Friday, December 18, 2015

Bethan Forrest's insightful take on Brillante Mendoza's 2015 cli-fi movie "Taklub"

A British writer in London, Bethan Forrest, writing for the Huffington Post UK, has penned a very good take on a new cli-fi feature movie from the Philippines. Director Brillante Mendoza's small film was made with a limited budget, most of it provided by the central government in Manila, but the completed movie is not a government PR piece but a completely independent and artistic masterpiece.

Forrest: ''Taklub, the winner of the 2015 Cli-Fi Award for Best Film is a devastatingly human and raw exploration of the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (or Yolanda) which hit Southeast Asia, causing particular destruction in the Philippines in 2013. The film is an intimate affair which focuses on how one family piece their lives back together.''

She adds: ''The auteur at the helm is previous Cannes favourite Brillante Mendoza who receives the support of the Philippines government in forming this new work about disaster action. Whilst the idea of the British Government directly financing a film about an issue as important as climate change would understandably raise a few eyebrows, this film appears to have escaped a level of dogmatism and propaganda about the subject, instead focusing on the inward torment of the people affected. Equally surprising as a piece of film financed by the government, the film also features Nora Aunor, a siren with gravitas and presence, celebrated in her own right in the Philippines and now on her second project with Mendoza.

''This is not a straightforward moralistic piece of propaganda, these people are damaged and their lives not on a simple upward curve of improvement after the typhoon. Distributed debris of sentimental flotsam and jetsam hint at the life swept away with the waters, photos and keepsakes are strewn and abandoned and pain is etched along with bloody scars onto the Tacloban residents' faces.

''Taklub highlights that the days which follow disasters are ones of fear, of poverty and of deprivation as ruined communities can no longer support themselves which is an issue much overlooked by the global elite. Climate change is not merely an immediate threat of dangerous phenomenon but a long-term and insidious catalyst for economic decline as our productivity and resources are laid to waste and we must assume an economic responsibility for those who are receiving the brunt of the force from the planet we've ruined.

''Through unnerving shots of young girls being ogled in the absence of their parents, Taklub hints at the dark underbelly of the crime that grows in poverty and the handheld camerawork goes a way to supporting the crushing claustrophobia of a world in decay.

''The government here is no white knight saviour of these people - instead, acting as an useless mouthpiece telling people to relocate without providing alternatives - and tempers and grievances flow as the people grow evermore alone. This builds to a gritty crescendo without a sense of neat closure - indeed the opposite, as we sense that there are probably many communities that are another Taklub out in the world living these horrors.

''Recipient of the Ecumenical Jury Prize-Special Mention at Cannes, a fourth time for Mendoza, this film proves that one can make an intimate film that deals with large-scale and important issues in a way that still affords the opportunity for serious consideration in mainstream film and awards.
Understated but gripping, moral without being preachy, the film demonstrates understanding of the spectrum of human emotion without melodramatically deifying the characters for their suffering.

 ''Taklub contains just the message we should be sending to the circus around COP21, that climate change action is about the prevention of suffering and not merely a war on the elements. It reinvigorates the debate around what we can do, what we should do and what we owe it to others to do.''

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