Two Filipino indie films play at Toronto festival

TORONTO -Two Filipino films are currently showing at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which runs until September 19. Dinig Sana Kita, is a romance between a girl rocker and a deaf dancer, while Independencia, is a family drama set during the Fil-American War in 1898.

Written, directed and produced by Mike Sandejas, Dinig Sana Kita stars Romalito Mallari, Robert Seña, Lorenzo Mara, and Sandejas’ daughter, Zoe. The two lead actors bring a touch of realism to their roles. Zoe Sandejas is an aspiring singer-songwriter in real life, while Mallari, a stage actor and dancer, is truly deaf. Both Mallari and the young Sandejas are currently in Toronto for the festival with director, Mike Sandejas.

Dinig Sana Kita, also known by its international title, If I Knew What You Said, is entered in the Contemporary World Cinema section of the festival, which, according to the official TIFF web site, is dedicated to the “best of current international filmmaking.” The film won the Audience Choice award at the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival last July. It has also been invited to the Hawaii International Film Festival in October and the Brussels Independent International Film Festival in November.

IndependenciaDirector Raya Martin’s, Independencia stars Alessandra de Rossi, Tetchie Agbayani, and Sid Lucero. Shot entirely in a studio against painted backdrops in the style of early film, Independencia follows a mother and son as they flee into the jungle to escape American occupying forces during the Philippines struggle for independence at the turn of the 20th century.

Independencia made history as the first Filipino film to be shown in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival last May. It is entered in the Vision program for its North American premiere. According to the official website of the Toronto IFF, this section is dedicated to “innovative works of newcomers and veteran filmmakers who are pushing the boundaries of contemporary cinema.”

Aside the Toronto festival, Independencia is also competing at the Vladivostok International Film Festival in Russia this month and at the New York Film Festival that runs from September 25 to October 11. Director Raya is not attending the current festivals out of respect for film critics Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc who were killed in Quezon City recently. Both critics were close to Raya and championed his film, Independencia.

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