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New Filipino Cinema 

Wednesday, Jun 10 2015
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A little girl lying in a coffin: That's the first image we see during the first film on view in this year's New Filipino Cinema showcase at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. It's called The Coffin Maker, logically, and the title character is the girl's poor father, who spends the movie going through hell. This bracingly unaffected film plays out in a very low key. It involves a downward spiral of tragic absurdity, and an extortion racket as entrenched and ferocious as any you'll see in an American mob movie, yet much more haunting for its callous indifference. "Dying sure is costly, huh?" someone later says to the coffin maker, and yes, in this situation, you certainly could say that. It should be added: That arresting first shot isn't quite what it seems to be, nor necessarily a summary of New Filipino Cinema in general, which can probably only be summarized with the disclaimer that it can't easily be summarized. But YBCA's fourth annual installment of this special festival reliably collects some of the most dynamic and diverse independent cinema in the world. Topics other than the costliness of dying include but are not limited to typhoon devastation, the long-lasting fallout from dictatorship, and oblique love stories with supernatural twists. Also, there are some simply great titles, like Relaks, It's Just Pag-Ibig.

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Jonathan Kiefer

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SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.

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