The Magic of Cinema in Jun Lana’s ‘Anino Sa Likod ng Buwan’

First off, this is more like a movie review, and even though I’ve reviewed “Anino Sa Likod ng Buwan” after its Philippine premiere at the QCinema Film Festival last year and turned to be my top movie of 2015, I just feel the need to express more of this magnificent film by Jun Robles Lana.

Months after, Yabang Pinoy held special screenings plus a masterclass which turned out to be a question and answer of his film (not that we’re complaining) at the Fullybooked, Bonifacio Global City. And this July (possibly July 20), a planned nationwide release at select cinemas.

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Anino Sa Likod ng Buwan is unlike any Filipino film I’ve seen before. Not just because of its long shots (well, there’s Kanakan-Balintagos’ Esprit De Corps & Remton Zuasola’s Swap), but because of how it was written, directed, acted, everything about the film is just laudable.

Carlo Mendoza, who also worked with Lana in films such as Bwakaw (2012), Barber’s Tales (2013) and mainstream films The PreNup (2015) and Haunted Mansion (2015), is the film’s director of photography. The guy is a multi-awarded cinematographer, so even though filming Anino sa Likod ng Buwan is a challenge, bringing him to the team makes things easier.

Anino sa Likod ng Buwan is a magical experience, not in a Harry Potter or Mary Poppins way, but because it’s incredibly immersive. It gets you to feel a bit claustrophobic when the situation gets more intense as the story progresses and thinking about how the film is done while watching it is just unimaginable and that’s magic, that’s one of the best things, a rare treat in watching a movie.

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The story isn’t simple but it’s precise in how it is told, Emma (LJ Reyes) and Nando (Anthony Falcon) are a refugee couple who lives in a shack (where the whole movie is filmed with a 2 hours running time, that is insane, right?), set in the 1990s during the time when communist resistance are hiding in the secluded areas in the Philippines. The two are joined by their military friend Joel (Luis Alandy), who often visits them, hands them food and other stuff for them to have a more comfortable stay.

Everything happens at that shack, every second of the film’s two hours. It might sound boring but it isn’t, at all. Which is amazing because the story is built through conversations between these three characters, these three characters who, as the story progresses, reveals more about their identities as well. This is something we hardly see in a film, not just locally but also internationally.

It’s a marvelous experience to see the film, while many are busy with reboots, remakes, sequels or the usual romantic comedy films, a daring movie sets out to be one of the films to see in our lifetime. It gets to be entertaining, fun, intense, nerve-racking and soulfully satisfying.

LJ Reyes deserves all the awards she got locally and internationally along with other awards the film received. This is something different, something bold, something everyone (who’s at the right age) should see. It’s a film that will make you scream and curse for its greatness.

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5 Stars

“Anino Sa Likod ng Buwan (Shadow Behind the Moon)” opens in select cinemas (Gateway Cineplex, Robinsons Galleria, Festival Mall Alabang, Gaisano Cinemas: Tagum, Davao, Toril, Digos) from APT Entertainment, OctoberTrain, An IdeaFirst Company, Quiapost. Rated R-18 without cuts by the MTRCB.

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