A Movie Review at the International Film Festival Manhattan
By Marivir R. Montebon
This indie film will be remembered as a stellar artistic breakthrough and will be honored
as one of the few films that tries to understand the painful sacrifices women make.
New York City — In the indie film In Nomine Matris (In the Name of the Mother), the Spanish dance Flamenco bursts in rapturous choreography as it melds creatively with Philippine folk dances to tell the story of a young aspiring Flamenco dancer, Mara.
Portrayed by Liza Dino, who just won Best Actress in the International Film Festival Manhattan (IFFM) on October 23 here, this is the unraveling of Mara who pursues her dream dance, while being conflicted in her relationship with her own mother and the man she loves.
In form and in substance, this film is a quiet a winner, as IFFM’s Best Film for 2014. Written and directed by Will Fredo for Hubo Productions, it is based on a real life stories of Flamenco dancers in Manila where the entire film was shot.
Mara’s drama begins when she quashes her dream of becoming the principal Flamenco dancer because of her romantic involvement with Enrique (Al Gatmaitan), who is the son of her dance coach Mercedes.
Mercedes is dismayed by this youthful indiscretion and replaces Mara with Valerie (Maradee de Guzman) as lead dancer.
Real life bailera Clara Ramona, who plays the role of dance director Mercedes Lagdameo, magnificently choreographs the dances in the film. Her blending of the Flamenco with Tinikling and Pandango sa Ilaw, for instance, is an incredible artistic hallmark which took six months to create, with brisk foot work and feverish energy.
The story escalates in each scene with the emotional depiction of the Flamenco. However, some scenes needed more tightened editing, like that in the hospital where the bleeding Mara is taken by Daniel (Biboy Ramirez), Enrique’s brother who has been quietly interested in her.
The intense foot work in Mercedes’s first rendition of the Flamenco needs more focus as well, and could have been superimposed with her vividly beautiful and anguished facial expression during the dance. That may have created more impact with the audience, instead of the long drawn circular wide shots of the colorful Maranao and Tinikling dances.
The relationship between Mara and her mother Ava (Tami Monsod) provides the thematic meat of the story, ‘the moment when a child is born, the mother is also born’.
Ava is the controlling mother who stringently coaches her child to excel in Flamenco and be the lead dancer, as a way to redeem her own failed ambition. Mara shows resentment, as she sees her mother allowing herself to be a “doormat” mistress to a town mayor.
The clash in their relationship as mother and daughter reigns all throughout the story, but love triumphs in the end.
The eye opener for Mara is the hard hitting spoken word ‘Kiti-Kuta’ (Itch) of her friend Nikki (Jam Perez), who aside from being a Flamenco dancer, is also a stand up comedienne in the story. The truthfulness of the poem did not make her audience laugh.
In Nomine Matris will be remembered as a stellar artistic breakthrough. But most of all, it will be honored as one of the few films that tries to understand the painful sacrifices women make either for passionate ambition or love for a man. And why most often, she cannot have both. (With photos from Google.com)
Flamenco, a Spanish folk dance and song from southern Spain, is expressed in graceful arm movements that contrast the intensifying bewildering stomping of the feet. It is the dramatic dance of the outcast folk in Andalusia, revealing pained expressions of passion, anger and sexual tension.
Flamenco refers to a flame-coloured bird in Spain, which according to Andalusian historian Blas Infante, comes from the Hispano-Arabic term fellah mengu, meaning “expelled peasant”.
In his book Orígenes de lo Flamenco y Secreto del Cante Jondo, Infante maintained that fellah mengu meant the ethnic Andalusians of the Islamic faith, the Moriscos, who in order to avoid forced exile and religious persecution, integrated with the Roman, Jewish, and Indian immigrants.