This is not an interview with Khavn - SunStar

This is not an interview with Khavn

By Tiny Diapana
Photos: Ernest Diño


IT’S only right that the recent BINISAYA film festival brought with it screenings of Khavn de la Cruz’s electrifying Alipato: The Very Brief Life of an Ember. Waving the banner of the undying resilience of the Cebuano filmmaker’s spirit, the film festival shares the same core of brass and grit as de la Cruz’s dystopian squatter punk film.

Attending a surprise screening of his 2016 crime drama during the FDCP: The Binisaya Film Festival After Party at Baguio Craft Brewery back last September 30, Sunstar Weekend got to chat a little with the bold and uncompromising filmmaker, talking about Alipato and the necessity of the plucky do-it-yourself spirit in cinema and art.

Khavn de la Cruz

Alipato was a powerful film that was well-received during its screening at the opening of this year’s BINISAYA film festival. Who was the film meant for?

It was meant for myself. I mean, laging pinagiging isyu yan na gusto kong gumawa ng pelikula to please this market or this audience or even this person. Kung napasiyahan ang sarili mo, hopefully may iba ring masiyahan na may connection sa yo, or medjo kapareho mo, tapos doon ka na lang magfocus. Medjo secondary na lang ang iba.

So Alipato is part of your journey as a person?

Ah yes, exactly. Although at the same time it’s a continuation of Mondo Manila. I made a series of films with the same milieu, so Alipato is kind of a sequel to Mondo Manila, though the characters don’t meet, they share the same universe.

At what point are you now in your journey as a person and as an artist?

You’re always in limbo. May mga sandaling malinaw ang lahat, perpekto, na bigla rin namang mauusog, maalog, balik sa dating gawi, agos ng buhay, rumaragasang ilog.

The moment everything is in their right place is the moment you’re inside the coffin, burning better than the sun.

What’s it like being there? It’s tragicomic.

What’s this predilection towards grit and grime? What’s driving you to make films that put the spotlight on the Philippine urban underbelly?

Khavn de la Cruz

Dahil napapalibutan ako araw-araw nito. hindi sa hinahanap-hanap ko ito.

Sa Pilipinas nakabalandra / nakabulatlat sa mukha mo ang underbelly. Mapalitan nga ang pangalan: overbelly.

We heard that Ang Maikling Buhay ng Alipato was banned for a while because of its jolting depictions of the slums and its graphic sex scenes. How do you deal with this kind of censorship in Philippine media?

They wanted to remove the preggy porn scene. Huwag na lang. It’s like removing a limb / body part / internal organ, then expecting the human/animal to still function perfectly.

How do I deal with them? As much as possible, I don’t. Pag-iwas sa taeng may aids.

Matagal nang usapin ito. Pag walang magawa ang mga eskwelahan / panel / tv show etc sa Pilipinas, censorship ang paksa. Bottomline: mtrcb should be abolished. Ang nakikinabang lang dito ay ang mga bulsang nababayaran, a public entity operating as a private business.

Did you run into any trouble for having child actors and actresses playing out some pretty contentious acts in Alipato?

Di naman, okay naman sa mga bata na nakuha namin. Isa naman talaga yung legitimate child actor, yung nag-portray kay Bossing, tapos may papers naman din siya with DOLE, as should every child actor.

Pero medjo nahirapan kami sa paghanap ng mga actors namin. May mayabang na casting director na lumapit sa akin, sabi na tulungan daw niya ako maghanap ng cast ko para sa Alipato. Pero nung nakita niya yung requirements, back out agad, “Imposible ka naman.”

Kasi, most Filipino casting directors want to give you the usual pretty faces. Gusto ko ng iba, yung totoo. Gusto kung maghanap ng totoong batang kalye, totoong unano, totoong naputulan ng binti. Kami nalang ang naghanap.

How valuable is DIY? How much of Ang Maikling Buhay ng Alipato was DIY?

DIY is essential. It is the object/subject. Do is action, kung walang action, walang nilaga.

Yourself is yourself, ang sentro ng unos, ang mata ng bagyo.

Alipato is 100% DIY. Shot in four days before Christmas. Pwede ring DIO, do it ourselves.

A lot of people enjoyed watching Alipato when it was screened during this year’s BINISAYA. What are your thoughts on the growing film scene and market here in Cebu? What are your thoughts on the BINISAYA film fest?

Growing is good. Developing. Nawa’y lahat ng kapalpakan at kasalanan ng pamemelikula sa Maynila at sa Hollywood ay maiwasan at maigpawan ng Cebu film people. If you build it, they will come. The future is tense. It’s about time, manila is not the center of the Philippines. Decentralize.

Do you have any projects that you’re working on right now? What kind of projects would you like to work on in the near future?

Post-production ng two films: “Bamboo Dogs” and “Balangiga: Howling Massacre.” “Balangiga” (had) a premiere at the QCInema International Film Festival last Oct. 21 at Trinoma.

What kind of advise can you give to aspiring artists and filmmakers?

Tuloy lang nang tuloy. Gawa lang nang gawa. As we say in kamias overground, “Plod on!”

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