Author Rowena Santos Aquino

Film lecturer at CSULB. Transnational, multilingual, migratory cinephilia.

Film Festival Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 6.44.58 PM

Jang Kun-jae’s films are characterised by conversations, chance, and encounter, delivered effortlessly by a minimal cast; and a preoccupation with the world that builds between two people, often between a man and a woman. A Midsummer’s Fantasia treads upon the above-mentioned issues in Jang’s subtle and quiet manner, but also surprises in the way he weaves them within an anthropological context of a small city community and the dual linguistic identity …

Film Festival Girlhood

The original French title of Céline Sciamma’s third feature film is Bande de filles, which roughly translates as ‘group of girls.’ As the title implies, Sciamma here continues her thematic coordinates of female identities, specifically in Parisian spaces, as she focuses on a group of young women who live in the ethnic banlieues …

Reviews manny-pacquiao-the-movie

What is perhaps most palpable in their documentary is the respect that co-directors Gast and Moore have for their subject, world-record holder Philippine boxer Manny Pacquiao. They present an informal (since it is by no means an exhaustive) biography of a man who is a fighter, in boxing as well as in life; an individual who has known struggles growing …

AFI FILM FEST 2014 Leviathan
(dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev)

The film begins and ends with a montage of the spaces in which the story takes place, moving from water to land: the sea, rocks, a river, flat terrain where only puddles of water remain, wooden carcasses of boats and structures, even the bones of what seems like the titular creature. Between the beginning and end, the greater …

Film Festival wayb_1-1

It is 14th January 2012, nighttime, and the camera captures people gathered on the streets of Bucharest. A gendarme tells people with a megaphone to disperse. The camera then follows this same gendarme as he tries to clear the crowds at University Square. Yet the film does not explain why people have gathered at the square. But for those who are either…

AFI FILM FEST 2014 Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 6.01.44 PM

Park Jung-bum’s second feature, one of the Jeonju Digital Project feature films for 2014, begins with a man chopping wood in the countryside, in the bitter cold. He is alone and determined in his actions, captured in long takes. The next sequence consists of a woman whose face we do not see; with her back to the camera, she takes off her blouse and begins to flagellate herself with a branch. She then nears the wall of the room in what …

AFI FILM FEST 2014 f91895263b8bd79e277100da237a2ba1

The debut feature of Shim Sung-bo is a leviathan of a film, given its production values, socio-historical and emotional scope, and subject. At one level, it tells of a rickety, small-time fishing vessel whose captain agrees to smuggle twenty-five Korean Chinese into South Korea in order to save the ship from being sold. Though new to …

AFI FILM FEST 2014 Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 9.39.01 AM

Nguyen Hoang Diep’s feature film debut has the simple premise of a college student who finds that she is about fifteen weeks pregnant. With a hypersexual boyfriend who is more preoccupied with earning money through cock fighting than with helping her think through the decision of keeping the baby or having an abortion, Huyen (Nguyen Thuy Anh) finds herself at a crossroads. But Nguyen takes this premise and rejects its …

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