HomeCommentaryCinemalaya LGBT films on sexual abuse and depression

Cinemalaya LGBT films on sexual abuse and depression

“May sasabihin ako,” the words of Eric (played by Carlo Aquino) during the closing scene of “Iti Mapukpukaw (The Missing)” by  Carl Joseph Papa, which is one of the films that tackled issues of sexual abuse, depression, and the gay/lesbian love affairs.

The other films are “Rookie” by Samantha Lee and “As If It’s True”  by John Rogers.

“Iti Mapukpukaw” is the first full-length rotoscope animation film at Cinemalaya that follows Eric’s life as a mouthless young animator at the intersections of grief and trauma.

Rotoscope is a method of animation that’s created by tracing over frame by frame of live-action footage.

Eric untangles memories from his childhood in the wake of his uncle’s death. An alien abducted him from Earth, which left him power as the destined ruler of the planet.

The death triggered Eric to remember his past as a victim of sexual abuse by his uncle during his childhood. He stopped talking as his uncle told him to remain silent. His co-worker Carlo (Gio Gahol) is his love interest and his shock absorber.

“Speaking up is never too late. The film encourages others to speak up too. I hope that in creating Eric, I create a refuge for people who suffered the same fate as he did and a safe space where giving information, fostering understanding, and initiating discourse are things we don’t have to be afraid of,” says the film director Papa.

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Dolly de Leon (who plays Eric’s mother) said that the film deals with how trauma affects the ability of those who are victims to navigate the world. It is a way of healing, embracing trauma, and getting over it as a young individual.

“Rookie” is a romantic comedy about young queer love and volleyball. An awkward 6-footer teen Ace (Pat Tingjuy) is forced to learn and play volleyball half-heartedly in the Catholic school she transferred to. Everything changes when she meets their star player Janna (Aya Fernandez).

Director Lee said Rookie that queerness in sports is rarely explored: the film deals with the sensitive yet timely issues of gender inequality and objectification of women in male-dominated spaces.

“It’s about how society is still very much rigged against women but we continue to play to win anyway,” Lee said.

The film also showed how officials of all-female schools normally address sexual harassment issues involving male teachers, professors, and coaches. In order to protect the school’s reputation, the culprits are just transferred from one school to another without legal cases filed against them or without public statements made condemning their actions.

“As If It’s True ” revolves around the love-hate relationship between James (Khalil Ramos) and Gemma Watson (Ashley Ortega). Two struggling young adults trying to find their respective spaces in this vast world: James is a struggling musician suffering from depression while Gemma is a social media influencer struggling to maintain the interest of her followers. Gemma had a previous lesbian relationship.

Director Rogers said that the film started out as a simple premise of a friends-with-benefits kind of situation but through the lens of internet fame and influencer culture. A  transactional romantic relationship is being built as a brand.

Gemma took advantage of James’ depression as a content which sadly made their relationship more complicated.

I saw several Cinemalaya films revolving around the issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+)  including  “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” when it premiered at the First Cinemalaya in 2005.

Set in the slums of Manila, the coming-of-age comedy-drama film by fellow UP alumnus Auraeus Solito is about a gay teen (Nathan Lopez) who is torn between his love for a young cop ( JR Valentin) and his loyalty to his family.

Although it did not win the Best Film award in 2005,  it became one of the icons of indie films and has been included in various lists of best LGBTQIA+ films. It was the Philippines’ official entry to the 79th Academy Awards.

Transgender Mimi won Best Actor for Quick Change in the 2013 New Breed section. 

This year’s ten (10) full-length films include Iti Mapupukaw; Rookie; As If It’s Truel Ang Duyan ng Magiting by Dustin Celestino; Bulawan Nga Usa (Golden Deer) by Kenneth De La Cruz; Gitling by Jopy Arnaldo; Huling Palabas by Ryan Machado; Maria by Sheryl Rose Andes; Tether by Gian Arre; and When This is All Over by Kevin Mikhail Mayuga. The short film section also has ten competing entries.

Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail [email protected], or call 09175025808 or 09088665786

The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LICAS News.

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