I was introduced to Cinemalaya several years ago by Nicole, one of my best friends in the world. She asked us to support her uncle’s entry back in 2008 so of course, good friends that we were, we did. (And she gave us free tickets. I hardly ever say no to free stuff. HAHA)
I loved the entry so much that since then I try to catch at least one entry every year.
Milo Tolentino has always been one of my favorite mainstays in Cinemalaya, mostly because I love his light-hearted approach to making films. The first work of his that I ever saw was award-winning short film “Andong”, and it was that same entry that made me such a supporter of Cinemalaya.
This year, I was fortunate enough to catch the gala screening of Nono.
The plot is simple enough. Toto, a tremendously outspoken kid with a cleft lip (and palate it seems, by the sound of his speech), wants to join his school’s declamation competition. But because he has a speech impediment, people think this notion is ridiculous.
Okay yeah, you’re probably thinking “meh, another underdog story”, and maybe it is, up to some extent. I never felt an inkling of pity for Toto, though. From the beginning, it was clear that he understood that he was different, that people’s reactions to his defect vary and that he can learn to roll with it. (That is, if he didn’t know how to already. He’s incredibly sharp for someone so young.)
The plot was simple and straight to the point; it was the story’s characters that really sold it for me. As always, Milo did a great job with the kids, managing to portray a sense of normalcy and yet made all the actors shine in their own right. The audience immediately fell in love with Toto from his introductory scene alone. The side-stories involving the deaf best friend Ogoy, the frienemy Badong, and even the bizarre love story of Toto’s mother and a well-meaning Ilonggo were all equal parts funny and endearing, and just enough to tug even at my frozen heart’s strings.
I was unable to see any other Cinemalaya entries, but I’m really glad I caught this one.
More details on the movie can be found here.