It was in early part of 2000s when the first batch of indie films, at least the gay-themed ones, prominently made its way to the cinemas. The likes of director Crisaldo Pablo made it seem possible for just about anyone who has a camera and a movie maker software to make (arguably) quality films easy. “Duda” (Doubt), Pablo’s first successful gay-themed indie film (arguably) paved the way for other indie filmmakers. And while some succeeded, others failed to encapsulate what a “decent” gay-themed film should be.
Here is a question worth asking: In the LGBTQ community, are indie films still relevant?
There have been countless of films that were memorable, like Adolf Alix Jr.’s “Daybreak”, Joselito Altarejos’s “Ang Lihim ni Antonio”, and Auraeus Solito’s “Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros”, among others. Notably, these movies became successful in their own ways because the story did not solely revolve around sex. Although their production wasn’t as superb as other indie films, their storylines were strong and they depicted… something real, in a way.
Admittedly, there were other films that were memorable not because of their narratives, or their production, but because of their shallow sex narratives. While not everyone may agree with this observation, but Queeriosity Video Project can be argued to have made a name for producing these kinds of films. In truth, there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, it’s great to have these kinds of films – after all, they diversify the selection of flicks LGBTQ people can watch. But then again, to be completely blunt, it’s not politically right to dub these films as “empowering the LGBTQ people.”
Of course, who can forget “Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington”? That movie that attempted to be funny by ridiculing gays and using false representations. Then there was “Slumber Party”, another film that used the stereotyped gay images to make the story more “profound”, though it failed by giving the audience instead the wrong notions of how gays act in front of heterosexuals.
The list goes on and on and on… with these indie films (sadly) following the same pattern.
Be honest now: When was the last time you saw a somewhat decent gay-themed movie, where sex was not its main attraction?
Recently, “Mga Adan sa Paraiso” entered the picture. This is another indie film that attempts to break the pattern of the usual titillating-type of films.
“Mga Adan sa Paraiso is different from other indie films. It tackles the different agendas of homosexuals – how they are being ridiculed and discriminated in the community,” Neys Paolo Cruz, executive producer of Mga Adan sa Paraiso, said in an exclusive Outrage Magazine interview.
“Mga Adan sa Paraiso” tells the story of an ex-seminarian, Raffy, who decided to leave his theological service to find his real self. He met with his friends and they went home to his native town, Nueva Ecija. He was then forced to face the questions he had for himself. During his stay in the province, Raffy had sexual relations with a woman. But this experience did not answer his needs completely. He continued to question himself. And then one night, for some reason, one of his (male) friends went to his room and persuaded him to have sex.
“The titillating scenes are a given when it comes to indie films, that is already a fact. It’s something to attract the audience. But in this film, it’s not all about sex. There’s (also) comedy and hard drama,” Cruz said.
The film was shot in only two days.
“I can’t really compare our movie to other movies since I haven’t seen other indie films as well,” Cruz said, adding that with “Mga Adan sa Paraiso“, at least they attempted to have something that is “well-crafted” to “capture the hearts of the audience.”
“Mga Adan sa Paraiso” is slated to premier sometime this month. With no available trailer anywhere, the audience is left to speculate if the movie will join the roster of tasteless carnal films, or if it will have a storyline worth looking forward to.
Now back to the question: Are gay-themed indie films still relevant today? Particularly since it can be argued that the likes of GMA’s “My Husband’s Lover”, TV5’s “POSI+IVE” or ABS-CBN’s “That’s My Tomboy” and “I Am PoGay” already contribute to the mainstreaming of LGBTQ presence in the media, even if the LGBTQ images they represent can be questioned. Still, the mere fact that these giant networks are now devoting so much airtime touching on LGBTQ people remains noteworthy.
And so we ask again, can’t (most) gay-themed indie films be more like the ones in Cinemalaya, where almost everything is well thought of even if the production is not as grand as those produced in the mainstream? Or should the audience just stop expecting that there will be another decent gay-themed indie film again and just wait for big production companies or networks to produce one?