T500FC, 452nd: Clash [Engkwentro] (Pepe Diokno, 2009)


The English translation of Engkwentro in Google Translate is Encounter. The word encounter delves on the negative side of the spectrum. And that is mainly what Pepe Diokno, the director, tells us. I’d definitely wanted to say that this is an uplifting film but it is not. It is definitely one bleak story that could have or had happened before. And even if cinema defines the obvious, it also gives away the harsh reality even if it was a gist of the everyday lives of people who are striving to live the daily survivals of life.

Two parts provide the story of the whole movie, one shown in the daylight and the other vice versa. And those two parts having a single take of a scene each. It was quite a feat not just for the director but also for the whole cast too. And you also have to include the location and the numerous extras in the film; it was marvelous.

Felix Domingo, son of Bembol Roco who had a small role in the Mel Gibson-Sygourney Weaver starrer The Year Of Living Dangerously, stars as the main protagonist cum anti-hero of the film. With the everyday struggles of his life, which includes saving his younger brother from joining a gang, planning to elope with his girlfriend, fighting the supposed gang leader that his younger brother is joining, and running away from a vigilante group, he still manages to endure his daily musings. Together with his story, gives us a background speech of a politician, using the voice of Celso Ad Castillo, giving a lot of the supposed truth in his government.

We originally intended to only watch Mike Sandeja’s Dinig Sana Kita in an Indie film fest in Arts In The City at The Fort. With luck, we were able to catch the screening of Engkwentro. It was kind of sad though that people weren’t that aware of this film, as there were only three of us who watched the film. Nevertheless, three people are better than none and hoping us three appreciated this movie from start to finish.

I was reminded of Remton Siega Zuasola’s Ang Damgo Ni Eleuteria when I saw the first twenty minutes of this film and as expected Diokno did something that is seldom used by directors worldwide. One-take scenes are hard to create much more with the different instances and the aggressive environment that they are in. Timing is definitely important. But aside from the technicalities, we always have to keep the acting above par. And that is what this film provided.
And even if young actors were used, the performance looked authentic and it was just smart to do the gang war in the middle of the night, adding a little more of the legitimacy of the film.

Now, I am not sure on where the writers got this idea. It felt like a Nazist rule, generally speaking, hoping of course for the Utopian dream. As the film conveys its true form, layers and layers of ideas, experiences, and problems lie in each of those coating. You thought it was probably just a joke but it is not. Things like these happen and one possible solution is awareness, which is what this film probably expressed.

Maybe I am just lucky to catch this film. I’ve heard of this film, much more with the film winning the celebrated Orizzonti Prize and the Lion of the Future Award of the Venice Film Festival. And I am sure you’d want to watch this, coming from the eyes of a twenty-two year old filmmaker, which also says that he was one of the youngest winners in the aforementioned film festival.


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