Film development project supported by Cannes Festival Cinefondation Residence

A family drama set during the American occupation in the Philippines in the early 1900s that tackles the disappearances of the times.

Short synopsis:
In the early 20th century, at the beginning of American rule in the Philippines, a mother and son run off to the mountains for refuge. On a hunt, the son mysteriously stumbles upon a woman left wounded in the woods. He takes care of her despite the silent objection of his mother. The son develops a relationship with the woman, while the mother grows weak and ill. Eventually, the mother dies, and the woman gives birth soon after.

Years later, a family continues to live in isolation. One evening, the child goes missing in the woods, later to be found with a story of a man cloaked in light. Believing it is a sign of the savior nearing, the father with his son set out to the woods in search of an amulet that would save their lives.

As the monsoon rains threaten the landscape, all three find themselves in a battle for survival.

“Independencia” will be a "studio film". It will recreate photo studios in the early 20th century with painted backgrounds foregrounded by prop materials. The look follows American era sound films that are deliberately staged, shot dramatically with tracks, and marked by grand musical scoring. The intermission will be shot as newsreel, a documentary that will contrast with the whole narrative film.

The film is a tribute to the idea of “moving pictures”. The predominant use of a static camera combined with the conscious interaction of actors with their simulated exterior, or studio set, hopes to bring out the rare magic in discovering old pictures of the Philippines and its people. In determining and reconstructing cinematic history and historical cinema, I look at what is in existence. Other than photographic evidence, it is the feelings of people that binds this effort, a kind of energy that directs a rediscovering of the American colonization of the Philippines.

Director’s Intent:
I believe the American occupation in the Philippines revolves around disappearances. Unaccounted deaths occurred in the many villages where invading troops had settled in. More importantly, the mysterious disappearances of Filipinos, voluntarily and involuntarily, have affected many lives. This is the real disappearance of the times: a void of emotions and affection for the missing and people’s suspended feelings for their loved ones. In the larger picture, there is the absence of identity and true freedom.
Following another kind of struggle, a family moves closer to nature, just like in pre-colonial times. As the mountains offer them refuge from threatening human forces, they relearn the ways of their ancestors. The family regains their inner strength and faces nature as the most powerful force that threatens survival. Inevitably, the war moves closer to their lives, and the boy must choose what his life is for, and what must be done.
The film hopefully portrays an alternative resistance of the times, one that moves away from a history of armed struggle and delves deeper into the opposition of forces, a survival of human existence, and a liberation of the true Filipino identity.
About the Director
Raya Martin was born in 1984 in Manila, Philippines. He graduated from the University of the Philippines Film Institute in 2005 and worked as writer and researcher in local television, newspaper, radio and online magazines. His short film “The Visit” won the Ishmael Bernal Award for Young Cinema in Cinemanila International Film Festival, 2004, and his documentary, “The Island at the End of the World”, won best documentary at the .mov International Digital Film Festival 2005. His first feature film, A Short Film about the Indio Nacional (Or The Prolonged Sorrow of the Filipinos) won the Lino Micciche Award at Pesaro Film Festival, Italy in 2006. He is the first Filipino filmmaker to be accepted in the prestigious Cannes Festival Cinefondation Residence in Paris, France.
About the Producer
Arleen Cuevas, born in June 1980 in Manila, studied film and communications in the Philippines and Singapore. She currently works as an executive producer for Ignite Media, Inc., a post production house based in Makati, Philippines. She works closely with independent filmmaker, Raya Martin and co-produced his first feature film, A Short Film about the Indio Nacional (Or The Prolonged Sorrow of the Filipinos), co-financed by the Hubert Bals Film Fund. Arleen also co-produced the feature film, “The Amazing Truth about Queen Raquela”, shot in the Philippines, Iceland and France and directed by Iceland-based director, Olaf Johannesson, which is scheduled to premiere in August 2007
The Production Company:

Independencia Films, based in Manila Philippines, was born under the partnership of director, Raya Martin and producer, Arleen Cuevas when they met in Berlinale Talent Campus in Berlin Film Festival, 2005. Their first film feature, “A Short Film about the Indio Nacional”, co-financed by the Hubert Bals Film Fund, is garnering critical acclaim from international film festivals and won the Lino Micciche Award at the Pesaro Film Festival, Italy in 2006.

Independencia Films vision is to create and promote Filipino independent films for the world.