Feature – Spain, Philippines / UK Première
Raya Martin / Spain/Philippines / 2011 / 70 min
The Philippines’ relationship with Spain is one of those centuries-old entanglements which will never be easy to capture in film. Colonised from the 16th century, Philippine independence didn’t arrive until the late 19th century, with sovereignty still a combative issue. A shared history between the two nations is admirably explored by Raya Martin here, but with far too much Warholesque indulgence posing as intellectual enquiry.
Martin attempts to tell a story of cultural exchange and conflict through symbols, images and landscapes, as his two protagonists travel through time. Filtered through yellow, grey and indigo lenses, the film’s psychedelic edginess reflects a dizzying glimpse into the complexity of time travel. To say this is difficult viewing is an understatement; there is no dialogue, heavy repetition and seemingly everlasting still shots. For a film which is trying to communicate a monstrously large and labyrinthine topic, it is embarrassingly disengaging. A painfully monotonous soundtrack alienates the viewer further, attempting to impress how otherworldly time travel is, but ultimately causing confusion in a film which requires direct and measured focus. This may appeal to experimental cinema lovers whose concentration skills are razor-sharp, but Martin approaches the history with too much filmic extravagance and makes hard work of an already thorny subject.
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