Film festival showcases the New Filipino Cinema

Nicholas Varela as Mike in 'Aberya'

Nicholas Varela as Mike in ‘Aberya’

Although overlooked by most film festivals, the movie industry of the Philippines has exploded like fireworks over Manila in recent years, lighting up the local cinema scene with some of the sexiest, most daring, and raw movies on the international stage.

This year, the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which screens June 28 to July 15, spotlights a handful of the best from the new Filipino cinema, including works by established hitmaker Erik Matti, horror auteur Rico Maria Ilarde, as well as first-time filmmakers such as Gino M. Santos.

The line-up includes:

“Aberya” (2012)
Director: Christian Linaban
A Filipino-American boxer on a pleasure trip, a prostitute on a mission, a local drug dealer experimenting with time travel, and a social climber all cross paths in Cebu, the beautiful Philippine southern island, in this deliriously imagined occult superhero movie.

“The Fridge” (2012)
Director: Rico Maria Ilarde
Never before has a haunted appliance had this many tentacles and craved this much human blood. Horror director Rico Maria Ilarde offers up a gleeful, gory, sexy horror movie about an evil refrigerator that terrorizes a young woman.

“The Animals” (2012)
Director: Gino M. Santos
Set in an ultra-luxe, gated community and marinated in money, this teen party movie is an indictment of the 1 percent that has the Philippines in a death grip. The film chronicles a day in the life of Jake, Trina, and Alex, who go through the musings that every kid in high school has to deal with. All Jake wants to do is have a good time, Alex just wants to fit in, and Trina simply wants more. A vivid picture of high school life after the final bell rings, as well as the other side of the Philippines class divide, and what its privileged children are up to.

“Catnip” (2012)
Director: Kevin Dayrit
After it won “Best Short Film” at Sundance, Kevin Dayrit expanded his pocket-sized flick into a weirdly intimate, blood-soaked hyperactive friendship flick about two BFFs and the abusive dad who comes between them. Liv is an introvert at home, due to the overbearing and abusive obsessive compulsive behavior of her father, but relaxes and runs free once she is out from under his roof and in the company of Cieca, a quiet but jaded girl who scrutinizes the world around her. That is, until her father intervenes.

“Rigodon” (2012)
Director: Erik Matti
Taking its title from a formal Filipino dance, Erik Matti’s realistically-observed, sympathetically acted, and appropriately raunchy film centers on a love triangle involving a reality TV star, the girl he falls in love with, and his wife.

“Vesuvius” (2012)
Director: Erik Matti
A timid man’s mundane life takes a turn when he is visited by a vision of the Virgin Mary.

The NYAFF features 63 films, which includes 59 features and four shorts. It is organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema in association with Japan Society. Keep up with the latest festival news at:

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