A stiff drink is necessary before watching this film, writes NATALIE PALOMO.
Metro Manila is the confronting journey of a young family who moves from starvation in the Banaue province to find a better life in the city. Inadvertently, they find themselves entangled in the bowels of poverty and incessant corruption, where even the most helpful friends cannot ever be trusted. It's a social drama with thriller elements, and as a friend who had already seen it warned, "Have a stiff drink before you watch it".
Metro Manila the movie
I was dubious at first, as the film was made by an Anglo Saxon British director, Sean Ellis. He did not speak Tagalog, nor had he lived there. I had walked in wishing that someone of Filipino descent had made the film that won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award last year.
But as I became emotionally engrossed in the film I realised that Sean had obviously immersed himself in the culture and was respectful of the Filipino people.
I have to say it: Metro Manila shocked me to tears, even hours after it finished. It is a film about family, sacrifice and love – elements that are key to the Filipino heart. It is tightly scripted and uncompromising in its tone, and yet it delivers an authenticity that only an outsider with a keen eye could observe.
As I am in pre-production on a microbudget feature film set in public housing, I can certainly empathise with the challenges Sean had to face in making the film by himself. A lot of respect has to go to a man who put complete trust in his actors and collaborators, creating a film in a language other than his own, in conditions so alien to his home country.
I think every Filipino should watch Metro Manila, as it reflects both the beauty and the devastation that underscores our home country. But most of all, everyone should watch it because it’s a fantastic piece of cinema.
The final showing of 'Metro Manila' in Sydney will be on 28 March, 8.30pm session at Event Cinemas, Liverpool.
Natalie Palomo is a producer and director. You can find out more about her work on www.breathefilms.net