THE GREAT CINEMA PARTY
Directed by Raya Martin
20 minutes into Raya Martin’s latest work THE GREAT CINEMA PARTY, fellow Filipino superstar director Lav Diaz spectrally appears on screen and jokily welcomes us to a party where Andrei Tarkovsky and Andre Bazin will be attending. Indeed, the legends of film are everywhere: on the dreamy ruin-scapes and in the determination to capture the passing of fleeting moments onto film – what Bazin called “change mummified.”
But there are others at the party too. Filipino soldiers who fought for freedom. Old movie idols etched on walls. An editor of Cinema Scope. You and me, perhaps, with our smart phones and our roving curiosity. And Raya Martin too, recently named one of the world’s 50 best directors under 50, and who, at a mere 28-years-old already has an oeuvre to be envied by filmmakers of any age.
THE GREAT CINEMA PARTY is another of Martin’s reimaginings of silent cinema to the pulse of a new slacker joy. It’s a joy haunted by a past only known via 8mm memories, through which a youthful sense of discovery and camaraderie emerges out of colonial shadows that continue to linger on the surfaces of buildings and objects. For Martin, there is something beautiful and conscionable about living with the past, being at peace, and drinking/dancing/swimming with it in the mysterious darkness.
In three black-and-white sequences – the first a silent, Eisensteinian montage of war footage, the second a breezy walk through ruins, and the third the titular party thrown at a community arts festival – Martin, without pretension and seemingly without effort, longingly crafts an ode to the landscape of cinephilia, and rewrites the rules of how to grieve, remember, and celebrate. –Brian Hu