When Monik (Japo Parcero) was reunited with her childhood playmate and admirer Bagyo (Alchris Galura) on a homecoming, they visited a lake called, ‘Kalaw’. The supposed reunion laughter turned into a deep, sorrowful cry, as the two remember the incident that has been corrupting Monik’s life.

The laughter-turned-cry scene remains the most epic part of the film because of the disturbance it leaves the audience, especially when more details are revealed.

A masterpiece written and directed by Immy Rempis, ‘Kalaw’ is an official entry to the New Wave Shorts category of Metro Manila Film Festival 2014.

Beyond the Role of a Protagonist

The most powerful element of the film comes in the package of Parcero’s portrayal. The acting, the facial gestures, her body movement, and her character’s overall aura on screen synchronize with that of a real troubled person.

Her thin face and the grief-stricken eyes convince the audience that she is indeed a captive of a dark past- she has been sexually abused by her father and even innocently perform the exploitation on her little sister when they were still young.

Even on the first minute of the film, Parcero appears to be the right actor for the role. And she is able to do the job in high note until the last scene-- not forgetting that she is with a team of a good director, make-up artists, and other persons in the support system.

Shooting with Child Actors

About 30 percent of the movie shows flashback scenes dominated by three child actors. Given that the movie involves a taboo, it may be crucial for the director to give the child actors proper handling.

According to Rempis, parents of the children were present during the shooting. When more serious scenes took turn, the director implemented alternative instructions so the child actors knowingly acted out a regular scene but the camera was actually capturing a different one.

One of the strengths of the film is the natural acting of the three children. They moved freely, as if there were no cameras rolling to document them for a film.

Just Minor Flaws

Rempis admitted to have the movie re-edited to conform with MTRCB’s guidelines for public viewing.

The first version of the movie was 'Rated X' by the governing body so Rempis had to do painful revisions.  Normally, this type of activity kills the essence and artistry of the film and terribly hurt the director’s original plan for the masterpiece.

There are two aspects of the movie that need attention. 

First, it is surprising to realize that the early road scene was a flashback.  Although when the film gets back to the current time, the audience would understand that the parallel scene is a flashback. This sets the thinking of the audience that more flashback scenes are coming.

Second, the way Monik’s sister died is unclear. Although the showing of the breaking lake water suggests that she might have been drowned, the timing and more details of the death or drowing are still lacking. The conversations in the latter scenes directly reveal that Monik’s sister died.

Galura also did a good acting job, although his unnatural laughter in the early mentioned laughter-turned-cry scene is a bit irritating. However, he is still adorable as an actor in the whole film; he is able to complement Parcero's role.

The flaws are super minor; there are more reasons to love the movie.

Final Verdict: 4.5 out of 5

Rempis and her Kalaw team has many reasons to celebrate. Kalaw has surpassed the standard of a student short film or even an independent film. The plot, the directing, the acting, and the camera angles (in fact, there were no shitty shaky camera angles) are undeniably impressive. It is a good material for a feature film; it is commendable for Rempis to re-create the movie to add more scenes that will realize her original plot and plans. 

MMFF Screening Details: http://www.mmda.gov.ph/mmff/