Flicks and Reruns: Sana Dati and Ekstra

Was able to watch two Cinemalaya 2013 movies, Sana Dati and Ekstra. Both were really good movies and copped much of the awards during the recent festival. Sana Dati (Director's Showcase Best Film, Best Sound Design, Best Original Score, Best Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actor for TJ Trinidad) while Ekstra grabbed Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress for Ruby Ruiz and star Vilma Santos received Best Actress honors.

Sana Dati

Dennis  (Paulo Avelino)  is a mysterious videographer who still uses a 3-CCD camera in this age  of CMOS video-capable DSLR cameras, he is commissioned to document the wedding day of Andrea (Lovi Poe) and young politician Robert (TJ Trinidad).

That detail about the 3ccd camera will point out that Andrea is not just a regular wedding client and Dennis is not just an ordinary videographer for Andrea,  he an enigmatic character on a collision path to her confused feelings, The 3ccd camera, a relic of an unresolved past something which might alter the present and define her future.

The camera has figured prominently in Jerrold Tarog's works particularly in his critically-acclaimed debut film Confessional. it is some sort of a narrative device to his films, in fact Sana Dati is Jerrold's third installment to his camera trilogy the first was Confessional (2007) then Mangatyanan (2009).

The camera in Sana Dati provides the frame of an imperfect romance; a confused bride, an insecure and somewhat unsure groom and a melancholic videographer, all crossing paths in one day.

The cinematography is just visually stunning, fittingly complementing this smartly-written intimate movie. Make sure to be glued to the movie as it leaves hints and small details for the viewers to pick up and which holds our interest from beginning to end.

Despite characters' emotions being powerful undercurrents there is wonderful restraint among the actors. For a lesser director the movie could go mushy melodramatic but in Sana Dati, subtlety brings much texture to the characters' emotional valleys.

Sana Dati is an engaging romance movie which tackles love at its most fluid state, a dynamic struggle between the heart and the mind, between the past and the present.

*CCD-Charge Coupled Device   *CMOS-Complementary Metal Oxide-Semiconductor


A day in the life of a soap opera extra. Vilma Santos plays Loida a veteran extra who makes a living doing crowd scenes in teleserye projects.

She is involved in a particular teleserye which stars Marian Rivera and Piolo Pascual, unknown to the cast and extras, the production budget had been slashed forcing the production crew to work on a killer schedule which takes a toll on them physically and psychologically, the 'punching-bag' of this super-charged emotional stress-the hapless extras.

I can't help but compare Ate Vi's latest indie flick with screen rival Nora Aunor's recent acting masterpiece in last year's Brillante Mendoza's indie Thy Womb- the two great cinema icons playing out new albeit unglamorous roles; for Ate Guy a Badjao midwife and for Ate Vi, a hardworking television bit talent and the two acquitted themselves really well, in fact  Ate Guy won several international acting awards for her role and for Governor Santos-Recto, winning best actress in Cinemalaya could be the first salvo of several acting awards for her role in the film.

Aside from being a homage to the bit players in the movie and television industry Ekstra is Ms. Vilma Santos acting vehicle, the "star for all seasons" immerses and disappears into her role as the optimistic TV bit player and a single mother trying to make ends meet.

And as common with Ms. Aunor's Thy Womb they were helmed by new unconventional independent directors (Jeffrey Jeturian for Ekstra), if you remember the two actresses blazing away in high-strung acting scenes of glossy dramas many years ago, you will see them acting with grounded restraint and remarkable subtlety particularly the finale scenes of the two movies (Thy Womb and Ekstra) both great actresses communicating through their eyes the plight of their characters.


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