Directed and Written by Raya Martin

Indio Nacional
Directed and Written by Raya Martin

Projector issues- - -that's likely. But there is the way the image in that opening long walk home seems to corrode before your eyes, the way the noise picks out shapes of things that aren't even there, the way it feels less like postwork - - -that is, premeditated but artificial- - -and more the risk you put yourself through shooting on analog then blowing it up to see what happens- - -that is, premeditated but organic. And the way in which what does happen counts as foreshadowing. For how it similarly obsesses on the active degrading of our collective memory, on history as something mutable and suspect, but not with the same elegiac prettiness as Indio Nacional tapping into silent cinema's textures of otherness to find eerie new con/subtexts - - - 1896's hard-won independence as a kind of cultural neutering, for one- - - in our beloved revolutionary saga.

That one opens, too, with a man walking, not home, but down a cave. A returning to the womb, perhaps, also a descent into mystery. The mystery of our birth as a nation reflexively full-circling to our dying as a cultural entity and retold as ghost stories at bedtime so it gets feverish and hysteric with swaths of unease and swaths of whimsy and swaths of surreal imagery - - -the blessed virgin dogging a katipunero down a field , the sun rising from between a man's legs then giving him a wink, a plaster saint flirting with two women in church - - - where Autohystoria gets feverish and hysteric but only with unease and in more than mere swaths, it's nervy with it.

The death it gets under the skin of, after all, isn’t as abstract, as metaphoric, as philosophical. And is,in fact, bloody and viscous. Is, in fact, a murder- - -Andres and brother Procopio Bonifacio’s execution at the hands of Emilio Aguinaldo’s cohorts and the conspiracy to whitewash it, retold with microscopic agony and brutal immediacy as presentday salvage in real-time. Noble aims superseded by gleeful artifice means the pleasures of Indio are purer as mere cinephilic fetishism, nothing wrong with that. More nihilistic, more wounded, Autohystoria triumphs as surface, too, only with more seepage and tackle. Its subtext - - - that political homicide is in our blood - - - runs hardwired with marrow chill and black voltage, but its visceral jolt is the volatile that stays with you. Autohystoria * * * * * Indio Nacional * * * *


chard bolisay said...

huwaw. i wish i've seen autohystoria. the andres-procopio idea is really, really interesting to see in film. although it's a bit obvious that i didn't like indio nacional that much, i admire and love its first sequence, that one with bodjie pascua. the story, the repressed emotion, the weep, everything. and then it falters. haha. kasalanan ko lang siguro.

dodo dayao said...

I actually feel more or less the same way about Indio as you do, chard, though I liked it a bit more. I admired its artifice but couldn't engage emotionally - - least not as fully as I wanted to. The Bodjie Pascua sequence was brilliant to me ,too, more for its sense of foreboding. Reminds me of the day-for-night sequences in Monte Hellman's The Shooting, in terms of sheer otherworldliness. Autohystoria on the other hand, made me very uncomfortable and left me distressed. Always a good thing when a movie does that.