cinemalaya’s pusong bato
Stones may break your bones and quite possibly your heart, too, according to this year’s Cinemalaya best film
AT SOME POINT in our lives, something is bound to hit us hard in the head and make us fall at on our faces. It could be a rock, it could be love, it could be both. Such was the story of Cinemalaya ’s best lm, Pusong Bato, directed by 23year old Martika Ramirez Escobar, a lm major from the University of The Philippines.
One day, Martika found herself randomly thinking, what if I fell in love with a rock? (Why so? She has no idea). She was so fascinated with the concept that she looked it up and found that attraction to inanimate objects is real. It’s called objectophilia, a strong xation out of love and commitment to items or structures. According to studies, objectophiles commonly believe in animism, thinking that even lifeless things have souls, feelings, and intelligence.
“I researched the whole thing for four years before my thesis semester. I wanted to pursue that concept for my other class productions but ended up having doubts if I could pull it off. But for my thesis lm, I just knew I had to do it. I had a feeling that I was ready,” she says. Well, the golden balangay pretty much proves she was. You really love movies, don’t you? What got you started? I grew up in a creative family. My grandma studied ne arts in college and my mom is a mass communication graduate. They are the arts and crafts types who nurtured an artistic atmosphere at home. In the ‘90s, handycams were somehow staple household items. So when I was a kid, my grandfather got one of those for our family. It was my mother who would often use the camera to take videos of anything and everything.
As a kid, I remember being amazed by how this small device captured reality. Luckily, when I got a bit older, my mom allowed me to use our handycam. It quickly became my favorite toy. Without knowing it, I already had my own stack of videotapes, all full of shots of our pets, house and family.
How did you know it’s what you wanted to do? I have always been interested in moving pictures but it was only in high school when I decided to take it seriously. During my “rocker” phase in high school, with matching black nail polish and checkered Vans, I got fond of watching local music videos. It’s just simply my two favorite things in the world—music and movies. Then I learned that many of my favorite music video directors studied lmmaking in college. I thought, “Wow, it’s a legit course!” Then and there, I said, “I want to take up lm and become a music video director lmmaker.” Must be really exciting to be part of Cinemalaya. How was the experience? It was extra special! I have been a follower of the festival for almost half a decade already, so it is just overwhelming to watch my lm in the same screen where I rst saw many of the works that had inspired me as a lmmaker.
It’s also cool because I got to meet a lot of new people—fellow lmmakers, industry
professionals, lm enthusiasts and of course, people who got to see our work.
But the best part of Cinemalaya for me is our screenings. It’s the best feeling in the world to see and hear people react to images that were once only ideas in my head. It felt surreal, like a shared dream. What’s it like working with acclaimed actress Mailes Kanapi? I remember her telling me that she’s crazy. She really is, and it is perfect! Since we’re both admittedly crazy, it became much easier to work with each other. No doubt that she is an amazing actress. She’s a great collaborator too. There are a number of decisions in our shoot made by both of us. What aspect of producing Pusong Bato did you find most challenging? It has to be the writing process. The urry of ideas, imagined scenes, characters, and thesis deadlines just drove me crazy. It’s a neverending struggle to gauge if the script is at its best version.
The rest of the process from pre- to postproduction went smoothly, thanks to my very lovely, passionate, and tiwang team. Where do you see Philippine Cinema in the next five years? It’s hard to tell, and I’m not the best person to ask but, from the eyes of a newcomer and a young lmmaker such as myself, I can say that I can only see good things for Philippine Cinema.
It has drastically changed throughout the years, thanks to our history, culture, government, etc. It really is an ever-changing industry. Right now, people still ask about the difference between mainstream and indie but I think that in ve years, that wouldn’t be much of an issue anymore. If it still is, it will be more about the
“People still ask about the difference between mainstream and indie films, but I think that in five years, that wouldn’t be much of an issue anymore.”
purpose of the lm (business or art), rather than the style, form, or manner of storytelling that people will use to compare the two labels.
Gladly, recent years have proven that even the formula that we know and are so used to is already starting to change. There are many game changers in the industry and the Filipino audience now seems to be more open-minded. The boom of grant-giving festivals is also proof that there is hope for the brave and creative lmmaker who wants to bring his her lm to life, even without the big studios. The existence of such festivals is important because they are the ones who have the power to shape the Filipino audience into a more critical one. Do you have a dream movie that you want to direct and produce? Right now, I have two. One is a short lm, another meta- lm that would be the third installment of this trilogy I’m making that involves lm genres. What I can tell you is that it’s a modern
bomba lm. The other one, a potentially fulllength project, involves a mermaid. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything yet. But I hope these projects happen! If you were to fall in love with an object, what would it be?
Above: After an earthquake, Cinta Dela Cruz (Mailes Kanapi) wakes up with a strong fascination for a rock she found lying in front of her.
Clockwise from left: A young Cinta (Anna Deroca) was once local cinema’s sweetheart, here paired with matinee idol Edgardo Salvador (Acey Aguilar). The official poster of Pusong Bato. A funny exchange between Cinta and a local pastor giving her advice...