By Heinrich Domingo
In an old barrio, a Filipina dreams of becoming a dancer. But, her brooding chieftain father forbids her to do so. She found hope when a macho gunman visited their place and promised her a new future. This complicates her situation as a poet suitor also wants to pursue her. Beneath the intricate production value of this short film, we see a faint hint of feminist critique on the once-prevailing Western genre.
Guns (or bolo for Filipinos), horses, and fighting macho men can be easily associated in film genres called Western film. It is a depiction of the early 19th century American Old West featuring duels of cowboys armed with revolvers. Ang Maangas, Ang Marikit at Ang Makata brings in the Western genre to the Philippine setting. Instead of the typical male gaze, it uses the only female character as the center of the whole plot. As a result, we see a piece that is both striking and subtle.
The use of well-calculated cinematography (by Martika Escobar) and meaningful production design (by Steff Dereja) gives the readers a feel that there is something more beyond the stories told in the screen. The story itself from writer/director Ibarra Guballa says so much about the repetitive and boring patterns of action movies. It looks back to a past that used flawed storylines to lure the audience. Such films even plague the Philippine cinema scene through the films of Fernando Poe Jr., Lito Lapid, and the likes. Yet, Ang Maangas, Ang Marikit at Ang Makata says more on how these plots are often sexist in nature treating women as mere prized possessions. Through the use of the female protagonist, the film exposes how fights of men depicted in films are childish and selfish.
The ambitious nature of this short film was achieved largely through the help of its production team. From editing (Sari Estrada) to cinematography (Escobar), we see people with previous successful projects joining together.
Film movement has progressed in a way that to read a film is to box it into “isms.” An expert eye can easily classify movies based on their prevailing theme. Yet, we see few recent films that begin to question this trend. Last year’s Cinemalaya winner Pusong Bato is one of them. Ang Maangas, Ang Marikit, at Ang Makata proves that subtlety is beauty. The audience would find it difficult to associate into one school of thought. Its makers believe that the viewers are intelligent enough to get the film’s message through lines and images alone. As the Philippine film movement progresses, we hope to see more of its kind.