the spirits of place and the ecology of visible and invisible beings of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Director

Run Time

485 mins

The Halt

(Ang Hupa)

The Halt is set in a phantasmagoric dystopian future where madmen control Manila after massive volcanic eruptions have plunged Southeast Asia into darkness. Berlin, Venice and Locarno award-winning director Lav Diaz’s latest film is a potent sci-fi epic. Holding a mirror to present-day despots and invasive surveillance, it concentrates power in the hands of a solitary young woman. Spinning a tale that urges recovery from collective cultural amnesia, The Halt is an immersive and truly one-of-a-kind experience.

Introduction by filmmaker Lav Diaz

There will be a 15 minute interval during the screening

Director

Country

Run Time

276 mins

The episodically connected lives of four college friends unfold throughout the incipient martial law years, as they struggle to define their sexual and professional desires and how best to attain them. An observational drama that does not shy away from topics such as abortion, prostitution, patriarchy, homosexuality, military violence and the repressive social conditioning of collective imaginaries, this understated feminist inquiry into the possibilities of sustaining queer kinships stands out as a singular achievement of woman-centred Philippine cinema. —Letitia Calin

Country

Run Time

140 mins

Subtitles or a love poem in plain language is about creative acts and their origins, both subconscious and deliberate, from childhood and in what comes after. A silent, single-channel video, it operates on miscombinations of text and image. The text is a series of personal narrations, the images are b/w analog photographs taken over the last few years, and there is no audio to make space for the viewers’ own voices reading in their own heads. —Lesley-Anne Cao

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Run Time

9 mins

Set in 1987, soon after the People Power Revolution which led to the fall of president Marcos, Nervous Translation follows eight-year-old Yael. A shy and uneasy girl, she listens endlessly to the cassette tapes recorded by her father, who has spent years away from home working in Saudi Arabia. When she hears an advertisement for a pen that will give her a ‘wonderful life’, she decides to spend all her savings on this miracle pen.

Yael’s world is small and tender—she likes to play cooking on her mini stove—but the real world comes knocking: a typhoon approaches the Philippines. Giving a voice to this quiet girl in a perceptive, playful film full of jump cuts, sensitive sound design, ’80s music and even an odd surrealist intermezzo, Seno empathetically captures the innocence and uncertainty of a child who doesn’t yet understand the world, although she is surrounded by it.

Introduction by filmmaker Shireen Seno

UK premiere of Nervous Translation presented jointly by BFMAF and Tate Modern

The film will be preceded by the 2018 Berwick New Cinema award presentation

Director

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Run Time

90 mins

A man hides out in the mountains after accidentally killing a priest. But the area, a battlefield for soldiers and rebels, is far from safe. The fateful location is visualised with a mixture of oppressive, moving and still, black-and-white archival images.

Director

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Run Time

14 mins

Big Boy is Shireen Seno’s first feature film. Shot on Super 8 film, it tells the story of Julio and the business venture initiated by his parents. Julio’s parents wish him to become an ideal man according to their standards: to be tall like an American. Everything seems to work out fine, until one day Julio stops growing. Big Boy chronicles the growth of a family, the myths of progress that consume them, and the inherent violence in war, colonisation and coming into being.

Q&A with filmmaker Shireen Seno

Director

Country

Run Time

89 mins

Lukas the Strange is surreal, dreamlike and wonderfully bizarre. Reality and cinematic fiction blur when a film crew comes to young Lukas’ town. With a strange and often mythological narrative, where memories are traded for bodily scars and people can become statues, the film touches on personal identity, complicated familial relationships and the slippage of memory.

Q&A with filmmaker John Torres

Director

Country

Run Time

85 mins

Years When I Was a Child Outside

(Taon noong ako’y anak sa labas)

Years When I Was a Child Outside is a meta-film following Torres’ perspective as the son of best-selling self-help author Rodolfo Torres, whose instructional books and tapes made in early 1980s Philippines aimed to ‘help raise brighter children’. Upon learning of his father’s secret family, the narrator embarks on a quest to create order from this chaos.

Q&A with filmmaker John Torres

Director

Country

Run Time

100 mins