by Rosy Mina
In this year’s online edition of the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP), there are 13 films in the PPP Premium Selection. The Premium films are titles that have never been released to audiences in the Philippines or only had a limited release in the country.
Those with PPP4 Premium Festival Passes will not only get to access these much-awaited films, they will also get to participate in special Talkback sessions with the filmmakers and actors involved in the Premium Selection films.
One of the most talked about PPP4 Premium Selection films is Glenn Barit's “Cleaners,” a coming-of-age anthology film on student cleaners from a Catholic high school in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan.
Barit’s first feature bagged the Best Film (Asian Next Wave Competition), Best Screenplay, and Audience Choice at the 2019 QCinema International Film Festival. It garnered eight Gawad Urian nominations, including for Best Screenplay, Best Direction, and Best Picture. Barit, as the film’s writer-director, also won the Best First Feature prize from the Young Critics Circle, Philippines.
After having its international premiere on October 21 in the A Window on Asian Cinema section of the 25th Busan International Film Festival in South Korea, “Cleaners” will have its online premiere in PPP4 on November 20, the beginning of the PPP Main Feature Film Showcase.
To know more about how to watch “Cleaners” and the rest of the PPP4 lineup, which has 170 titles composed of 90 full-length films and 80 shorts, visit the FDCP Channel platform (fdcpchannel.ph).
PPP4, which begins on October 31 and runs until December 13, offers various subscription options such as the Premium Festival Pass (PHP 599), Half Run Pass (PHP 299), Day Pass (PHP 99), and Free Pass. The Early Bird Rate of PHP 450 for the Premium Festival Pass is available until November 8. Discounts for students (30%) and senior citizens and persons with disabilities (20%) may be availed for the Half Run Pass and Premium Festival Pass.
Directed by Glenn Barit
PPP4 Premium Selection Section
This is not your typical high school coming-of-age story. For starters, “Cleaners” is a stop motion film that was made from photocopying each frame on paper, using around 34,560 sheets.
What is more, every sheet of paper was manually colored with highlighters to focus on the protagonists. Each protagonist has a corresponding highlighter color. It was a visual treat to see the neon colors on the clothing of the protagonists amid the grainy grayscale frames.
The year is 2008, and the film takes you back to the days when students had textbooks and photocopied readings instead of e-books. The local color from this regional cinema gem is strong, and it makes you feel right at home even if Tuguegarao isn’t your hometown.
The protagonists are the assigned cleaners of their class, and they are faced with personal issues that they have to deal with. The cleaners are pressured to be proper members of society. Should they conform, clean up their mess, and come clean as well?
“Gulu-gulo pala ng buhay,” uttered a hapless cleaner.
The cast is composed of first-time actors, yet their performances are so raw and endearing that they seem like familiar people in your life. The portrayals of Ianna Taguinod, Leomar Baloran, Julian Narag, Carlo Mejia, Gianne Emira Rivera, Allan Gannaban, Charise Mabbonag, and Andrei Marquez effectively make you want to understand where their characters are coming from, leading you to root for them in their journey to adulthood.
They are just regular students, some with petty problems while others have life-changing crises. While it is true that the youth need guidance, the elders must also remember to listen to what the youth have to say.
Their feelings must not be ignored just because they are young. They may be clueless or naive at times, but they can also be fearless and gutsy. They are capable of being dauntless in doing what they think and believe is right.
Amid the mess in school and in life, “Cleaners” brings to light the youth issues that are not given much attention. The use of highlighters most probably spotlights the ordeals that the protagonists are going through. Such trials of high school students, together with their feelings, thoughts, and decisions, must not be invalidated.
Photos courtesy of “Cleaners”
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