Independencia. 2009. Philippines. Directed by Raya Martin. With Tetchie Agbayani, Sid Lucerto, Alessandra de Rossi. In Filipino; English subtitles. 77 min.
The struggle for independence was a hard-fought journey in the Philippines, with nearly four centuries of Spanish colonization (1521–1898) followed by an additional half century of American occupation (1898–1946). Set in the early 20th century, Independencia tells the story of a family living a life of seclusion in the forest after fleeing American forces. Here, life returns to the basics, and traditional Filipino folklore, myth, and witchcraft re-enter consciousness. Shot in 16mm monochrome on a set with painted backdrops, the film evokes the look of early Hollywood to conjure a statement of resistance. This audacious work became an instant classic when it premiered at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section, and 33-year-old director Raya Martin, known especially for his inventive, experimental work, is already among the most established Filipino filmmakers.