Some films are just so simple and yet can make a huge impact in your life. Films that takes you to places you’ve never been before or films that triggers certain fond memories. Some films are just so well-written that you can make a strong connection with the characters in the story. These are films that you instantly remember or easily recall all the time.
I’ve lost count of the number of movies that I’ve seen but I can always remember SUPERMAN 2 (because that was the first movie that I’ve watched), INDIAN SUMMER, FLATLINERS, THE GOONIES and the 1980 pinoy musical masterpiece KAKABAKABA KA BA.
Although there are hundreds of great movies out there, only a few can be etched on the walls of our hearts. Movies that appeal to us on a personal level. One such movie that a lot of people can relate to is Marie Jamora’s ANG NAWAWALA (What Isn’t There).
Here’s the Official Synopsis of the film:
Gibson Bonifacio stopped speaking as a child. He is now twenty years old, returning to Manila from his studies abroad, his first visit home in three years. He finds his family trying to keep it together, his mother still hurting from a tragic loss in the past. In the backdrop of the vibrant local music scene, his childhood best friend reaches out to him, and he finds a chance at his first real romantic relationship. Amidst the holidays, Gibson reconsiders and redefines his relationships with his family, his friends, and with himself.
The film stars Dominic Roco as Gibson, Dawn Zulueta as Gibson’s mom, Boboy Garovillo as Gibson’s Dad and Felix Roco plays Jamie, Gibson’s twin brother who died in an accident. The rest of the cast includes Annicka Dolonius as Enid, Marc Abaya as Michael, Alcris Galura as Teddy, Mercedes Cabral as Simone, Jenny Jamora as Corey, Kelvin Yu as Mac and Sabrina Man as Promise.
RainCHECKS: ANG NAWAWALA
I was at Cinema 9 SM North EDSA Main Theater together with the staff of GMA Artist Center and some of the cast and production staff of ANG NAWAWALA during opening day last Wednesday.
Ang Nawawala is a coming of age film that talks about letting go, acceptance and second chances. The story somehow reminded me of a book called Praying Our Goodbyes by Joyce Rupp which talks about the same thing. The film takes us on a guided tour on the life of Gibson who after the tragic loss of a brother have managed to mechanically shut off his ability to talk. He’s neither deaf or mute but the trauma has psychologically impaired his ability to speak. Gibson was only able to speak when he’s alone, usually inside his room and with his dead brother, Jamie.
The story was set during Christmas in the Philippines. Gibson returns home after studying abroad for the holidays and was welcomed to a family that has not yet recovered from a great tragedy. I thought that selecting the Christmas season was brilliant because this is a season of great contrast. A season of hope and great Joy but to some, it’s a season of immeasurable sadness and unspeakable silence – which was clearly depicted in the scenes of Ang Nawawala. In one of the scenes, Gibson’s father (Boboy Garovillo) said “We (our family) used to be so happy.” or something like that, I forgot the exact words.
The opening was magnificently edited but my favorite scene in the whole movie was when Gibson says goodbye to his brother Jamie in the cemetery. This, in my opinion, is the most powerful part of the movie and also the most difficult. It was a showcase of exceptional acting from brothers Dominic and Felix Roco. Dominic said that it was a difficult scene for the two of them because the instructions were to imagine what it felt like to say goodbye to each other without saying any words and to try hard not to cry at the same time.
“I worked with the twins in rewriting that part, I wanted for them to bring a lot of their relationship in the movie.. kasi ‘pag natural mas magiging magical yung makikita ng mga manonood. Lumabas yung emotions sa scene na yun kasi sariling words nila yun.” Direk Marie Jamora explained.
This is way beyond the ordinary drama films that you’ll find in mainstream cinemas. The plot revolves around the angle of personal discovery and human triumph – It is a family drama, a love story and a good barkada film rolled into one. Aside from that it features some of the best bands in the Philippine music scene like Sandwich, Pedicab, Itchyworms, Flying Ipis, Outerhope, Hannah + Gabi, Tarsius and Ebe Dancel. It also features a mix of old and new songs.
Another notable part in the movie was the way Gibson (Dominic) communicates with love interest, Enid (Annicka) through music. In a scene where Gibson first talked, he professed his love to Enid and then she asked him why only now that he decides to talk – he said, “There wasn’t anything important to say before.”
This film is exceptional. Wonderful acting complemented the awesome script. This is worth watching.
Marie Jamora studied in Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in Communication Arts and a Master in Film at the Columbia University. She is now a professor at her alma mater and is known for directing music videos for the likes of Eraserheads, Sandwich, Sponge Cola, Imago, Bamboo, Itchyworms, Urbandub and Gary Valenciano.
In an interview last Wednesday, Direk Marie said that the concept in making ANG NAWAWALA started during her script writing days in college with Uro Dela Cruz. She also said that this movie was actually 9 years in the making and it was made possible through mostly personal finances, the support of friends and of course the producers.
“Our intention in making the film is to get people to watch it and to see that it was really a labor of love from all the cast and the production crew.” She added.
Another noticeable thing in the movie is the incorporation of the live music scene in the story. It was an interesting mix of old and new music. It’s such a very intelligent thing to do for the writers to introduce a lot of music in the life of Gibson since he really doesn’t speak. And music here was clearly – the universal language.
Direk Marie also moved musical expression a notch higher in this movie by also making a statement.. she said, “We wanted to capture music as alive so we selected the songs that we love – some of it came from my collections. We even shot a few scenes at Vinyl Dump, Reading Room to show that old records are still alive. Marami ng nakakalimot sa tunog ng plaka. Iba pa rin kasi kapag nahahawakan mo sa kamay yung music. Yun ang gusto ko i share din sa movie na ito.”
Direk Marie Jamora plans to do more films like Ang Nawawala in the future.
My congratulations to all the cast, Direk Marie Jamora and the produceres and staff of Ang Nawawala. Great Film.