Pinoy indie films make it to Rotterdam festival

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By KC Santos

QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA – Having one’s film screened in international festivals might be a milestone for most filmmakers but for Jet Leyco, these opportunities are mere beginnings of recognitions long overdue.

“It says a lot about how Filipino filmmakers must persevere. The opportunity is just out there,” says Leyco, who is one of four Filipino filmmakers whose works will be screened in the 41st Rotterdam International Film Festival in the Netherlands starting January 25.

The 25-year-old Mass Communications graduate, the youngest in this year’s roster of Filipino participants, will showcase “Ex Press”, his thesis film at the Asia Pacific Film Institute.

His film tackles the life of Colonel Paliparan, a train officer for the Philippine National Railways express route in Bicol, his two sons and how his unprecedented disappearance subtly unfolds subliminal truths about the Philippines, its leaders and its people, in general.

Leyco is known for his heavy use of  metaphors – a personal fascination and his way of delivering socio-political undertones in a somewhat idiosyncratic manner.

“It’s very hard to tell a story with a subtext and execute it carefully so it becomes clear and coherent, especially if you have limited resources. However, I’ve learned that in the end, it all boils down to executing it no matter what.”

Ex Press, he explains, was shot within three days and in between long trips he made for a stint in TV. At the time, he needed material for his thesis  so with a personal camera on hand, he shot continuous footage, including the time when he got stuck in the PNR train that went kaput on his way to Bicol.

“I just shot more scenes in Manila, worked on editing for at a little over a month and then asked people to help me screen it,” he recalls.

“Ex Press” was also chosen for screening at the Jeonju International Film Festival International Competition in South Korea this April.

Getting independently produced films an audience may sound so much a feat but for this young filmmaker, all it takes is a clear motivation and acquainting oneself with the right people.

There are smaller avenues where you can have your films screened. You just really have to keep yourself aware and in the circulation. Eventually, people will watch your film- hopefully appreciation comes next,” he adds.

Leyco’s Ex Press will be screened alongside those by three other Filipino filmmakers: Khavn dela Cruz (Mondomanila), Lav Diaz (“Florentina Hubaldo,” CTE and “Century of Birthing”) and Raya Martin (“Buenas Noches, España.”)

For more information, visit the International Film Festival Rotterdam website. Watch the  “Ex Press” trailer here.

(Photo courtesy of Jet Leyco)

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