Easily the most intriguing entry in the first ever Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino film festival is the feature film debut of neophyte filmmaker Miguel Franco Michelena.
The only trilogy in the upcoming festival, “Triptiko” is described by Michelena as “a Filipino pop culture version of triptych, which is a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical pieces intended to be appreciated together.”
“It is an amalgamation between classics like ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘Black Mirror’ with an original dose of Pinoy humor,” Michelena told InterAksyon during the film’s recent press conference.
Mentored by the late, great Marilou Diaz-Abaya, the 31-year-old director said his film is also partly inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” and directed in the eclectic, genre-busting style of the Coen Brothers.
“Triptiko” follows the strange misadventures of three young men who are totally unrelated to one another. In the first segment called “Swerte,” Albie Casiño plays Jake, a hot-blooded, young man who thinks he is the luckiest guy on the planet until his luck takes a turn for the worse when he suddenly experiences one unfortunate circumstance after another.
“It’s a rambunctious escape-and-chase story with an ending that questions the very meaning of ‘swerte’ or luck,” Michelena noted.
The next story, “Hinog” stars Joseph Marco as Jason, a male model who wakes up one day to discover a shameful ailment spreading all over his body. Unsure as to how he got afflicted with the mortifying disease, he tries to do whatever he can to save his dying career and even consults a notorious shaman—a “medicine man” who determines that the condition is related to the supernatural.
“In the story, the lead character Jason will be faced with a moral dilemma to test his resolve,” Michelena further shared.
Finally, there’s the tragic tale of “Musikerong John” where the title character played by Kean Cipriano is a folk musician returning to the stage after a two-year hiatus. In between songs during his live set, he tells the heartbreaking tale of Ann, the love of his life played by Kylie Padilla.
“Built around three original songs that Kean performed live on the film, the story slowly reveals how John’s relationship ended in a painful conclusion when Ann started to transform into something he does not fully understand,” the director explained.
Asked why he came up with a film consisting of not just one but three stories that not a few would consider as weird, Michelena said that was exactly the idea for “Triptiko.”
“Minsan ang buhay ‘medyo weird’ so I came up with the concept for ‘Triptiko’ which is three bizarre, absurd and out-of-this-world yet compelling plot lines.”
Well, as weird as it sounds, “Triptiko” has been Graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board and may yet emerge as the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino’s most pleasant surprise.
“We submitted the film last year to the Metro Manila Film Festival but it was not selected so we tried again here in Pista and I was so grateful and overwhelmed when it was chosen. I’ve always wanted to show this nationwide and now I got my wish,” Michelena exclaimed.
The young director is excited to see how “Triptiko” would be received by the moviegoing public when the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino organized by the Film Development Council of the Philippines opens nationwide on August 16.
“We’re doing something different so I’m looking forward to how people will react when they see my film,” the director concluded.
A film by Michelena Brothers Production and Barrio’s Pictures, “Triptiko” has been picked up for distribution by ABS-CBN’s Star Cinema. Other members of the film’s star-studded cast include Jerald Napoles, Art Acuña, Jay Gonzaga, Pinky Amador and Karl Medina.
Watch the official trailer of “Triptiko” here: