September 26, 2023

I spent the last day of Session Road in Bloom not in the middle of the chaotic crowd, and sisig or shawarma stalls but in the quiet, air-conditioned, and newly-opened SM cinema room.
On the second year of the Montañosa Film Fest, (MFF) there was a free screening of Erik Matti’s “On the Job: The Missing 8”. The film was written by Michiko Yamamoto and has spectacular performances of award-winning actors John Arcilla and Dennis Trillo.
It premiered at the 78th Venice International Film Fest where Arcilla won the Volpi Cup for best actor.
The film portrayed political and media killings.
At the MFF1, we watched at the creepy, dark and cultic Diplomat Hotel. Across the shadowed halls, along wooden seats, framed by dusty, high windows, my friend Bob and I, along with other indie-film enthusiasts watched another Matti film – “Honor Thy Father.”
I have not yet recovered from that film because of its revelations on anomalous church leaders who turn their members into a pyramiding scheme.
It is essential for our community to see our society in the eyes of Matti. When we celebrate the festival, the beauty and the founding of our city, there is a need to celebrate our local filmmakers who are creative in their work, expressing reality, and making connections in our life, where previously there were none.
“OTJ: The Missing 8” is the narration of a corrupt reporter Sisoy (Arcilla) who investigates the disappearances of his seven newspaper staffers including his best friend Arnel (Christopher de Leon) and his son. The three-and-half hour thriller film tackles political suppression and the use of inmates as assassins.
The film is a collective projection of the endless murder and decapitation of bodies. It also shows how social media chatter, masquerading TV reports and information could be manipulated for an upcoming election.
Sisoy reassesses his morals and his investigation led him to Roman (Trillo).
Roman was a hitman but was deterimed to get out from the vast machinery of killings.
Sisoy and Roman, though like two wings of opposition, advanced epic heroes who needed to do the final act to do their moral obligation.
I believe watching movies nowadays is a deliberate act to inform oneself about our society. Films become mediators and offer distability between contrasting poles. Between the nested set of relations: confused and ideal, between liminal and sacralized, between good and bad.
The movie ended and we are enveloped in stark darkness. My friend and I look at each other’s eyes and in the shadows catch a glimpse of a small light where we knew we are no longer captive lookers. (RICHARD A. GIYE)