CineEuropa 13 '10 Day 3 - Movie Buddies

September 14, 2010 (Tuesday)

Today was one of the highlights of the movie marathon. First, I discovered that Shangrila mall was still closed before 11 a.m. While waiting, I saw some same people whom I observed while in line the day before and there was something inside of me that nudged to get to know them better, make new friends and make my movie experience more memorable and authentic. One smile was all it took for Tito Cholo to respond. He was the same old man yesterday, only now I got to see him brighten up with his smile in addition to his usual serious and silent disposition while waiting for the mall doors to open. I hadn't thought much about it as I joined the crowd flow into the mall after the National Anthem was played. As I was about to go out of the elevator though, I felt a gentle push forward and began to see people running towards the ticket booth. It was Tito Cholo who urged me to alight from the elevators and make a run for it too. He was shouting "First Ten! First Ten!" I followed suit although he did slow down for me while my brain was still booting up with what just happened. I managed to get in the line and he started counting to ten and saying that we had made it. I was the ninth and he was the tenth. He said he was number eleven yesterday. I probably still had that confused expression in my face. The lady in front of me was also cheerfully explaining the matter to me and their different strategies like waiting at the 5th floor MRT entrance as a man suddenly appeared for his reserved spot in front of us. There was a prize for the first ten! It finally registered. The line started moving and I was curious with the "prize". I thought it was a corporate giveaway from Shangrila so I still didn't see the point of running to get. My eyes lit up when I saw it. It was a limited edition keychain from CineEuropa 13


I wondered why the ticket lady did not give one to him. Guilt set in next, Tito Cholo became number eleven again because I took his place. I looked at him and he seemed to know it already. The lady in front of us cheerfully gave him the keychain, explaining she had one already. His face lit up again and I felt even guiltier.

I was among the first in line outside the theater since there was nowhere to go. There, I heard the animated stories of more old-timers, talking about other festivals, the previous films, their seating preferences and just about everything else. Many of them had watched CineEuropa for 13 years from the time it started. One man was talking excitedly about a whole film shot only in an elevator. I was imagining how hard and creative it was to develop a whole storyline in an elevator. Another man talked about this man who was telling the story. He said he used to be quiet and all but he has improved in 13 years. I laughed at that thought. They probably did not communicate outside of the film festival season and they lived separate lives but having these once-a-year meetings gave them an opportunity to see each other again. They said that you have to do watch films and do these kinds of stuff especially when you're old like them so that your brain does not just wither away. Time quickly passed by merrily with more stories. The doors were opened ten minutes before the show.

My sixth film was about a black and white movie reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin films. The attempts of a group of common thieves appear comedic as they try to help another thief escape prison time by  looking for a substitute who will take his place for a fee. The substitute not only failed to convince the authorities that he was the real thief, he also tricked the thief to spill out the details of the real reason why he wants to get out of prison and keeps his substitute fee for himself - he has a job that will earn him millions. The substitute was forced to leak out the plan or else the other thieves would ask him for the substitute fee back. The job was to break a safe of a pawnshop through a thin wall located in the next empty apartment. There was a grand plan to break in until they discover that the apartment was occupied by two old maids. Another plan was formed wherein they try to woo the fair maid who services the two ladies. This movie was about failure upon failure of a group of people who commonly steal and do random stuff to get money, even nonchalantly getting paid to replace a man in prison. It gets humorous as they use huge paraphernalia to break a wall that will take as long as three hours. In the end, they break the wrong wall and eat food left for the old ladies and what's in the fridge instead. These everyday thieves left accomplishing nothing, left with an alarm clock and almost did not make it even with that. The characters exist and lurk in our society but are unknown to us until now. They are the "usual unknown persons" whose names you won't even remember by the end of the movie. 

Movie Title: I Soliti Ignoti (Persons Unknown) 1958

It was a different setting again by the seventh film. This movie was about the voyage of three young boys aboard a Captain Bontekoe's ship bound for the East Indies. They managed to escape the dangers awaiting the masters of the seas - seasickness, storms, getting along with their mates, longing for their families, epidemics, unknown ships, mistakes and dealing with grief and death. Finally, there was the shipwreck that brought their struggle on land inhabited by natives. Greed set in and the three boys together with the surviving crew fought for their lives and with each other. They made it back to the seas and to a safer dock where they are reunited with their beloved and respected leader and the journey continues. The film reminded me of Pirates of the Carribean but this one was more realistic and believable. Even during those times, the ships looked as majestic from the outside. Inside were the tales of mighty men who braved the oceans to earn a living. Some like Hajo, the main character in the movie, believed he was born to be one.
Flag of Netherlands image courtesy of 4 International Flags
Movie Title: De Scheepsjongens Van Bontekoe (Storm Bound) 2007

The eighth film explores the world of organized crime and what drives you to reach out for your coins when you see a beggar in the streets. Sympathy can be a powerful tool too and it is a business that earns fast cash. Here a story was weaved about a teacher who aspires to be a writer to earn fame and fortune. He soon exchanged this after a stranger told him to go to an expert who can help him earn money faster. Soon, he found himself participating in a modus to use sympathy to pay for food in a restaurant. During weekdays while "working", he was poor in their make-believe story in the restaurant but on weekends, he was rich with all his earnings swindling people. In the end, he couldn't get out even if he discovered that everything was planned from the moment he made contact with that stranger. He was being groomed for a bigger plan - to raise their act to a higher level and for the foundation to extort more money than what he was earning in the start. It made me think that people might think differently about giving money when you see beggars in the streets after watching. As was said in the film, the more moving the story, the more sympathizers will believe. People with money have the opportunity to give something back and appease their feelings as a philanthropist and you will have your opportunity to earn fast cash. To be successful in getting that money, you have to have a good story in order to tap people's emotional side.
Flag of Romania image courtesy of 4 International Flags
Movie Title: Philantropique (Philantrophy) 2002

The ninth film was about Joan the Mad, Queen of Castile, and her love for her husband Archduke Felipe. Their marriage was for political alliance but passion and desire developed and made her happy to be his wife and bear him lots of children. Her eccentricities such as breast-feeding were branded as crazy and intensified as she discovers her husband's infidelity. Succeeding deaths in her family made her the only monarch who will govern Castile by birthright. Still, she put her mad love for her husband above everything else when they returned to their homeland. He continued to challenge her through his womanizing, went on to convene the court and even tried to dethrone her on basis that she is mentally unable to rule. Love has made her into a woman and her ways of showing that love seemed mad in the olden times of Medieval Europe.
Flag of Spain image courtesy of 4 International Flags
Movie Title: Juana La Loca (Mad Love) 2001

From this point on, I had a movie buddy who was with me until the end of my marathon. We talked about everything under the sun, even our life stories, as we shared lunches and dinners. My movie marathon would be incomplete and different if I had not met him. Waiting in line for hours had become bearable.

Read more about CineEuropa:

CineEuropa - Europe Through My Eyes
CineEuropa - Getting the Hang of a Movie Marathon
CineEuropa - Movie Buddies
CineEuropa - More Stories
CineEuropa - The Last Hurrah