Teachers are dubbed modern-day heroes for their unwavering dedication to educating future generations. But what happens when they’re unexpectedly tasked to do something beyond their job description?
Picture this: Two power-hungry (but abysmally questionable) individuals are vying for mayorship in a small town. One is a land-grabbing tycoon (sounds familiar…) and the other is a former sexy male actor. Come election time, a teacher gets tangled in the middle of a violence-driven political circus. She suddenly has to protect the ballot box that holds the fate of her town, even if it means escaping into the wilderness.
How far would she go to safeguard the very foundation of democracy? Can she (alongside the community) outwit the people who want to sabotage the election?
The plot of Cinemalaya 2024 finalist Kip Oebanda’s ‘Balota’
A land-grabbing tycoon and a former sexy male actor are in a tight race for mayor in a small town. When violence erupts, Emmy, a teacher, runs into the wilderness with a ballot box, the last copy of the election result. pic.twitter.com/ceBd4hqemz
— Philippine TV & Film Updates (@phtvandfilmupd) August 21, 2023
Only director Kip Oebanda (“Bar Boys,” “Liway”) has the answers, because this is precisely the kind of absurd he’s cooking up for his new film “Balota.” It’s an official entry to the Cinemalaya 2024—marking Kip’s grand return to the film festival circuit after six years (and to the director’s chair after five, the last one being “Abandoned” in 2019).
To date, there are no details about the actor lineup yet, but one quick scroll through social media will tell you who the general public wants. (Spoiler: It’s President Nadine Lustre.)
Now, if you think “Balota’s” premise screams “regular election season in the Philippines,” you might be onto something because that’s where it’s roughly based on.
“Yes, the election in this country is absurd. That’s probably an accepted fact across the political spectrum. Democracy is heavy. It is one big joke we must take seriously. It’s ripe for satire because it is broken,” wrote Kip in an Instagram post. “But it isn’t the only way to make society better. Tawanan natin pero baguhin rin natin. (Let’s laugh at it, but change it as well.)”
The director also revealed that the previous national election sent him on a “downward spiral of clinical depression” he hasn’t recovered from: “I guess anyone who has seen my previous film will get a fair idea why. I was kept alive by the good humor of a few people.”
So, if you have yet to watch “Liway” and want to know what he meant, take this as your sign to do so. It’s available for free streaming anyway.
Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival has always been home to some of the most daring and socially provocative films in Philippine cinema, and its 2024 edition is set to continue the tradition.
From a documentary on a missing activist to a film that puts spotlight on a person diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, here are the other works to watch out for (besides “Balota”): JL Burgos’ “Alipato,” Kat Sumagaysay and Richard Salvadico’s “Ang Tumandok,” Christopher Gozum’s “Aripuen,” BC Amparado’s “Gulay Lang Manong,” Joshua Caesar Medroso’s “Kantil,” Jaime Pacena II’s “Kono Basho,” Jonathan Jurilla’s “Love Child,” Sarge Lacuesta’s “The Errand,” and Julius Lumiqued’s “The Wedding Dance.”
Photo from “Balota” official poster