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PEP YEARENDER 2017: Filipino Movies You Shouldn't Have Missed in 2017

Seven Sundays (left), Kita Kita (upper right frame) and Baka Bukas are some of the notable Pinoy movies that you shouldn't have missed this 2017.

December is the busiest month for cinephiles. It's time to binge watch possible Golden Globe and Oscar nominated films, make a list of the most anticipated films of the upcoming year, and watch entries of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival.


For others, it's making a list of the best Filipino films of the year. If you're still on a curiosity voyage of discovering what films to watch, here are 15 notable Pinoy movies that you shouldn't have missed this 2017.

This list does not yet include entries of the 43rd edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival.

Here is the list of notable Filipino movies (arranged alphabetically):

Alipato: The Very Brief Life of an Ember
Baka Bukas
Balangiga: Howling Wilderness
Birdshot
Bliss
Changing Partners
Haunted: A Last Visit to the Red House
I'm Drunk, I Love You
Kiko Boksingero
Kita Kita
Neomanila
Respeto
Seven Sundays
Si Chedeng at si Apple
The Chanters


Alipato: The Very Brief Life of an Ember

Cast: Dido de la Paz, Bing Austria

Director: Khavn De La Cruz

Release date: 5 August 2017

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Khavn De La Cruz showcases his exciting filmmaking in this intriguing film. Alipato: The Very Brief Life of an Ember is a not a film for those with fragile hearts. It features a crazy storyline with crazy scenes from children holding guns and smoking cigarettes to grotesque violence. This film is mocking the truth in the most hellish way one can imagine. This movie keeps you thinking for days.


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Balangiga: Howling Wilderness

Cast: Pio Del Rio, Warren Tuaño, Justine Samson, Daniel Palisa

Director: Khavn De La Cruz

Release date: 19 October 2017

Winner of 4 major awards in the 2017 QCinema International Film Festival, Balangiga: Howling Wilderness also captures the heart and mind of viewers. This wartime drama is a poetic narration of the Balangiga massacre of 1901 during the Philippine-American war. The strong visuals were complemented by the strong performance of the lead child actor. We commend the director's passion for telling stories about Philippine history before it becomes forgotten.



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Baka Bukas

Cast: Jasmine Curtis, Louise de los Reyes

Director: Samantha Lee

Release date: 1 March 2017

Baka Bukas is part of the 2016 Cinema One Originals Film Festival but had its commercial run this year. This beautifully shot film is one of the most liberating movies on the big screen. It tackles a relatable story about a lesbian couple who started out as friends. Conflicts started to arise when one half of the couple chose not to come out in order to save her budding career as an actress. Jasmine Curtis Smith and Louise de los Reyes both deliver superb acting performances and are able to give justice to the roles that they are portraying. This film is definitely a must-see, regardless of one's gender preference.





Birdshot

Cast: John Arcilla, Arnold Reyes, Mary Joy Apostol, Ku Aquino

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Director: Mikhail Red

Release date: 16 August 2017

Birdshot is the Philippines’s submission to the Foreign Language Film category of Oscars 2018. Mikhail Red's sophomore film is about a father desperately trying to cover up the crime of his daughter Maya who accidentally killed an endangered Philippine eagle. Meanwhile, two police officers struggle to solve the mystery of a bus full of people that suddenly disappeared. Rapid cuts intensify the viewer’s desire to figure out who is the actual protagonist.



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Bliss

Cast: Iza Calzado, Ian Veneracion, TJ Trinidad, Michael De Mesa

Director: Jerrold Tarog

Release date: 10 May 2017

Scenes showing a female character masturbating, full frontal nudity, violence, drugs, and strong language are the reasons why Bliss was given the dreaded X rating during an initial review of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). Direk Jerrold creates a distinctive mark in this film that talks about sensuality, deception, and revenge.






Changing Partners

Cast: Agot Isidro, Jojit Lorenzo, Sandino Martin, Anna Luna

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Director: Dan Villegas

Release date: 13 November 2017

Based on the Palanca Award-winning play by Vincent de Jesus, Changing Partners is an entry to the 2017 Cinema One Originals. Changing Partners depicts couples with a fifteen-year age and their differences that give rise to problems after 8 years of being together. Relationship fails when trust fades. What really stands out for me (aside from the really excellent direction) is the too-brilliant for its own good script. Agot Isidro, Jojit Lorenzo, Sandino Martin, and Anna Luna deliver lines that would seem goofy if spoken by lesser performers. Agot Isidro especially dominated her scenes in a way that's both amusing and utterly menacing.






Haunted: A Last Visit to the Red House

Director: Phyllis Grae Grande

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Release date: 13 November 2017

This documentary is based on the horrors experienced by “comfort women” who were raped by Japanese military during World War II. The war hasn’t really ended for any of the survivors, and that’s the most horrifying thing about this documentary. Members of a group called “Malaya Lola” recount their harrowing experience with the Japanese soldiers. They are waging an undying and frustrating battle against their ghosts from the past. This film can become a beacon of peace so that there is no more war and no more suffering for women and children. I hope that this movie spreads like wildfire, so that everyone around the world can watch this docu.



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I'm Drunk, I Love You

Cast: Paulo Avelino, Maja Salvador

Director: Jaime Habac Jr.

Release date: 15 February 2017

Going to the beach and listening to cool music blend perfectly together in this film about love and friendship. Carson (Maja Salvador) and Dio (Paulo Avelino) have known each other and comfortable being together as best friends for the last seven years. Carson is secretly in love with Dio but ends up being friendzoned when she finally decided to admit her feelings. Being friendzoned is indeed a dark and scary place. It's where one's dream of love goes to die. It’s all fun and games until you realize just how difficult it is to get out of it.






Kiko Boksingero

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Cast: Noel Comia Jr., Yayo Aguila, Yul Servo

Director: Thop Nazareno

Release date: 5 August 2017

This Cinemalaya 2017 entry is a simple coming-of-age story about a boy, raised by his nanny, who has been longing for the love of his father. This film is very straightforward yet very successful in sending the message across. Viewers will empathize with the struggle of a kid who wants to become like his father that he never had. The kid's longing for love and attention from his father is also very painful to watch.


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Kita Kita

Cast: Alessandra de Rossi, Empoy Marquez

Director: Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo

Release date: 19 July 2017

Kita Kita is now the most popular Pinoy indie film, earning P320 million in the Philippine box-office when it was shown in more than 170 cinemas nationwide. Word of mouth played a big role in stirring the curiosity of viewers to watch this film and join the hype. The chemistry between Alessandra de Rossi and Empoy Marquez is so natural. The film's humor and wit is so natural. The cinematography offers stunning views of Sapporo, Japan.



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Neomanila

Cast: Eula Valdes, Rocky Salumbides, Timothy Castillo

Director: Mikhail Red

Release date: 19 October 2017

Mysterious deaths, secrets of the past, a doubtfully sane protagonist, and intrigues all come together in this story. People under adverse circumstances are pushed to the very brink of survival amidst societal breakdown. All of these mix up in an interesting and enigmatic movie, which leaves behind an odd aftertaste. But, it seems to be all movies of this genre (based on real events) have this feature.



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Respeto

Cast: Abra, Dido de la Paz, Kate Alejandrino

Director: Treb Monteras II

Release date: 5 August 2017

Respeto focuses on the craft of writing and performing rap verses while capturing the reality that there are young Filipinos living in the slums struggling to survive poverty. Abra did a really decent job for his first time acting. This is just one of those movies you have to see for yourself for its gritty yet poetic visuals.






Seven Sundays

Cast: Aga Muhlach, Dingdong Dantes, Enrique Gil, Cristine Reyes, Ronaldo Valdez

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Director: Cathy Garcia-Molina

Release date: 11 October 2017

After learning that he barely has two months to live because of terminal cancer, Manuel Atanacio wishes to have his four children to spend the last seven Sundays of his life together with him in their family home. Losing someone (or the thought of losing someone) is an indescribable feeling and this film accurately portrayed it in an honest and highly emotional way. Seven Sundays is a cinema masterpiece with authentic and mesmerizing performances and terrific arguments that will evoke powerful emotions among viewers.


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Si Chedeng at si Apple

Cast: Gloria Diaz, Elizabeth Oropesa

Directors: Fatrick Tabada and Rae Red

Release date: 13 November 2017

Si Chedeng at si Apple nimbly presents a funny and heartfelt story that could have easily been cloyingly sweet in the wrong hands. The film follows best friends Chedeng (Gloria Diaz) and Apple (Elizabeth Oropesa), dysfunctional in their own way. They travel to Cebu in search of Chedeng's ex-girlfriend. This film is confounding, but it succeeds in playing with our expectations of how road trips and retreats are supposed to work. Chedeng, a lesbian who comes out at the age of 66, may have found herself but part of that discovery was just how unequipped she was to deal with her situation in the end.



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The Chanters

Cast: Jally Nae Gabaliga, Romulo Caballero, Jean Aubrey Garin, Kara Francine Bela-Ong

Director: James Mayo

Release date: 19 October 2017

Despite the protagonist's battle against dementia, this remaining Hiligaynon tribe member continues to teach traditional chants to younger generations. It shows an underlying statement that the responsibility of preserving our culture should not be done only by one person. Preserving our culture should not suffer in moving towards advancement.



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These films are definitely worth rewatching and deserve to be seen by a wider audience. With the opening of stand-alone cinemas such as Cinema '76 Society (in San Juan), Black Maria (in Mandaluyong) and Cinema Centenario (in Quezon City), you might have a chance to catch these excellent films.


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Seven Sundays (left), Kita Kita (upper right frame) and Baka Bukas are some of the notable Pinoy movies that you shouldn't have missed this 2017.
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