There’s a lot to say about this year’s MMFF. But first, let me thank this film festival for offering me free movie passes to all eight quality films. I’m so lucky to witness such good flicks. I’m glad that this time, MMFF focused on independent films, which are becoming underrated because obviously, they have higher class than the mainstream ones. If only all Filipino films are like this, then the Philippine cinema won’t be dead or almost dead. I don’t know. I just mean that with these indie films, we have something we can proudly promote as ours because they deserve an international prominence as they level the foreign movies. It’s a good thing that MMFF is with us in promoting the Philippine cinema by presenting the best films of the country. No entry is a trash unlike before. However, if you have no choice and you are only able to watch one MMFF entry, I suggest that you prioritize the one that won’t waste your ticket and that is Seklusyon, for sure.
For everyone’s information, seklusyon is the Filipino term for seclusion, which is a week-long ritual done by sending the deacons to a house haunted by their personal demons to test their faith in God. In the movie, the lead character, Miguel, played by the newcomer Ronnie Alonte, joined the secluded house. On the other hand, the movie shows the story of a young miraculous healer, Anghela Sta. Ana, played by Rhed Bustamante, who was assisted by Sister Cecilia, played by Phoebe Walker. They make everyone believe that Anghela is God’s messenger on land, even the bishop, who allowed Anghela and Sister Cecilia to stay inside the said secluded house.
At first, we thought that Sister Cecilia was the antagonist of the story because of her disturbing gestures and dark aura and that Anghela is in danger under her care. A priest, named Padre Ricardo, had doubts about her, too, so he investigated the nun only to find out that Anghela was a false prophet and that almost every resident in town is praising this child, who in reality, is a devil incarnate. What a twist! I really thought that it was Sister Cecilia! And I had no hints that the plot will specifically be about false prophecies! I admire how the movie hides and smoothly unfolds this revelation. I totally didn’t see that coming.
Anyway, this explains why Anghela is trying her best to deal with the deacons having seclusion. Well, everybody was tempted except Miguel, who already sensed a bad feeling about the child. This impression was confirmed when he witness Padre Ricardo confronting Anghela. At this point, I was holding my hands together tightly due to the intense scenes. I was screaming on my mind. I want Miguel to escape and run away! That was his plan, too, but he’ll only do that after he killed the devil. And yes, he succeeded. However, it was late. The evil has pervaded, which mirrors the reality.
Hands down to the plot! It built questions in my mind that were answered eventually. However, there’s one more question that wasn’t unanswered. Where in the world did the makers of Seklusyon obtain such topic? Only people with huge imagination can think about this. Aside from the brilliant story line, it’s evident that the creators also displayed their effort on the production design. You don’t know how hard it is to make things not just antique, but consistently antique. But most of all, I was amazed on their cinematography. Imagine! No special effects was used in the film. Wow! Just wow! That’s Erik Matti’s direction, ladies and gentlemen!
Nonetheless, my admiration doesn’t end there because the characters also earned it, especially Rhed Bustamante. At such a young age, she has carried out this complicated character extraordinarily. Her transformation from being a God’s messenger to a demonic figure was so smoothly and perfectly executed. There’s a long way of fame waiting for this child. For Ronnie Alonte, well, he did pretty good but I guess, his charms doesn’t fit the character. His aura is more of a cocky type of character. On the other hand, I was convinced to Phoebe Walker’s acting. I’m sorry if I keep on telling this but I really thought that she was the antagonist. With your eyes scattering and whispers, you got me, Phoebe!
If you think that this six-paragraph review isn’t enough proof that Seklusyon dominates this year’s MMFF, then you must look at its awards – Best Cinematography Award, Best Screenplay Award, Best Production Design Award, Best Sound Design Award, Best Original Theme Song, Best Director award for Erik Matti, Best Supporting Actress award for Phoebe Walker and Special Jury Price for Rhed Bustamante.
Kudos to Seklusyon family! Thanks for sharing your talent.