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Independencia (2009)

 -  Drama  -  21 April 2010 (France)
6.8
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Mimicking early silent films, Independencia creates a lush metaphor that plays with cinematic illusions and the cultural and mythical history of the Philippines.

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Cast overview:
Sid Lucero ...
Son
Alessandra de Rossi ...
Stranger
Tetchie Agbayani ...
Mother
Mika Aguilos ...
Child
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Mimicking early silent films, Independencia creates a lush metaphor that plays with cinematic illusions and the cultural and mythical history of the Philippines.

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21 April 2010 (France)  »

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Anexartisia  »

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Nominated in the Noves Visions Award of the 42nd Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Cataluña in 2009. See more »

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A breathtaking montage of sight and sound
14 October 2009 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

At the turn of the twentieth century, a mother (Tetchie Agbayani) and her son (Sid Lucero) flee from the American occupation of the Philippines and hide out in the forest. Together they grow potatoes and learn to hunt, beginning a new life that comes full circle when the son grows older and has a boy (Mika Aguilos) of his own with a stranger (Alessandra de Rossi), apparently raped and abandoned by the Americans. 24-year-old Raya Martin's black and white film Independencia is the second in a planned trilogy on imperialism in the Philippines and it is a work that is searing with intensity and deeply felt love of country. The first film, a silent feature, dealt with the Spanish occupation and a planned third film will cover Japan's rule.

Independencia was the first Filipino film to be selected to the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was shot on a sound stage in homage to the early days of American cinema. It recreates on set the dense jungle of the forest with its exotic animals and insects and the pounding rainstorms with its lush soundtrack recorded elsewhere. As Martin explains, "The film refers to the way those early movies were made, reconstructing the location indoors. We created a forest inside a studio, mixing painted backdrops and live elements. Almost all of it was shot indoors." Though the backdrops are painted, the film never feels artificial but always vitally alive in the importance of its message, the humanity of its characters (though they are broad characterizations), and the childlike wonder of the world it creates.

The only actual historical realism in the film is the showing of newsreel footage of an incident that happened during the American occupation where a young boy was gunned down by soldiers for stealing a piece of fruit from a vendor. While Independencia is a tribute to American cinema, it is also a lament for the loss of Philippine independence and culture. Though the viewer is always aware of the film's highly stylized and often melodramatic aspects, director Martin and cinematographer Jeanne Lapoirie have created a breathtaking montage of sight and sound and the historical, cultural, and mythological images haunt us long after the 77-minute film has ended


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