From July 1 to 12, Paris Cinema will screen forty Filipino films. I've been asked what to recommend; basically I recommend watching all the titles--Filipino cinema is too varied and rich a bounty to relegate to a mere tasting (and we Filipinos are voracious eaters). But if you must pick and choose or are on a diet, or regimen or budget (quel dommage!) here's my picks:
Of Brilliante Mendoza, who's a festival favorite at the moment, I recommend The Teacher and John-John. Serbis (his latest) has had mixed reviews, but I haven't seen it, so I can't judge (and mixed reviews will if anything pique my interest). If you must pick one, I say The Teacher.
I recommend all of Joey Gosiengfiao; he's not as outrageous as John Waters, but he has the same camp sensibility, more sophistication, and on a comparable (perhaps smaller) budget. Personally I prefer him to Pedro Almodovar (who I think is overrated, anyway). If you must pick one, I recommend Temptation Island.
Of the Cinemalaya program, I haven't seen everything, but I hear good things about Endo and Donsol, I liked Big Time, really liked The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros. The latter is my top recommendation (it's available on DVD, though...)
Of Panorama, again I recommend seeing all, but if you must pick and choose, I highly recommend Boatman, Himala, Midnight Passion, A Short Film on Indo Nacional, Todo Todo Teros, Will Your Heart Beat Faster?, Woman of Breakwater, You Were Weighed and Found Wanting.
If I were to pare it down, I would recommend--uh, tough, but I'd pick Indio Nacional, Todo Todo Teros, Boatman, Himala, Midnight Passion, You Were Weighed and Found Wanting. If I had to pick one, argh--You Were Weighed and Found Wanting.
But wait--You Were Weighed is also on DVD (so is Woman of Breakwater, which isn't O'Hara's very best, but is I think an excellent film). In which case, I recommend the harder-to-see Midnight Passion, Boatman, Himala. If I had to pick one, Midnight Passion (Big admirer of Tikoy Aguiluz's works, and Boatman is one of his best, but not his very best--that would be Bagong Bayani (Unsung Heroine, 1995)).
Of the newer ones, the two best are easily Todo Todo Teros and Indio Nacional.