|Pen Medina stars in the Cinemalaya entry "Kamera Obskura" from filmmaker Raymond Red. Photo: Handout
MANILA, Philippines – All eyes are now on award-winning filmmaker Raymond Red, whose new film “Kamera Obskura” is set to premiere at this year’s Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, which opens on Friday.
Red, considered one of the pioneers of modern Filipino alternative cinema, is the first and only Filipino to have won the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival for his short film “Anino” in 2000.
His last movie was the award-winning drama "Himpapawid," which was released in 2009.
Red, who also made the historical epics “Bayani” in 1992 and “Sakay” in 1993, said he has been making films for 30 years now.
“Thirty years ago may ginawa akong short film, ang ‘Magpakailanman.’ It was a silent movie. I thought of going full circle and go back to my roots. Kaya ko naisipang gumawa ng silent film, ‘Kamera Obskura,’” he said during the recent launch of this year’s Cinemalaya festival.
In “Kamera Obskura,” which the director describes as an “ambitious” project, Red attempts to make “a semblance of a vintage film seemingly produced sometime in the late 1920s to early 1930s in the Philippines,“ according to notes provided by Cinemalaya.
“The narrative plays with the idea of a retro-futurist world where a prisoner locked away in a dark chamber for over two decades only sees the reality of the world outside through the small hole in his cell, which projects an image of the city on his wall, the phenomenon of the camera obscura. He later immerses back into society by slowly climbing up the different social classes represented by the levels of different floors in a mysterious building, where corruption, deceit, and betrayal seem to be at work at every level,” it added.
The movie stars Pen Medina, Joel Torre, Nanding Josef, Abe Pagtama, Irene Gabriel, Ping Medina, Suzette Ranillo, Lou Veloso, Archie Adamos, Mads Nicolas and Sue Prado.
Avid filmgoers are already predicting “Kamera Obskura” to win best film in the Directors Showcase, with Red as the early frontrunner for best director.
But Red has more than awards in mind.
“Ang intent is really to put focus in awareness of the value of our film heritage because practically we don't have any silent movies surviving,” he said.
“So by reimagining an era that's lost, I hope to remind people of the value of preserving heritage and history and culture through these films because dito nabubuhay uli ang kabuuan ng pagiging Pilipino natin,” he said.