by Heinrich Domingo
Dagitab battles against cinema’s form, convention, and tradition. It is a film that is confident of what it is. Light, consistent, and surreal. It testifies that there is a ray of hope from the next generation of Filipino Independent filmmaking.
This film can be called many, but for one, it is revolutionary; revolutionary in a sense that it presents new concepts in Philippine cinema; and revolutionary because it speaks of change. Giancarlo Abrahan (director) brings to us a promising and new cine wave. His masterpiece presents intellectual discourse treated with a light approach. With this, Dagitab can be the spark that we have been waiting for.
Philippine Independent Cinema has been gifted with genius filmmakers who undeniably created ripples of change. The likes of Brilliante Mendoza (on poverty), Lav Diaz (on socio-politics), and Kidlat Tahimik (on neocolonialism) opened the possibility of more intelligent Filipino movie-goers.
Yet, in the recent years, Philippine Indie Films were able to create their own brand following a system of patterns, clichés, and conventions. Films in movie festivals display a grim, dark, or impoverished image of the country. There have been various efforts to change the landscape but none has so far produced an output that is both more deviant and effective than Dagitab.
Light. Despite inclusion of the subjects of armed struggle, marital woes, and academic freedom, this film was put together with grace. Characters are made to be relatable (college students, teachers, husbands, and wives) and settings are made to be familiar (university and empty home). Thus, usage of such elements does not alienate those who are unfamiliar with the film’s advocacies.
Consistent. The director revealed that he wishes his film to showcase all kinds of dagitab (sparks). From romantic sparks, erotic sparks, and revolutionary sparks, the film knows where to focus itself. It remains true to what the filmmaker planned as shown in the relevance of every scene.
Surreal. In contrast to the realist trend in independent cinema, Dagitab delivers its audience into a world where mysticism and the unknown thrive. While discussing concrete and legitimate issues of infidelity, political struggle, and social change, it incorporates the ideas of diwata, idealism, and poetry.
Beyond the contradictions of light and heavy, consistent and random, and real and surreal, this film boldly presents new ideas. Its ability to veer away from existing proven formulae is a reminder that films in this genre can continue to reinvent themselves. Truly, Dagitab serves as a spark to fuel the next generation of filmmakers in questioning status quo, in destroying the conventions, and in creating their own rules.
Dagitab can be watched on iflix. Avail of their monthly or annual plans now and tell them we sent you!