by Heinrich Domingo
At the height of gay Pinoy Indie Films was a movie that exhibits the marriage of eroticism and identity. Ang Lihim ni Antonio banks on the effectiveness of sex and violence in presenting a boy’s tale of familial relationship, homosexuality, and sexual fantasies.
The story of Antonio (played by Kenjie Garcia) deliberately includes metaphors to compensate for its meager budget. From the 9 days of simbang gabi to the act where the son, Antonio, bathes his mother (reverse image of Pieta), the film is teeming with messages that needs to be unearthed. A viewer must look for a bigger paradigm that can better explain the film’s individual scenes. Yet, this characteristic is common among Filipino Indie Films. What separate them are the topics discussed and the advocacies raised. In the case of Ang Lihim ni Antonio, the film epitomizes pubescent gay sexuality.
The audience can immediately notice the superb acting of the cast. Kenjie Garcia’s neophyte performance, Josh Ivan Morales’ (Jobert) career-redeeming acting, and Shamaine Buencamino’s seasoned show, complimented each other and filling in where other characters have fallen short.
In the creation of independent films, directors are gifted with the ability to include items that are deemed unpopular by big production houses. Filmmakers are given the chance to showcase stories without religious or moral boundaries. As a result, the audiences are offered with the raw form of life – dark, dirty, and dramatic.
This film takes pride in showing the dark side of families, the dirty truth of first sex, and the dramatic form of falling apart. After the film’s credits, the director can be seen discussing his purpose of making his creations mirror reality. The murder scene is bloody, sex scenes are lustful, and drama scenes are agonizing. The screen delivers to the audience its version of unaltered reality.
Joselito Altarejos, the film’s director, has delivered the likes of Ang Lalake sa Parola, Kambyo, and Kasal; all of which discuss gay men and sexual exploration. He has perfected the creation of cinema pieces that promote gay relationship even gaining attention from the viewing crowd.
While Ang Lihim ni Antonio served as a revolutionary cinema piece in its time, it is also one of the early films that spawned an abundance of erotic, bordering on pornographic, gay films. Today, the general public is bombarded with existing gay erotic films that focus solely on libido. If the country’s indie cinema wishes to be relevant to the current generation, changes should be made. Gay films must transcend the stigma attached to them.
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