Marie Jamora might be best known for her wonderful direction of music videos for Imago, Sandwich, Urbandub and that Eraserheads MV for their song Maskara (Well at least in our household she’s known for that.) and other local bands in the industry. It is evident that she likes to play with lights and sounds in her debut film for this year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival called Ang Nawawala (What Isn’t There), this film definitely deserves the Audience Choice Award & Best Original Music (New Breed Full Length Feature).

Ang Nawawala is an eye-candy hipster bred film. That is to describe it in a few words. But in more than a few, it has that feel of a thesis film come true, being shown in a full length feature. When you take a vow of silence, like the film’s main character, Gibson Bonifacio has done since he was ten, and you just want to tell the world everything without losing someone, and something of yourself, you can always turn to music and photography to gain back that “voice”.

Gibson has returned to Manila after his studies abroad. Now twenty years old, he and his family and friends have yet to deal with an enduring past that has kept him silent for ten years. Being confined in his room, he begins to talk to his twin brother, Jamie, which seems like he is the only one Gibson talks to for ten years.

His mother also seems to have been hurt by this past, yet his entire family has tried best to keep everything together.

Gibson has been able to escape this estranged feeling with his family by being introduced by his closest friend Teddy to the local art and music scene. He is also introduced to a pixie-sized femme named Enid who is interested in his “mysterious” silence which paves way for her to try and forget an ex-boyfriend.

Through music, photographs, vintage records and unsaid words, the two begin to develop an unfleeting relationship towards each other. Without fully divulging the nature of the Bonifacio family’s story, the film sends us back to that past that has changed all of their lives entirely through excellent use of camera moves and takes.

The soundtrack helps as well. It actually seemed to have made a huge impact on the film because, well, not to spoil it this much, but the characters were somewhat related to music or closely related to music. Not only did they have the best local bands to help out (Itchyworms, Cambio, Sandwich, The Strangeness, Ang Bandang Shirley, Hannah + Gabi to name a few), the use of vintage OPM sounds. (I will edit this post once I get a DVD copy of the film. I was so enthused when they played these on the film.) One thing to note and to have you look forward to are a few Eraserheads songs that were TIMELY(yes, I mean it) featured in the film. Another thing to note of are the vintage and modern cameras that cameo’d in the film.

The elemental kilig of making first love a memorable experience was effectively captured on film. The film may be a bit on the verge of being too young, and too thesis-like. Which isn’t bad for a first featured full length film for people who cherish music in this way. But it’s the kind of thesis film that you would want to watch all over again just because of it’s eye-candiness. There is however something missing in it’s story entirely.  On both the family and the romance side of the film.

Starring Dominic Rocco as Gibson, his twin brother in real life Felix Rocco as his twin brother Jamie, the lovely Dawn Zulueta in her first indie film as their mother, Apo Hiking Society’s Buboy Garovillo as their father, and Annicka Dolonius as the wittingly sexy Enid.

A film about family, first love, getting lost in a trance of wonderful music, and a clear visual of Edsa at night and during Christmas, the young music-lover in us has a voice in this film. I would watch it again, give it a rate of 3.6/5, and keep it in my book of Great Soundtrack films. Catch this soon on dvd, or for local screenings, visit it’s website at http://www.angnawawala.com

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