Vancouver International Film Festival: Dragons and Tigers

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I am beyond tardy with my Vancouver reports. An endless array of office tasks leaves me to merely imagine writing them while (cue violins) riding the bus to or from work.

But an hour or two of "free" time has opened up, and today, as the 25th VIFF winds down, is as good a time as any to talk briefly about this year's Dragons and Tigers Award for Young Cinema. I spent an extra night in Vancouver last week, a decision that proved fortuitous, because I saw the recently-announced winner and another film singled out for praise -- and wound up at an impromptu dinner for the directors of both movies -- during my last twelve or so hours in town.

Good fortune allowed me to share a beer and some movie thoughts with Tarkovsky lover Alexis A. Tioseco, editor-in-chief of the superb site Criticine, which currently features a candid, emotionally and intellectually engaging Paris diary by Raya Martin, whose daring, one-of-a-kind debut feature A Short Film About the Indio-Nacional (or, The Prolonged Sorrow of Filipinos) I mentioned in Pixel Vision this past spring. Alexis makes a brief appearance at the very beginning of John Torres's Dragons and Tigers Award for Young Cinema winner Todo Todo Teros, a film with a braided essay-diary narrative that, like Martin's Short Film, features a hypnotic piano-based score by the versatile Khavn de la Cruz.

From speaking all too briefly with Alexis and John (the former likes to endearingly kid the latter), I got the sense that there's a thriving group of filmmakers and musicians in Manila, not only working outside the conventional industry system, but also essentially without the kind of institutional support that motors the film community in, say, this city. I'm always excited when I hear about this kind of improvisationally creative camarederie, wherever it takes place. If Martin's and Torres's films (and Tioseco's site) are anything to go by, what's happening in Manila is special -- all-too-rare.

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