As part of the Glasgow Short Film Festival 2018
This year’s Glasgow Short Film Festival has a focus on Southeast Asia, with a shorts programme, a video installation from Hanoi-based artist Nguyen Trinh Thi, an all-night marathon screening focusing on the work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul and a two-day symposium looking at how Southeast Asian filmmakers have used archive footage in their practice. One highlight in the programme is the screening Kalampag Tracking Agency: Experimental Films & Videos from the Philippines (1985-2015). Here we are introduced to 14 different shorts that highlight the imagination, diversity and vast array of experimental work from the Philippines over a thirty-year period.
The programme begins with a 2014 film shot on Super 8 by director Miko Revereza. Droga! initially looks like a bad tourist video, but transforms into a short examination of American pop culture and its influence on Filipino traditions. A rock’n’roll soundtrack and black and white imagery add to the intrigue and majesty of the work. As the programme continues we are again presented with a Super 8 film, this time a more concise experimental work from Melchor Bacani III. Once Upon a Time uses experimental printing techniques and found footage to present an abstract film that feels mysterious and unpredictable in its presentation.
ABCD is an experimental hand-drawn animation from director Roxlee. It follows the alphabet in a simplistic manner, but uses abstract animation to subvert any clichés and predictability. Animation techniques are presented in a different form with the short Johnny Crawl, again directed by Roxlee. Here pixilation is employed to show a man crawling through a cityscape. The technique creates an anxiety where the actions of the protagonist are jittery, out of step and express a paranoia and suspicion of the oppressive environment. Johnny Crawl is very much the standout short in the eclectic and extensive programme.
Other shorts include Chop-Chopped First Lady + Chop-Chopped First Daughter (directed by Yason Banal), The Retrochronological Transfer of Information (directed by Tad Ermitaño) and Class Picture (directed by Tito and Tita). Each short is as varied and erratic as the next. The Kalampag Tracking Agency: Experimental Films & Videos from the Philippines (1985-2015) programme is a fine selection of films and the screening was an excellent opportunity to view many obscure and overlooked short experimental works. The screening underlines the interesting art created in Southeast Asia and shows that Glasgow Short Film Festival is definitely the place to go to view interesting and inspiring cinema.