Roxlee

Manila Scream Expanded
2017

20.2. 17:30 Eng. subtitles Arsenal 1
23.2. 13:30 Eng. subtitles Akademie der Künste

66 min. Tagalog.

Manila Scream Expanded combines three recent short films by Philippine underground filmmaker Roxlee, Manila Scream, Yours Trolley, and Slicing Art. The film and its maker and protagonist take us on an idiosyncratic journey through the streets of Manila. It starts with a man painting a picture of a screaming figure based on Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting “The Scream”. He then makes a screaming doll, which is subsequently found by a screaming man and woman roaming around the heavy traffic streets of the capitol city of the Philippines. The doll is discarded again and found by a group of children living near a bridge along the railroad tracks where trolleys – Yours Trolley – are the primary means of transportation. The man painting the scream rides the trolley while playing the harmonica, soon he is singing while Slicing Art. Manila Scream to Yours Trolley to Slicing Art.

Roxlee, born in 1950 in the Philippines, started as a cartoonist of Cesar Asar comic strips with his brother Monlee and began making films in 1983. Their 35mm movie Tito’s Wedding (1993) won major awards. Roxlee’s first full-length digital film is Green Rocking Chair (2008). He has had retrospectives of his works, and his films have been shown worldwide in biennials and film festivals.

1. MANILA SCREAM

MANILA SCREAM is a movie inspired by the painting “The Scream of Nature” by Edvard Munch. The artwork is expressionist, made at the end of the second industrial revolution, a time when rapid modernization forever changed the way of living and the impact it made on nature.
A man begins to recreate the painting “The Scream of Nature” by Edvard Munch. He then makes a mask resembling the character from the painting and puts it on a doll.
The doll ends up on a pile of trash. A silent screaming character, a man, picks it up and hands it to another screaming character, a woman.
The two characters will be seen at different places around the metropolis. Their roles will be the medium by which to re-expose the living conditions of the urban poor of Manila, the sector greatly affected by the degradation of the natural environment within our cities.
Primarily, the project is an expression of protestation, the characters’ muted screams of agony as an act of protest. The film intends to reawaken our awareness, to evoke concern for the ceaseless destruction of nature in our pursuit of economic wealth. Our complete disregard for nature is a kind of death drive, and if not urgently acted upon would lead to our doom.
The doll ends up in the hands of three girls living along the Pasig River. They bring it home and play with it as they scream.
The dolls fate, ending up as the children’s plaything, suggests the ever continuing struggle and the delegation of responsibilities (the protection and preservation of our natural environment) to all succeeding generations. The film hopes.
 
2. YOURS TROLLEY

The segment begins with a man (Jun Licardo), a rail trolley* pusher, giving a tour and talk on his family’s living conditions along Manila’s old railway. They are relocatees, but a government housing project constructed in a remote provincial town means the end of their livelihood. So they returned to Manila, the place where they were born and learned how to subsist. Shots of the people, their belongings, pets, their crude and temporary shelters built under a water pipeline will be shown. The anxiety of living illegally on government owned property will be revealed through Jun’s interview.
Eljohn is in one of his usual on-call duties. He is primarily a traveling masseur, providing massage wherever he can. He is also a musician, playing his ukulele and singing in between duties to relieve himself of exhaustion and at the same time to entertain passersby. He travels alone and rides the jeepney, Philippines’ most popular means of transportation, then arrives at a house located along the railway. And after the job he tries to push one of the trolleys. He snacks on sliced pineapple bought from a peddler before heading home.
Roque Lee meets with Mang Jaime, one of the oldest trolley pushers in Manila. Mang Jaime is seen doing repairs on his trolley. He covers the Santa Mesa district, a total of three-kilometer stretch, where a single trip can take between ten to fifteen minutes. Roque Lee rides Mang Jaime’s trolley then starts to play a tune with his harmonica. They stop for a while and buy taho** from a peddler then continue with their round trip.
* A rail trolley is an illegal means of transportation in the Philippines used mostly by the poor.
 ** Taho is a Philippine snack food made of tofu, arnibal (sweetener), and sago (tapioca pearl). Its origin can be traced back to the Chinese douhua.

3. SLICING ART

In one of the visual arts exhibits of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Roque Lee inserts a coin into a jukebox. Music blares out and Roque Lee begins to dance around the gallery. He is then seen on the side of a road leading to the art collector’s house. John Lloyd Cruz is a famous Philippine actor and also an avid collector of art. He tours Roque Lee around his house, where countless paintings, sculptures, and installation art are on display.
Roque Lee arrives at a farm owned by the family of artist Robert Langenegger. He is shown around the farm, where all crops are organically grown. Robert also shows him his tattoos, telling each of its significance and meaning. While taking a rest, Roque Lee sees a cluster of mushrooms under a bench. He eats one of them then falls asleep. Robert approaches Roque while sleeping and takes a look at his sketchbook. Robert will narrate a story drawn and written by Roque while each page of the sketchbook is shown. They end the day with beer and music sitting around a campfire.
Roque is now at home with Bob Macabenta. Roque shows Bob a cacao plant given by Robert as a souvenir. They start to play a song entitled “Si Nanay, Si Tatay,” a Bicol folksong, as some of the paintings of Romeo Lee, a renowned artist and brother of Roque, are shown.

(Roxlee)

Production Roxlee. Production company Cinema Regla (Manila, Philippines). Written and directed by Roxlee. Director of photography Blair Camilo. Editing Blair Camilo. Music Roxlee. Sound design Bob Macabenta. Sound Bob Macabenta. Production design Lot Arboleda. With Kristine Kintana (Screaming Woman), Bob Macabenta (Screaming Man), Jun Licardo (Trolley Pusher), Eljohn Rivero (Blind Man), Jaime (Trolley Pusher), John Lloyd Cruz (Art Collector), Robert Langenegger (Artist and farmer), Roque Lee (Artist and farmer).

Films

1984: The Great Smoke. 1985: ABCD (5 min.). 1986: How to Perform Tronong Puti. 1987: Juan Gapang (7 min.). 1994: Tito's Wedding. 2008: Green Rocking Chair (61 min.). 2017: Manila Scream Expanded.

Photo: © Roxlee