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CAVITE (NR) (2005)

Truly Indie

Official Site

Directors: Ian Gamazon and Neill Dela Llana

Producers: Neill Dela Llana, Ian Gamazon, Quynn Ton

Written by: Ian Gamazon and Neill Dela Llana

Cast: Ian Gamazon, Dominique Gonzalez

Rating:


This film about a Filipino-American’s deadly encounter with Islamic terrorism comes to us from the Truly Indie distributor. And indeed, the film lives up to its studio’s boast, as it’s quite clear that no money was spent on the making of this film. This is about as bare-bones a film as you’re likely to see anywhere outside of a film festival. A camera, a cell phone, and a plane ticket to the Philippines. That’s about it.

Through some rather clumsy exposition-providing phone conversations (“What do you mean you’re breaking up with me?”) we learn that Adam has come back to the Philippines to attend his father’s funeral. Almost as soon as he steps off the plane, he’s confronted with the news that terrorists have kidnapped his mother and sister. Forced to submit to the terrorists’ demands, Adam is led around the city with only a cell phone as a guide. Though the terrorist commanding him is an Islamic fundamentalist from Abu Sayef, he’s clearly taken a few classes at the Hollywood school of villainous taunting (albeit in Tagalog). He tells Adam that his father betrayed the Muslims of the Philippines and that he has to pay off his family’s debt. Adam is taken on a whirlwind tour of Cavite’s slums where he learns that, to save his family, he must pick up the drop from a ransom and deliver a bomb to a Catholic church.

Cavite is basically a one man show, and, even though it only runs 80 minutes, it feels strained. Ian Gamazon, who plays Adam (and co-directed and wrote film), is not a very strong actor, and his character lacks definition. The film attempts to engage with the politics of the region, but, like a Hollywood thriller, it does so only superficially, through a dull exchange of clichés. And even its shaky cinema verite feels borrowed from the mainstream thrillers. Overall it comes off as a very amateurish effort, fine for the classroom or a student film festival, but ridiculous for the theater. There has been a lot of talk about a digital revolution in film that will “democratize” the medium, and while there maybe is something to this, Cavite is a lesson in the limits of DIY filmmaking and serves as a reminder that “truly indie” filmmakers need to avoid aping studio thrillers and give us truly unique visions instead.

—Edward Rholes

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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