4

Staff & contributors

Ordinary People tells the harrowing story of Jane and Aries, two teenage parents struggling to survive the streets of Manila. At the mercy of limited welfare, the two resort to criminal activity to get by. When a woman offers to help them financially (on loan), Jane eventually relents—but is shocked to discover that her baby's been kidnapped. Trying everything from going to the police to contacting the perpetrator's mother, the reality becomes unavoidable: no one truly cares for the poor even if they're children. Interspersed with CCTV footage of the crimes the characters commit or witness, this powerful, heartbreaking portrait of poverty still offers glimmers of hope as they fight the odds to continue their search together. 

Genre: Drama

Actor: Alora Mae Sasam, Bon Andrew Lentejas, Erlinda Villalobos, Gold Aceron, Hasmine Killip, Karl Medina, Maria Isabel Lopez, Moira Lang, Raymond Lee, Ronwaldo Martin, Ruby Ruiz, Sue Prado

Director: Eduardo Roy Jr.

Rating: R

It is hard to be unmoved by how Die Beautiful defies conventions and explores the essence of identity, acceptance, and resilience. Centered around the life of Trisha, a transgender woman with a passion for beauty pageants, the film takes us on a rollercoaster of emotions as we witness Trisha's life unfold, both in joyous moments and in the face of painful degradation and assault. The film seamlessly weaves together humor, tenderness, and raw vulnerability, delivered stunningly by its lead, Paolo Ballesteros. With other films such as Kalel, 15 and Bwakaw under his belt, director Jun Lana continues to meld reality with hope, injecting kindness and heart into much-needed queer stories.  

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Adrian Alandy, Albie Casiño, Cedrick Juan, Christian Bables, Eugene Domingo, Gladys Reyes, I.C. Mendoza, Iza Calzado, Jade Lopez, Joel Torre, Kokoy de Santos, Lou Veloso, Luis Alandy, Paolo Ballesteros

Director: Jun Lana, Jun Robles Lana

Rating: TV-14

Unlike in many films about old people on the doorstep of death, the titular grandmother in this movie is excited to leave for good. But when her town insists on celebrating her bid to be named the oldest in the world, unresolved conflict among her descendants begins to resurface. Quiet and unabashedly sentimental, Lola Igna offers a uniquely offbeat perspective on death—one that starts from a place of contentment, and only gets more conflicted as more characters reveal how much still has to be said and done. It has all the charm of a low-budget Filipino film, made all the more poignant by Angie Ferro's authentic and deceptively layered performance.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Angie Ferro, Chamyto Aguedan, Joel Saracho, Maria Isabel Lopez, Meryll Soriano, Peewee O'Hara, Royce Cabrera, Soliman Cruz, Yves Flores

Director: Eduardo Roy Jr.

With their personal life offered for consumption, carefully curated for viewers and sponsors, the social media influencer has become a fascinating character to study, especially with the job becoming Gen Z’s top career aspiration. As If It’s True examines this character through Gemma Stone, using the fake relationship trope to examine the lengths to which she would cling to her clout. John Roger’s debut feature blurs the line between real and the fake, not just for Gemma and James but also for the viewers, and it brings up much to say about how this aspiration can ruin people. However, the lines are blurred too much, as the ideas don’t mesh cohesively as it could. As If It’s True is an interesting character study, but the film hasn’t allowed itself to see the human side of the people highly incentivized to be fake for views.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Adrianna So, Ashley Ortega, Jan Silverio, Khalil Ramos, Marnie Lapus

Director: John Rogers