Top 1. Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon / From What is Before (Lav Diaz)
The Philippines, 1972. Mysterious things are happening in a remote barrio. Wails are heard from the forest, cows are hacked to death, a man is found bleeding to death at the crossroad and houses are burned. Ferdinand E. Marcos announces Proclamation No. 1081 putting the entire country under Martial Law.
The title of the film is from the Latin phrase “a priori”, used in Western philosophy as knowledge independent of all particular experiences, an argument/justification on the essentiality of truth that is easily gleaned even without empirical evidence.
In 1972, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos proclaimed Martial Law plunging the entire Philippines into its darkest period. The epoch practically obscured everything that is essentially Filipino then. Marcos’ political methodology was clinical and brutal.
The story of the film revolves around the lives of poor villagers in one of the remotest regions of the Philippines before Martial Law was declared. Loosely based on real events and characters, the film examines how an individual and collective psyche responds to extreme and mysterious changes in social and physical environment.
Top 2. Norte, the End of History
Norte, the End of History (Tagalog: Norte, hangganan ng kasaysayan) is a 2013 Philippine drama film directed by Lav Diaz, that explores themes of crime, class, and family in a marathon-length film format, totaling over four hours in length.
Screened at the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, as well as the Masters section of the 2013 San Diego Asian Film Festival, the film has received wide acclaim for its riveting storytelling and unique cinematography.
Norte, the end of History, set in modern-day Philippines, follows the story of a man by the name of Joaquin (Archie Alemania) who is wrongly jailed for murder while the real killer roams free. The murderer, Fabian (Sid Lucero), is an intellectual who is frustrated with his country’s never-ending cycle of betrayal and apathy. The convict Joaquin, is a simple man who finds life in prison more tolerable when something mysterious and strange starts happening to him.
Top 3. BWAYA
Directed by Francis Xavier Pasion
Divina (Angeli Bayani) is preparing for her daughter Rowena’s 13th birthday when she hears shocking news — her daughter has been attacked by a crocodile, her body still missing. As Divina searches for the body of her daughter in the marshlands of Agusan del Sur, she learns a lesson more tragic than her fate — not all predators are underwater. The film is based on actual events.
Top 4. BARBER’S TALES
Barber’s Tales (Filipino: Mga Kuwentong Barbero) is a 2013 Filipino drama film by Jun Robles Lana. The film stars Eugene Domingo as Marilou, a widow who is forced to take her late husband’s job as community barber during the end of Marcos era. The film is the follow up to Lana’s film Bwakaw and second of a trilogy focused on the small town life in the Philippines. The film had its world premiere and competed at the 2013 Tokyo International Film Festival, where it won the Best Actress Award for Eugene Domingo’s performance.
Barber’s Tales is set in the rural town in the Philippines during the end of Marcos dictatorship, and tells the story of newly widowed Marilou (Eugene Domingo) who inherits the town’s only barbershop from her husband- a business that has been passed down by generations of men in her husband’s family. With no other means of support, she musters the courage to run the barbershop. But as to be expected, she fails to attract any customers. But a touching act of kindness she extended to Rosa, a prostitute who works in the town brothel, leads to an unexpected opportunity. Rosa, who now considers Marilou a friend, urges her prostitute friends to pressure their male clientele into patronizing Marilou’s barbershop. The men have no choice but to grudgingly oblige out of fear that Rosa will expose their infidelity to their wives.
Top 5. DAGITAB
Directed by Giancarlo Abrahan
While the marriage of two professors is on the verge of falling apart, the woman is dragged into a scandal involving a young student. On the other hand, the man falls in love with his research — a deity that appears to him as the ghost of an old flame.
Top 6. LORNA
Directed by Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo
LORNA is a film about a 60 yr old woman who is constantly searching for the right one after failed relationships. A story of being alone & growing old.
Top 7. VIOLATOR
Directed by Dodo Dayao
A devastating storm holds five men captive in a police precinct. A sixth man, a scrawny prisoner with bloodshot eyes, may or may not be Satan himself.
Top 8. MAGKAKABAUNG
Directed by Jason Paul Laxamana
The story follows Randy (Allen Dizon), a coffin maker from Pampanga. A very terrible thing happens, and he spends the next couple of days trying desperately to do what he thinks is right, to salvage whatever is left of his dignity as a father and a man. It gets pretty rough, the film piling on the misery as it sketches out the sheer lack of options available to this poor man.
Top 9. KASAL
Directed by Joselito Altarejos
Kasal is a slice of life drama of a gay couple whose resolve to stay together is challenged as they attend a wedding. It is also is an examination on how a gay couple navigates through the different institutions in Philippine society.
Top 10.TUMBANG PRESO
Inspired by true events.
This is the story of a 14-year old boy’s dangerous attempts to escape slavery in a sardines factory.
Directed by Kip Oebanda
Carlo, a smart 14-year old boy and his younger female cousin were promised restaurant work with a scholarship in the capital, Manila but ended up as slaves in a sardines factory. Children’s hands are small so they fit well into the can. Their hands are bloody but consumers don’t notice. The sauce is red.
He plays a game of manipulation and deceit with the owners of the factory and navigate around the complex power-play there. It culminates in a dangerous plan to escape where life and freedom are in the balance.