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By Heinrich Domingo

Watching films with new and unpopular themes can sometimes be intimidating. Aside from unfamiliar rhetoric, the filmmakers would often preach us on what they think we must believe in. Ned’s Project proved that films can introduce a new world without the fear of coming too overwhelming. It is an ideal lesbian film for the Filipino crowd who still believes that homosexuality is a crime. With its clear storyline, commendable cinematography, and outstanding cast, it is no doubt that it rose as CineFilipino 2016’s best film.

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In a humble town in Quezon Province, a lesbian tattoo artist named Ned dreams of having a child. After a bad break-up she thought of trying to conceive on her own. There, Ned’s Project began. First, she seduced her childhood classmate to impregnate her. Second, she pleaded to a gay friend to do the same. And third, she consulted a doctor to inquire on intrauterine insemination. The third one became the only viable option, but to do so, she has to join a talent competition to raise the needed amount. She befriends a new local to teach her how to dance. Both develop a friendship that makes Ned near to her dreams. But as their relationship progressed, it seemed that this new friend might even sidetrack Ned from her most coveted project.

This is a story of progress. Gone are the days that the cinema meekly introduces homosexuality through coming-of-age stories (see Ang Lihim ni Antonio). It is then a pride to watch a Filipino film joining in an international trend towards delivering maturity on LGBT topics (see Carol). The progressive film movement suggests films to go beyond sex. It pushes for movies to take stories that challenge lives of homosexuals. In the case of Ned’s Project, it is a discussion of lesbians bearing children, having families, and getting old with someone else.

The film’s success was founded on its beautiful screenplay. Sequence of events were written really well making the story fun to absorb and easy to digest. While the storyline discusses much debated social issues, the script remained light. Thus, audience who might have prejudice against lesbians can still engage in the discussion. The movie pulls this off through using an element that all Filipinos can relate with – comedy. Despite differences of stances, viewers can still understand the language of laughter.

Ned’s Project also largely benefited from the superb talent of its cast. Angeli Bayani, who we have seen in many equally good films, has still a lot to offer. Her performance as a butch lesbian will be unforgettable to cinema-goers. With her are other actors and actresses who have also shown realistic portrayal of their roles.

Bonus to the viewers is Tey Clamor’s brilliant cinematography. We have seen her craft (and love for mirrors) in Sleepless but as she captures more stories, she proves that she is among the top of her industry. Few females enter the exclusive league of cinematographers and Clamor is surely a jewel.

This film can share so much on how to effectively deliver an unpopular advocacy. It is knowledgeable on the language of both the cinema and the audience. As it perfects technical aspect of filmmaking, it made sure that the viewers are still the center of the narrative.

4.5 stars

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