I missed the chance to see one of the most talked about movie among film critics and “feeling” film critics in Cinephiles (a famous Facebook Group of mostly Filipino movie buffs) weeks ago. Just when I thought I can finally prevent dandruff to bombard my shoulders whenever someone from that group talks about the milieu of “Ang Nawawala“, something happened to the film’s screening here in Davao. This lead to the disappointment of the souls of the few film enthusiasts in the city. Today, I feel like I should go back scratching my head to eternity and blame my fellow Davaoenos for not supporting independent movies.

I wonder if Ang Nawawala is really worthy of my time, this post and my precious dead skin cells. Controversial as it was criticized for being too “bourgeoisie”, I tried to understand where everyone was coming from. It’s not like I didn’t kill myself with a swarm of film spoilers, unguarded comments, cringe-worthy arguments and a handful of constructive criticisms which some are self-destructive in context. Now it sounds like there will definitely be more head-scratching if I ever get to see the movie. But that is something I have yet to find out. And since I haven’t seen the movie I’ll reserve my judgement to all that’s been said and done across film blogs and “Ang Nawawala” threads at Facebook. Still, I’m craving for what isn’t here now – “Ang Nawawala (What Isn’t There)” – and I can’t wait to participate and turn the long, mad as a hatter discussion into an outdated walking corpse or probably not!

Bitch. I’m not even sure if I’ll ever get to see Marie Jamora’s Ang Nawawala. Winner of Cinemalaya 2012’s Audience Choice and Best Original Score (New Breed Full-Length Feature) Awards.

Ang Nawawala is about Gibson Bonifacio who stopped speaking as a child. He is now twenty years old, returning to Manila from his studies abroad, his first visit home in three years. He finds his family trying to keep it together, his mother still hurting from a tragic loss in the past. In the backdrop of the vibrant local music scene, his childhood best friend reaches out to him, and he finds a chance at his first real romantic relationship. Amidst the holidays, Gibson reconsiders and redefines his relationships with his family, his friends, and with himself.

Okay, that was the official synopsis from their website. I thought it would be best to post an official detail about the movie than season my own version with spoilers. Perhaps from an ordinary person’s standpoint the film is nothing but a boring drama of the upper upper class. But so what? That doesn’t mean indie films like this are of no fun and has no substance than the recent offerings in cinema. And don’t you dare get me started about films having social relevance. I don’t mean to generalize indie films within the bubble of Ang Nawawala as it may summon philosophers from their mother’s womb but looking back, what happened to Ang Nawawala here in Davao has happened before.

In fact, Ang Nawawala luckily made two full days of screening unlike last years’ Rakenrol which I think was only screened once and never again. I believe even “Mga Mumunting Lihim”, “Bwakaw” and “Captive” mildly experienced the same fate with Ang Nawawala.

I’m not sure and I dare not claim any conclusion, but I have this little theory that maybe, just maybe, the Davao movie-going market isn’t as open-minded or as supportive as those who were in Manila. I based that not because of some tallied box office report but based on the successful film festivals held in Manila. There’s Cinemalaya, Cinema One Originals and the New Wave Section of the Annual Metro Manila Film Festival which are all successful. We have Mindanao Film Festival here, and I became judge last year, but even our very own MFF didn’t seem to have made any noise in the city.

Recently, the Film Development Council of Philippines launched a Cinematheque in Davao to bring independent and some worthy mainstream films closer to the Davaoenos. Additionally, this year they gave film grants to aspiring filmmakers and came up with The First Sineng Pambansa which was held here but seemed nonexistent to most of the Davao people. This November they will have the second part of Sineng Pambansa called “Ikalawang Yugto” and I’m hoping that they’ll do intensive promotions not only for the event to become successful but to awaken each and every movie-going Davaoeno from their Mainstream and Hollywood coma.

Malls are hard to please and hard to blame about the missing case of Ang Nawawala. And who am I to blame each and every Davaoeno for not watching the movie when everyone is entitled to their preferences. I cannot blame Star Cinema for their nonstop promotions of The Mistress that other films got snubbed during The Mistress’ opening period. And I cannot even blame the movie itself for being just an indie film. But is it JUST an indie film?

Unfortunately, it is just an indie film and not everyone has a taste for it. The thing about indie films is that they’re too niche that they needed intensive marketing. Even some of the mainstream movies suffered the same fate as with Ang Nawawala! FLOPPED. (See: I Do Bidoo Bidoo) I honestly haven’t seen that movie but I would really have because it’s a Chris Martinez film and Eugene Domingo is on the lead. It was as critically acclaimed as Ang Nawawala and perhaps one of the best mainstream films this year. But it was pulled out here in Davao due to weak ticket-sales. Having big actors, or big production companies to back you up isn’t an assurance that you’re film (be it indie or mainstream) will get everyone’s nod. Enter Joey Reyes’ Cinemalaya Film “Mga Mumunting Lihim” which stars Judy Ann Santos, Iza Calzado, Agot Isidro and Janice De Belen and now you have the lowest grossing film by far this year with only P774,349.00. How much more indie films who may have an anonymous line-up of actors? See.

In case you’ll ask me where do they get funds for my “intensive marketing” crap? That’s not my problem bitch. I know that they need to work with what they have but here enters the hackneyed expression “If there’s a will, there’s a way”.

I think we can partly blame the marketing department of Ang Nawawala (if they happen to exist) for they should have done intensive promotions about the movie. I guess the least thing I could do right now is to shut up and wait until my fellow Davaoenos would change their perspective towards the independent cinema. And not only Davaoenos but the movie-going MASS. I know that not all indie films are gems but I hope you’re clever enough to know that most mainstream films are trash. Nuff said, I still have to buy a new anti-dandruff shampoo.