Remember coming-of-age/sci-fi film “Ani (The Harvest)”—a.k.a. the story of an orphaned boy and his malfunctioning robot embarking on a quest for magical grains to save his grandfather’s life?
Being the only sci-fi entry in Cinemalaya in 2019, it says a lot about the rarity and state of sci-fi films, not only at festival circuits but in Philippine cinema. “In a culture steeply rooted in the folkloric and the religious, the idea of locally produced sci-fi entertainment is quickly lost on both producers and moviegoers,” film critic Anton D. Umali says.
Read more: “This film is going to be painful,” says this Cinemalaya 2019 filmmaker
However, this shouldn’t be the case. The genre as a whole is an untapped goldmine of great stories waiting to be told. Something that a few brave and innovative filmmakers have come to realize over recent years.
We have yet to see the rise of Filipino sci-fi films but while we wait, here are some sci-fi flicks you can explore and enjoy.
“EDSA XXX” (2017) by Khavn de la Cruz
In the year 2030, the Philippines or rather Ek-Ek-Ek, will have its celebration of the EDSA Revolution’s 30th anniversary. It’s an absurdist sci-fi musical on the political circus that is our government. It’s a visually jarring experience that can rock your core or make you laugh or both.
“Waivers” (2016) by Gino Jose
Set in the distant future after an unfortunate nuclear explosion in Manila, mining companies hire survivors to explore the ruins and mine for radioactive materials. In the film, we follow a pair of those survivors, Amy and Janis, as they go about their day with humor and positivity despite the grim reality of their situation and the fact that their job is practically a death sentence.
Read more: 5 feminist films that subvert the male gaze
“Instalado” (2017) by Jason Paul Laxamana
The film is set in a not-so-distant future where people learn by installing knowledge. Through this process, bodies of information can be installed directly into people’s brains. But in the agricultural town of Porac, our struggling protagonist Victor cannot afford the sky-high cost of installation, which he believes is the key to escape his rural life. In his pursuit of knowledge and a less bleak future, Victor attempts to defy societal norms and change his fate.
“Alimuom” (2018) by Keith Sicat
In this dystopian future, Earth has become uninhabitable. The government took advantage of monopolizing agriculture by making farming illegal. Going against the government and other opposing forces, a family of Filipino agriculture specialists search for crops that can grow in harsh and barren environments. They aren’t simply growing food—they are bringing back life.
“Immanuel” (2011) by Gio Puyat
Set in a futuristic Philippines, air pollution has rendered breathable oxygen scarce. The movie follows our protagonists: Leo Sagaysay, a young father and husband who works at the Oxygen Factory, and his wife Rubi. The appearance of an ex-factory worker at their door sets off a chain of events that leads to the downfall of the Sagaysay family.
By Charles Gan
Still from Alimuom