#Cinemalaya2023 Reviews: Iti Mapukpukaw, Rookie, As If It’s True

Before I write my reviews of these three amazing Cinemalaya movies, I would like to share that I watched them three in one day, making my watching experience wonderful. Three movies about connection, good and bad.

Directed by Carl Joseph Papa

We don’t get a lot of Filipino animated movies and when we do, we usually question why they decided to make it animated because of how long and costly the filming process is but with Carl Joseph Papa’s case, It’s usually because he knows what he is doing. And that includes his newest film Iti Mapukpukaw or The Missing.

The film has an unusual plot. The audience is introduced to a character who doesn’t talk in his world but visually, he also doesn’t have a mouth. We get to see Eric (Carlo Aquino) live a normal life, having work as an animator, always carrying his whiteboard and whiteboard marker in case he needed to communicate with other people.

Connection. Apart from the film’s biggest moment in the end, what I got while watching Iti Mapukpukaw is Eric’s connection with his mother, the connection he made with his workmate and his connection with himself that ultimately made him redeem himself.

The intention of making the film animated is clear. The story is multi-layered, presented clearer with the choices made with the animation.

It’s impeccable how the most mundane activities and conversations can turn these animated characters to people that will affect me dearly. Of course, there are fantasy elements in the film but oddly it may be, Iti Mapukpukaw feels like it was told by someone closest to you, in the most delicate and inventive way.


AS IF IT’S TRUE (2023) Review
Directed by John Rogers

This may seem like your typical problematic youth and their relationship with people and social media. It is, actually but more.

John Rogers’ As If It’s True is a well-written and entertaining character study of two individuals in the social media era. Khalil Ramos and Ashley Ortega manage to create more than just a chemistry for their roles, they also performed their characters with conviction that as an audience, I was invested with how things will turn out in their make-believe relationship especially the whole world is watching.

There’s this one specific scene in which people will most likely talk about: the confrontation scene. The dialogues between Gemma (Ortega) and James (Ramos) felt really organic and how the they blurted out every line, for me, it was one of the best confrontation scenes in recent memory. It was intense.

The story or how the way it was told may not be something new but the execution is impressive especially for a directorial debut for a full length film.


ROOKIE (2023) Review
Directed by Samantha Lee

You probably need someone to watch this one with. Because as I was watching, I can’t contain my kilig that I wanted to slap someone. No kidding.

Samantha Lee’s newest LGBTQIA+ love story is not only for the community but for everyone. Because it manages to be more than just a love story of two girls turning women, it’s not just about volleyball or sports, it’s also about the struggles of being someone new in school, fitting in and being able to be yourself in a religious setting.

It was quite a pleasant movie experience. The awkwardness in Pat Tingjuy’s acting being a first time artist made the film more charming and Aya Fernandez’s strong personality balances that. This is my favorite Samantha Lee movie so far. You can feel how she loves directing her story and how she wants her story to be felt by the audiences.


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