11 August 2014

DVD Review - Independencia (2009)

Drama,World Cinema
Second Run DVD
Rating: 15
DVD Release Date:
11th August 2014(UK)
Rama Martin
Sid Lucero, Alessandra de Rossi, Tetchie Agbayani
Buy:Independencia [DVD]

Filipino New Wave filmmaker Raya Martin explores the American occupation of the Philippines in his spellbinding 2009 film Independencia. Making use of the aesthetics and the artifice synonymous with the "golden age of Hollywood" (a period of time that just happens to coincide with the American occupation), Martin creates an exquisite jungle setting in which his story of survival can unfold. The film itself is deceptively simple, the first half depicting the displacement of a mother and son who flee to the rainforest at the onset of the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902, settling down in a cabin once occupied by Spanish colonists. The pair adapt to this life rather well but it is not long before their idyll is interrupted by the arrival of a young woman raped by American soldiers. The second half sees the film jump forward in time by about a decade where it follows the fate of the young woman's half-white child as he and his adoptive father try to survive a savage typhoon while stranded in the midst of the forest with no shelter. The two halves of the film split by a mock American newsreel that satirises the role of the colonists. And it is a critique of colonialism that is central to Independencia with Martin's apparent homage to classical Hollywood cinema pointing toward a cultural colonialism that has outstayed the occupation. Martin has said that the Philippines long history of occupation has created an "absense of identity" that still exists today. And it is with this search for an identity that his film is concerned. Martin's intentions with this trilogy (the first film being A Short Film About the Indio Nacional and the final installment of the trilogy still to come) is to put forward a "People's History of the Philippines" that will liberate the true Filipino identity. I am not sure if Independencia has succeeded in this respect but it has given voice to a long oppressed people, successfully critiquing the lasting impact of colonialism.


Shane James

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