I got the privilege to watch the premiere of my friend Mara’s short film, A Love Story, at Greenbelt Cinemas last October 12, 2018. She had been inviting me to watch her movies with her in the past, but our schedules just won’t meet. That’s why I didn’t let this one pass this time.
I went to her house the same afternoon to ride with her and her mom going to Greenbelt. Still can’t believe that a beauty queen like Maria Isabel Lopez drove for us. She’s the coolest, and even if I’ve been friends with Mara for three years already, it was only that day that I got the chance to bond and talk with Tita Maribel.
We arrived early to meet with the people that they invited, and we ate at Falafel Yo while we wait. It was also my first time eating there, so I got their vegan version, as Mara suggested. FYI, she’s vegan, and I super admire her for that.
Before the movie started, we had our pictures taken and also got to meet Patty and Jose. They were the organizers of Película-Pelíkula Manila Spanish Film Festival (Presented by Instituto Cervantes). Jose also informed us that we will be watching 4 Spanish short films and 2 Filipino short films, to which Mara’s movie is at the finale.
Here is the list of the short films that we watched:
- 23 de Mayo
- En La Azotea
- Las rubias
- The Gathering
- A Love Story
Let me give a quick review on the 5 first films and then let’s go to Mara’s after.
23 de Mayo
I thought I’d like this because the date is symbolic to me, as most of you know that that’s the date of my wedding anniversary… but, I honestly did not appreciate this first movie because it focused only on narration and setting. There were no emotions showing since we were only hearing the voices of two women who happened to have lived in a house, and were trying to recall the memories of the transformation of the property based on the different people who also lived there. I guess some would love this type of film, but I am a woman of visuals and emotions that’s probably why I wasn’t impressed.
En La Azotea
This is a bit interesting, but definitely something with a close mind will watch. It was a story of five friends spending the summer on top of a building, spying on a lady who sunbathes nude. It was when one of them saw a guy showering nude that made the other boys realize that one of them is actually more interested in him. It’s funny, and it’s somehow true that some boys in their puberty stage can’t help but fantasize and think lustful thoughts about a woman. Not that I’m saying that it’s okay, because I might faint if I find out my son doing the same thing. It was just an ice breaker from the first film we saw.
This by far was the most intriguing Spanish short film on the list. As I have mentioned, I love seeing and feeling the emotions of the characters. Julia, the main character had a different view on the accident that lead to the death of her two classmates. Needless to say, she felt like they both deserved it. It was never mentioned in the film if she was bullied by the two, nor had a really bad experience with them; but she had no remorse in writing that they both deserved what happened. Gosh, I really felt her pain! Hoping this could have a full-length film version soon.
This movie was so hilarious, and the fact that I’m blonde made me love this film even more. The saying that “blondes are all alike” is the best description for this film. Pepa was doing job a cash register when her blonde customer accidentally left her card, including her wallet. She tried to call her but the customer left so quickly. She then decided to dye her hair blonde and tried to use the lost card as her own. If you thought it was a onetime deal, no, it wasn’t. It turned out to be a series of kidnapping, and impersonations that surely changed their lives.
The Gathering (Filipino Film)
This film was written and directed by Arvin Belarmino. He mentioned on the interview that the movie’s inspiration came from one of his dreams (or should I say nightmare?). It’s a mind boggling film that focused on three individuals gathered in a dining area, to which every time one of them goes up to their respective rooms starts to “daydream” of what depicts to be a preview of their destiny. I loved how my heart was sort of pounding while watching scenes that go from characters fighting, getting a gun or banging the door, then the next minute you’ll see them all gathered at the dining table again as the commotion didn’t happen at all. It was also shot on a single-take with a smartphone camera, so the actors really did a great job in portraying their roles.
Photo Credits to: Tyke King
Now, let’s talk about my girl Mara’s movie!
A Love Story
I am not sure if it’s a typographical error or something, but on some of the PR posts/kits of Película-Pelíkula Manila Spanish Film Festival the title is showing as “Our Love Story”. The film was written and directed by Xian Lim.
Contrary to the title, the story was nowhere near a love story. Well, if you have seen the trailer or have watched the film, you’d know what I’m talking about. The story focused on the relationship of a mom and a daughter who owned a restaurant in Binondo. Janina, Mara Lopez’s character was someone I connected with since I was a bit like her in my younger years. She was a naive girl whose heart had been broken so many times, that her mom Maria, portrayed by Maria Isabel Lopez (who happens to be her mom in real life) wanted to protect her and will do anything to stop her daughter from falling for the wrong man again. Things were going well, until Marco came to her life. I didn’t know the best term to use, because towards the end of the film, my jaw dropped! Who knew Xian Lim had darkness in his mind to come up with such a short film like this. I also think this should have a full-length version. I wanted to get to know the mother daughter duo more, how they got into the business, and how they ended up doing what they did (or should I say “do what they do”) towards the end. This film by the way was also shot via smartphone.
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Mara Lopez is a really good friend of mine, and I am not being biased when I say that she is a great actress. The independent film industry is lucky to have her versatility in acting.
Maria Isabel Lopez is dominating both independent and international films, and is known for getting awards for her superb acting. Given the beauty queen title and the fame, she remains humble and her love for acting alongside her daughter really shows how close their relationship is.
Can we also talk about Xian Lim as a director?
A Love Story is his first film, and I commend him for doing a good job! I actually wanted to interview him, or at least ask a few questions but he had another work engagement that’s why he was not present at the movie premier. His beautiful mom though, graced us with her presence.
For a first time director, Mara shared on the interview that Xian took good care of them while filming. Since he was an actor first, he knew very well how to treat his cast. He got them nice hotel rooms, food to eat, and even spoiled Mara with vegan choices. According to the casts, he was easy to work with and he was able to relay to them what he had in mind in creating this film.
I am looking forward to seeing more of his films should he decide to continue directing. I also hope that more people will have the courage to create their own masterpiece and share their talents to the world. I mean, they used smartphone to create these two short films, so, lack of equipment should no longer be an issue to start with your craft!
Writing this now made me feel so lucky that I had the chance to watch these films. Most of you know how passionate I am in writing and sharing my thoughts, so this one really gave me an opportunity to increase my potential, and to widen the scope of my articles.
Having to watch these films made me love the independent movie industry even more. The reality, the unique concept, including having to read subtitles, gives me that desire to either write my own story to tell (that can turn into a movie) or be part of the cast and see if I have a hidden talent in acting. I am all for supporting both indie and mainstream films, and I really hope the Filipino movie industry gets the proper recognition it deserves.
Have you watched any of the films above? Let me know what you think in the comment box. Thanks!
That’s all for me today! Xoxo, Sab.