John Torres is “Mapang-akit.” September 12, 2011Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Interview, Noypi.
Closing the 4th .MOV International Film, Music, and Literature Festival is the premiere of John Torres’s Mapang-akit. Bookended by two new short films and behind-the-scenes footage from Lav Diaz’s Agonistes, Mapang-akit was warmly received by audience members at the UP Cine Adarna. At the Q&A that follows the screening, John talks about the process of shooting the film that pays tribute to his friends Alexis and Nika.
Let’s talk about Mapang-akit. How is it different from your first three features?
Mapang-akit’s running time is less than an hour, so it’s actually a short film. It is an attempt to salvage something from my first collaboration work, which ended up differently from what I had envisioned.
How did the idea for the film come about?
We made a short trip to a nearby village in Antique where a fellow filmmaker had some relatives. The atmosphere was quite far from the festive or gloomy celebration that happens in the province, so I figured I might as well immerse myself in the community. After Ang Ninanais, in which I played around with spoken dialogues, I thought about doing something similar.
Some parts of Mapang-akit make use of footage from a documentary project you made with another filmmaker. Can you tell us more about it? How was the process of piecing the stories together?
At the Dox:Lab project of the Copenhagen Dox Fest, I was paired with a filmmaker from Iceland, who is also a musician. I had so much fun with the guy. He was game for anything. At first we had a vague idea of what we should do, but he had this black and gold robe and a black Kamatayan suit he brought. We started from that. We eventually went to Sagada and he enjoyed the place. It was all run and gun. We decided that we would make an official version of the film, which he would edit and submit to the fest. My goal in Mapang-akit is to make a completely different film using the remaining scraps of footage.
What piqued your interest in the Hudas Hudas Festival in Antique? When did you go there?
We went there last year during the holy week season. I find it very interesting that a community celebration has Judas as its centerpiece, instead of Jesus Christ.
How much of your filmmaking style has developed since Todo Todo Teros?
Frankly, I’ve grown to be more daring. I believe in pushing my craft more, not only in terms of content but also in terms of style. And it reflects on the dwindling number of people attending my screenings! Haha. Seriously, I think I make films mostly because of my predisposition to explore. I do not want to be boxed inside a specific set of content, composition, or storytelling technique. With this belief comes the uncertainty of what I will do next. Todo Todo Teros is a great starting point, but I think I have already moved on from that mold, and now I find myself at another place.
I’m a fan of your short films. Are you still making some of them?
Mapang-akit is one. I’ve also produced a number of short films using the Digital Harinezumi, a Japanese toy cam. I made another one recently using an old 35mm camera. Right now, I believe I’m more at ease with the rigors of making full-length features.
Tell us, will John Torres ever make a commercial movie?
Yes, I think so. My films will soon be commercial. But it might be better to ask the moviegoers if they’ll find time to watch my movies.
The legacy of Alexis and Nika lives on. What do you want to tell them?
Alexis, rap ka nga. Nika, will set aside one DVD.
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