Festivals, Reviews

QCinema 2022: RainbowQC Shorts—Intimate Intensities of the Queer Filipino Experience

Queer people have always been confined. Their visibility has always been limited to the quiet and privacy of one’s own, left to linger in their desires that can’t be celebrated in public. The dedication of their narratives through Rainbow Shorts in the 10th year of the QCinema Film Festival presents these issues no longer remaining in unknown spaces, but placed in the limelight as possibilities for one another. 

Dikit, through a split-screen, diverges the stories of two women in conflict with their bodies. On the one hand, a manananggal (Mariana Serrano) longs to carry a child of her own, preying on pregnant women to feel a semblance of that experience. On the other, a pregnant woman (Mika Zarcal) is struggling with uncertain motherhood due to her partner’s abuse. Their intersection comes close despite being out of the ordinary. They go against the forces trapping them, sticking out for each other. They share consolation in each other’s arms and embrace their shared reality now intertwined. 

There’s something so terrifying in being familiar with the ongoings of How to Die Young in Manila. On its 12-minute run, we follow a gay teenage boy (Elijah Canlas) on his way to meet up with an online match (Kokoy de Los Santos) for a late-night hookup. This kind of narrative has been at the forefront for many gay men, meeting with strangers in the most dead places to feel alive. But the film presents the eerie reality of this pursuit: their bodies are often dispatched and unnoticed. Though its presentation is very much relevant to the persistent culture of violence and impunity against the LGBT, I seek a more introspective look—seeking more empathy rather than just shock factor to pursue more actionable understanding. 

Isang Daa’t Isang Mariposa provides closure. Lola Perla (Ronnie Martinez), in her hundred years of age, gets rewarded with a cash sum for living her life to the fullest, enabling her to do one last act of love by bailing out her past lover’s son (Manuel Chua) in jail. In her last dance, she recalls in that simple moment her lover’s face. She embraces him entirely and sets herself free. When we think about the movement, it’s often so focused on the youth of today, despite it being founded and championed by the ones before us. Seeing some of them gaining happiness at the very end can allow them to take flight beyond what they left behind. 

The same kind of hope lingers in Contestant #4. An old man (Joel Saracho) revels in his nostalgia when a teenage boy (Elijah Canlas) appears in his house. Although we see this old man revisit his past of walking down the runway with his white dress as “Contestant #4,” we don’t really see him talk about this longing explicitly. He seems to have settled on his current reality of being a provider as the eldest son and caretaker of his childhood home. Regardless of the teenage boy’s attempts at pulling the old man back into his buried splendor, the latter has grown acquainted with his duties and has in some sense grown out of that splendor.

i get so sad sometimes lets one wallow. Jake (JC Santiago) is at the end of the world when his online lover blocks him online. He starts to distance himself from everyone, even from his boyfriend Marco (Karl Louie Caminade). He chooses to stay in his room, constantly replaying his conversations with a stranger he’s never got to touch but has exchanged the most nude parts of himself with. Heartbreak isn’t as dramatic as most make it out to be; most of the time, it’s one staring into their bedroom poster, thinking of a distant possibility where reconciliation might be possible. 

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