Title: Himpapawid (Manila Skies)
Director: Raymond Red
Cast: Raul Arellano, John Arcilla, Ronnie Lazaro, Soliman Cruz
Running time: 98 minutes
Notable for: Being inspired by a real life incident
One of the pioneers of contemporary, independent cinema in the Philippines, Raymond Red, whose 12 minute Anino (Shadows) claimed the Palme D'or for short films at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, has used his background in Fine Arts and photography to make a number of striking films. 2009's Himpapawid, known internationally as Manila Skies, is a powerful thriller, drawn from a real life plane hi-jacking case, that sees Red combining poetic, social and magical realism to portray the bureaucratic and economic struggles, not to mention the official corruption, widespread criminality and social isolation facing the average citizen trying to survive in the modern day bedlam that is Manila. Called a 'terrific film' by Paul Schrader, Manila Skies follows Raul (Raul Arellano), a simple man from the countryside drawn to the city in the hope of earning a living wage. His daily struggles, descent into criminal activity and final desperate attempt to get back home to his ailing ,aged father provides a visually startling, politically charged vision of a life dominated by poverty, class and familial bonds.
Red, one of the first Filipino's to be awarded a Rotterdam Hubert Bals Memorial grant, is lauded in his native country for his socially conscious film-making and Manila Skies, his first feature length film for over a decade, is a vital slice of contemporary world cinema.