In a time when everything seems to be out of our control and is binded with limitations, the Filipino short film 1987: Kumbida, one of the finalists in Gawad Sining Film Festival 2020, proves that there is nothing that can stop Filipino youth from creating art that serves and represents every single one of us.
Like the title portrays—kumbida meaning “invite”— this heartwarming film shows us what it’s like to hide who you are and who you love during the late '80s. The story circles around Gani, an achiever who dreams of becoming a well-known journalist, and Joaquin, an introverted boy who meets Gani at a friends’ party. Amid the long and sweet night, the pair cause each other to unravel their true selves through music and dancing.
Shot in Isabela, young filmmaker and director Aireen Remoto wanted to accurately represent the LGBTQ+ community—from the inspiration of the story itself, to the message, to the choice of music and casting—in hopes of the film becoming a strong voice for the SOGIE Equality Bill, an on-going societal debate. Despite the recent Typhoon Ulysses that hit them during the shoot, she—along with the rest of the production team—still pushed through with the making of the film.
Watch the trailer below!
Read up below as Aireen and her crew tell us about how this fundamentally touching short film came to life, and more! Take a look at the beautiful film stills while you're at it!
Where did your inspiration for the story come from?
“It started from the realization na pinagkakakitaan yung BL series ngayon sa Philippines, and the fact na straight and good-looking dapat ang mga gumaganap na cast. There was this consideration na hopefully part ng LGBTQ+ ang dapat na gaganap [sa film namin].”
“Honestly, nahirapan ako magsulat kasi it’s beyond my genre. Romance yung lagi kong iniiwasang isulat kasi mas naniniwala ako sa konsepto ng pagtanggap at pananatili kesa sa konsepto ng pagmamahal. At doon din nanggaling yung idea at inspiration [for the film] na galing sa production-mate namin na si Julius. Naalala ko yung conversation namin before tungkol sa acceptance.”
Why was it important for you to write this story?
“It is significant to write the story of Joaquin and Gani as it conveys their struggles, and the circumstances that they have to conquer because of simply being part of the LGBTQ+ community. Writing a story that will enlighten Filipinos and break gender stereotyping will be beneficial not only to the third-sex community, but to all [people]. It is indeed a privilege to transform screenplays into reality in a form of art. [It is for] the elimination of discrimination, equal protection for all people, and the longing for acceptance that make the #YesToSOGIEBill important.”
Was SOGIE Equality Bill a huge factor in making the film?
“As seen from any sector, acceptance to any gender is progressing, but in order to be at the stage where no one will be judged for who they are and have full acceptance within society, the film has to expose gender-based discrimination towards the justifiability of everyone’s dream and goals. Through this film, we will enlighten audiences [so they may understand] what the SOGIE Bill could bring us.
Since you did shoot this during a pandemic and in the middle of Typhoon Ulysses, what was your drive to keep on going?
“Honestly, during the shoot nung na-stuck kami habang sumasalubong sa Bagyong Ulysses, tinanong ko ang sarili ko kung bakit ba pinupush pa naming tapusin. Pero as I observed the whole production, eager sila to finish—pinupush nila kahit malakas at tuloy-tuloy yung ulan, [nagbibigay sila ng] continuous suggestions na pwedeng kapalit na mga scenes. And from there, nasabi ko na napakahalaga talaga ang may puso sa ginagawa at ang may pinaglalaban. Literal na naming ginawa ang pagsulong para mabigyan ng pagkakataong maisabuhay ang gusto naming pelikula para sa audience.”
What do you want for the audience to take away from your film?
“This film is a message to all of us, that human identity is diverse and often fluid, regardless of what rigid rules society tries to impose. Taking a glimpse on the growing love of two different people that hold back their emerging true love for themselves and for each other will bring the audience to different realizations as to what issues need to be resolved and upheld. Instead of accusing others of being wrong or lying about who they are, we should all strive to be kinder and accept that sometimes, traditional is not always right. It is a new dimension where everyone accepts and understands that love is not bounded by gender or anything [else]. We are all Gani and Joaquin in our own little ways as we always want to be heard, loved, and accepted.”
Any advice to fellow young and aspiring Filipino filmmakers who want to keep creating during this hard, uncertain time?
“Mahirap sagutin 'to kasi pati ako nahirapan akong mag-grasp ng inspiration during this time sa dami ng pangyayari. Mahirap mag-create sa panahon ngayon, pero matuto tayong lumubog sa realidad—mag-explore at huwag limitahan ang sarili sa pag-alam ng mga kwento galing man sa pag-aaral o sa ibang tao. Matuto tayong maging diverse sa pagkatuto at sa paglikha dahil isang malaking responsibilidad ang pagkukwento.”
What is the future of the film looking like?
“Hangga’t may oppressed, hindi naman kami titigil sa paglikha ng aming mga panawagan. Sa ngayon, masaya na kami na malayo ang nararating ng aming pelikula. Maaaring tumungo pa ito kung saan dahil ang 1987: Kumbida ay isang paglaban. At hangga’t hindi tayo lubos na nakakalaya, hindi kami titigil sa paglikha.”
“The film is [currently] being recognised across the country, which is good because we wanted to spread awareness on our campaigns and advocacies. Being one of the finalists in the Gawad Sining Short Film Festival 2020, it is a huge break for us to showcase our talent and be that voice to those people who are still afraid of revealing themselves.”
You can watch the film on Gawad Sining’s YouTube channel until December 16, 2020! Check out the full movie below!
*You’re invited! Preview is celebrating its 25th year with an online party and we would love it if you, our dear reader, can join us! Register and save the date on December 5, 2020, for the Preview @ 25 House Party. See you!