THE YELLOW SHAWL III (1944)_My Shortest Film EverFebruary 2, 2010
Finally, I made the shortest film in my life —2min 15sec in length! And in narrative form! [This is rare because I prefer making feature-length docus]. It formed Part III [The Yellow Shawl (1944) of Francisco Arcellana’s story with the same title, performed and presented last Thursday to Saturday [January 28-30], by the UP Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts under the direction of my good friend Dr. Belen Calingacion, the Department’s Chairperson. We did a coverage of the Chamber Theater’s last performance at Teatro Hermogenes Ilagan in UP.
The film as flashback helps in understanding the whole story superbly played by Nico Paolo Arguelles and Danica Paola Romero. The video images in black and white show her past, explaining in the process why the girl acts the way she does. The traumatic experience of continually being haunted by the anguish and sufferings of her mother from the Japanese soldiers, and, as insinuated in the story, as a Comfort Woman is shown in the film. But the similarity ends there. There is variation in the scenes and the settings. The film is a screen adaptation, or rather, Belen’s interpretation of the story. [To read the story click theyellowshawl.htm] I came up with a very simple film, yet there were those who admittedly told me that it touched them so much they shed tears while watching it. The merge of the present and the past (through the film) resulted in a beautiful and powerful ending—an affirmation of how powerful a film can be. But that was only made possible because of the natural and good acting ensemble of course, and the proper use of the segment in the play.
The film was largely shot using handheld camera. A rather hush work shot done in the UP campus with only one assistant, starring friends and neighbors of Belen. It was fun! Meeting old acquaintances as Dr. Ruby Alcantara and new wonderful people, as her grand daughter Czarise Jyvoane Alcantara who acted as the Child, Rex Flores [the Japanese soldier], his wife Dr. Crisanta Flores, [Girl’s mother], and “tambay sa UP Film Center” as Gina [Dr. Amanda Umali III] described herself. She owns the cozy house where we shot the scenes. She too was a student in Humanities of UP Film Center Founder Ms. Virginia “Aling Barang” Moreno.
The two-minute film took me two days to edit [tried many variations], and even after my first declaration to myself that version 3 was final [I settled on not revealing the mother’s face immediately], my brain did not stop until I acceded to its prodding to try reshuffling shots further more. I finally came up with version 4 which was shown, and still to be shown* …BUT, before I completely erase my video files, I would be trying a 5th version. I shall manipulate some more shots [dagdag-bawas pa] so as to end with both the child and the father. Again I blame this on my brain’s workings. More often than not, in film editing, I follow the dictates of my brain as I always come up with something better. But if it doesn’t work after the try [my judgment still], I feel more “peaceful’ for giving in to my mind’s proddings just the same. By not just settling in what I thought to be good and already quite acceptable is really quite good for my mental health. The feeling of satisfaction for exhausting everything possible would be there. And there would also be closure as well.
*The Chamber Theater group got invitations to perform the back-to-back play at DLS Taft and CCP this week. Re the screening at De La Salle, I received this text message from Belen last night:
PRISMS a Chamber Theater Production of Nick Joaquin’s “May Day Eve” and Franz Arcellana’s ” The Yellow Shawl” at N. Fajardo Gonzales Auditorium De La Salle University Taft at 2 pm and 5 pm. Feb.3. Tickets are sold at the North gate of DLSU, 100 pesos.
(To read a short bio on Francisco Arcellana, click index.php?title=Francisco_Arcellana)