Director Rafael Manuel on „Filipiñana“ and the short form / interview

Rafael Manuel was born in Manila, the Philippines in 1990. He is a director, screenwriter, producer and editor. He studied philosophy and visual communication at the Ateneo de Manila University before taking up a master in filmmaking at the London Film School. He has also worked in advertising as a copywriter for Saatchi & Saatchi and as a creative director at TBWA.

What was your starting point for this film?

I’ve always viewed golf as a game of inaction – where the winner is the person who has taken the least amount of strokes. This inaction is heightened even more in South-East Asia, where you are driven around the course in golf carts, where caddies carry your bags and hand you your clubs, and tee-girls tee-up your golf balls in the driving range.

Filipiñana is an exploration of inaction and the role that inaction plays in the perpetuation of objective violence; a structural violence without any clear perpetrator or victim, a violence devoid of any obviously violent act, a violence that has been normalised and gentrified.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

One of my favourite moments of the film is the tableau with the child-golfer and his mother – played by my sister and her son. This particular moment is dear to me because of the candidness of my nephew’s action – I knew that I wouldn’t really be able to direct him, as his autonomy is indomitable (as you can see from his resistance to his mother’s instructions), but I also knew that there would be no need to direct him as any action he’d produce would be honest and authentic. Capturing this moment then became an exercise of an entire film set reacting to and respecting the incorruptible autonomy of a 4-year-old child and just hoping that he would stay within the frame.

What do you like about the short form?

I think because the industry hasn’t found a way to commercially exploit the short form for huge profit yet, it remains a form wherein filmmakers still have substantial autonomy and this is of the utmost importance to me. So while currently developing the feature-length version of Filipiñana, I’m also developing several shorts set in the Philippines and the UK (where I am now based). It’s important to me that I continue developing shorts in parallel with my long-form projects so that I remain informed by my own autonomy before any external pressures from market forces.


photo ©Dorothea Tuch

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