lessons from film lovers

Elephant (2003)

Elephant (2003)


Today was spent in bed, wrapped in the sheets. The weather was anticipatory of the grief that was yet to be revealed to me but somehow, I felt safe this morning. I had seen the sun rise and I was happy after spending the night watching Wong Kar Wai’s My Blueberry Nights and Gus Van Sant’s Elephant. I wanted to write so badly about them because they reminded me of things I loved. The shots from Elephant reminded me of the first few shots I took with my old LCA. The collage of shots that kept going from one frame to another confused me at first and the fact that little sound accompanied the film gave me this eerie vibe. True enough, the film was quite disturbing. So, I thought I’d write a bit: Film appreciation is a lot like traveling for me except the places are often those traversed not by foot but through the eyes and ears of the heart. Sure, I thought I knew words and I knew photos but when I met film, I was blown away. How incredible is it that both mediums can add so much depth to our perception of things? Unbelievable, yes?

But all the raving about both films and how powerful they were (despite certain scenes that didn’t need to be included) were slowly diminished by the news that my country had lost a son. Alexis Tioseco, a young film critic suffered gunshots fired by people who had robbed his home. He lay dead next to his beloved, Nika Bohinc, Slovenian writer and lover of films. The tributes have been circulating in various circles online and the grief hasn’t quite set in yet.

Alexis&Nika by Christian Yambing

Alexis&Nika by Christian Yambing


I had never met any of them in person. The first time I found out about Alexis was through a now dog-eared and over-read copy of Rogue magazine. He wrote an article on himself in the form of a love letter to Nika that quickly became a moving opus on Philippine cinema. I remember crying while reading it because I never knew anyone who loved our films like he did. I knew the state of films in our country and here was a guy telling us that we had much to be proud of. He did this without wanting anything for himself. It was an act of love that moved me and I would later learn that he was a gentle soul with a soft-spoken passion and deep love for our country’s films. I hoped to someday manage to meet him. In my mind, I had imagined him to be an old, learned man–if you read what he wrote above and most of what he penned for his online publication, Criticine then you would have seen him the way I did and thought him slightly less like the 29-year-old that he was.

Recently, about a month ago, he appeared as a panelist on ANC’s Media In Focus along with Butch Dalisay and Carlo J. Caparas. He was expressing his views on the current National Artist scandal that erupted when all of a sudden, a very peeved Caparas told him off and said he was too young to know anything. Unlike other brash, idealistic young kids, Alexis kept his calm and refused to be disrespectful. That’s when I knew I had to break my silence. I rushed to the computer searching for his email and I wrote him a one-liner just because he was a hero in my eyes. The next day, I was surprised to see a reply. I always thought important people were snobs but I was happy to be proven wrong. That was the kind of guy he was and now, more than ever, I feel stupid for not making an effort to get to know him.

I always thought it was inevitable to run into him one of these days but I guess another lesson learned has to do with time and what it means to live for the moment. Let’s not waste our time thinking there’ll be more because often there’s none and all we can really do while we’re alive is make time to tell the people who matter that they do.

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