In person: John Torres
Community partner: Fil/Am Arts
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 2220 Arts will include the newly commissioned film, Room in a crowd, a recent short, and a work-in-progress.
“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
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.
We still have to close our eyes
2019, color, sound, 13 mins
Repurposed documentary footage captured from the sets of various Filipino productions (including the likes of Lav Diaz and Erik Matti) into an eerie, elliptical sci-fi narrative about human avatars controlled by apps.
Room in a crowd
2023, digital, color, sound, 45 minutes, World Premiere!
A diaristic exploration of time, loss, and sound that roams during the pandemic. The sound of a late night car ride saying goodbye to a friend, recorded as the filmmaker prepares to move to Berlin with his family, forms the foundation of this personal documentary. From the faint sound of a daycare Zoom class in Manila to the rhythm of a windshield wiper during heavy rain to the hypnotic tone of a car engine on idle as the filmmaker waits for the friend to come in, we are transported to spaces that evoke a dream-like yet continuing diary of the past tumultuous years.
Composed of a collage of recorded moments across locked-down spaces, it gathers Zoom recordings with a four-year-old daughter, student video submissions in production classes through the pandemic, and dashcam footage of an ambushed newsman, juxtaposed with commercial stock footage to explore how personal emotions may still resonate in neutral compositions. These were edited only after the move to Berlin months after. And across this collage, diegetic and non-diegetic relations between sound and image shift to explore how distance is felt to evoke memory and longing. Reflections emerge on years as parent, filmmaker, and a grieving son, always striving to capture time through these different cycles.
Work-in-progress, 42 mins
Sci-fi version of We still have to close our eyes, where humans in an island are being used as avatars for a mobile driving app by a mysterious voice that controls their bodies. The filmmaking process has started, and the film ends midway as police investigates a road accident involving one of the remote avatars, taking us on a journey to identify the voice that controls bodies of several citizens.