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March/April 2022: Ode to Nothing
Can you believe it’s April already?
Our third release — of Dwein Baltazar’s melancholic art-horror hybrid Ode to Nothing (2018) — completes our inaugural duo of Filipino releases. Along with with Lino Brocka’s Cain and Abel (1982), our hope is to give a taste of the exciting work coming out of the Philippines, past and present. And hopefully give you sense of where our curating sensibility lies going forward: somewhere between arthouse and genre cinema, always filmmaker-driven. Brocka’s negotiation of politics, melodrama and action film tropes is a great example of this ; so is Baltazar’s darkly comic reflection on mortality — a film that speaks the language of horror to achieve something very grounded, very real. A grappling with the simplest fact of life: we all die.
I forget where and how exactly I first encountered the film, but I was proud to be able to bring it to the Fantasia International Film Festival in 2019, after it had won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay at QCinema, Quezon City’s influential festival highlighting new Filipino cinema. It also currently sits in 2nd position on Letterboxd’s Top 100 Narrative Feature Films directed by Asian Women (and other lists, too). So, ahem, don’t take our word for it…the people have spoken!
The film speaks for itself. And perhaps it’s been made more resonant by the bleak turn the world has taken lately — and/or keeps taking — since the film first came out. But sometimes it’s good to sit with those feelings, and consider what a strange, beautfiful thing being alive is. It’s a bleak world out there. It’s full of death and hurt. It’s full of nothing but if you’re anything like Dwein Baltazar, you might just turn into an ode, a round-about celebration of life, and the little time we have on this pebble.
Whew — how’s your week going?
We wanted the packaging to reflect the dripping, humid, inviting void and stillness of the film, and were privileged to work with Costantino Zicarelli to achieve this. He gave us jaw-droppingly beautiful wrap art and a wet — literally — title treatment that we turned into a limited edition “rot” slipcover, available via Vinegar Syndrome. We considered debossing the title, but settled on a discrete layer of gloss. It makes for a tricky thing to photograph (it’s almost as if the packaging absorbs light unless angled just right), which is is to say, perfectly fitting the film (if we may say so ourselves).
We’ve technically already announced our May release, if you’re willing to dig a little. It’s a neat, Osaka-set drama that can also be described as a paranoïd thriller. We are very excited, as we commissioned an entirely new short film to go along with it - a first for us! Turns out our release following that is also (!) on the list linked above. Summer/Fall, we’re looking at two Japanese films from the late 80s, by an underrated iconoclast (in the West, that is) associated with the jishu eiga (“independant film”).
By the way, where do you put your Kani stickers?
Thank you for the continued support, and see you in 30!