Los Angeles Filmforum and Whammy! Analog present John Torres: Poet of Philippine Cinema
In person: John Torres
Filmforum has commissioned five artists to make new work, generously funded by the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, and over the next year will be presenting the premieres of the works, including discussions with the artists. We are delighted to welcome John Torres from the Philippines for two public screenings, one at Whammy! Analog on June 30, and one at 2220 Arts on Sunday July 2. The screening at Whammy! is the US premiere of his latest feature film. People Power Bombshell: The Diary of Vietnam Rose. The screening at 2220 Arts will include the newly commissioned film and additional shorts.
“John Torres is the poet of Philippine cinema. A poet with his own rules and ways of working.” -International Film Festival Rotterdam
"...Torres is not only one of the best Filipino directors of his generation, but also one of the (already fulfilled) promises of contemporary cinema." -Festival Internacional de Cine UNAM
People Power Bombshell: The Diary of Vietnam Rose is a self-reflexive slow fever dream of a film that lies close to documentary but also seems like a new form. Connecting with actor Liz Alindogan and some twenty rolls of film she had from an unfinished film by Filipino director Celso Advento Castillo, Torres edited and created a new soundtrack, re-uniting the original cast members to provide commentary while watching the film decades later. The original work, shot in the 1980s, while Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” was also filming nearby in the Philippines and the People Power movement was forming that would lead to the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos, followed a desperate group of Vietnamese attempting to escape on a boat bound for the Philippines during the Vietnam War, but with some lurid erotic moments and splashes of violence. The edited work identifies the heart of that film as an expression of existential angst of a never-ending journey, but overlaid with beautiful film decay and with editorial comment of the gossip and politics of the film’s creation.
John Torres is an independent filmmaker, musician and writer. He has made more than a dozen short films and five features. His work fictionalizes and reworks personal and found documentations of love, family relations, and memory in relation to current events, hearsays, myth, and folklore. He teaches at the University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University and conducts filmmaking workshops and co-organizes artist talks and screenings in Los Otros, a Manila-based space, film lab, and platform committed to the intersections of film and art, with a focus on process over product. A special focus of his works has been shown at the Viennale, Seoul, Cosquín, and Bangkok.
People Power Bombshell: The Diary of Vietnam Rose
2016, color, sound, digital, 89 minutes, US premiere!
In the country of his birth, Celso Advento Castillo (1943-2012) is lauded as ‘the Saviour of Filipino cinema’. His oeuvre of more than 60 films is highly original and extremely diverse. He has made thrillers, action and horror films, and in the 1970s also put ‘bomba films’ on the map: erotic drama in which he was able to also tell stories – often with a moral. In the 1980s, he worked on a feature film with the then 19-year-old actress Liz Alindogan, the sexy promise of the moment. Unfortunately, financial and logistics problems meant the film was never completed.
More than 30 years later, John Torres used 20 recovered film rolls from this project to make a new film. Mixed with found footage and with a new overdub, this is a making-of film with a mysterious twist. A homage to the master, but also to the power of cinematic imagination. - International Film Festival Rotterdam https://iffr.com/en/iffr/2017/films/people-power-bombshell-the-diary-of-vietnam-rose
“Moving through the history of the Philippines, the legacy of the national cinema, the nature of filmmaking, and the ontology of film, “People Power Bombshell: The Diary of Vietnam Rose” is one of the most exciting films we've seen recently.” -- I-Lin Liu, Asian Movie Pulse