UPV Cinematheque: : Celebrating cinema and a timeless life

“We love films because they makes us feel something. They speak to our desires, which are never small. They allow us to escape and to dream and to gaze into the eyes that are impossibly beautiful and huge. They fill us with longing. But also. They tell us to remember; they remind us of life. Remember, they say, how much it hurts to have your heart broken. -

”Nina LaCour, Everything Leads to You

I’ve always been a movie buff since my college days in UP Diliman. Most of my vacant time was spent watching free or twenty peso movies at the UP Film Center which was just a 10-minute walk from my  dormitory. I had a penchant for obscure, subtitled foreign movies, experimental or cult classics. Given my choice of movies, I would always find the theater either empty or find two or three lonely souls strategically dispersed in the 800- seater movie theater. 

I knew that despite the communal nature of  cinema, we still tend to view movies as a highly personal, guarded experience hence we draw an invisible line between ourselves and other movie goers. Yet, the vicarious emotions that cinema allow us to feel are all too well universal. So we laugh, cry or feel intense bursts of rage and ecstasy while a visual narrative plays before our eyes. Whether it’s pathos, pain, pleasure, or parody we share in the same thematic unfolding brought about by the human condition. I enjoy watching movies on streaming media but there’s still nothing like cinema to bring our splintered, emotional selves together. 

My Film 100 (Intro to Film) elective class under Prof. Rolando Tolentino also deepened my love for film analysis which has its roots in literary criticism. I remember the agony of having to sit through Citizen Kane, Gone with the Wind and other notoriously long movies with nary an eye blink or a bathroom break with the fear of missing a critical subtext. Film 100 introduced me to starter kit movies that encompassed all cinematic genres and subgenres. 

On the homefront, one of the pleasures that an Ilonggo cineaste can enjoy is an occasional, free Sunday movie at the 77-seater UPV Cinematheque-Cinema Exmundo at the UP in the Visayas Iloilo campus. A fellow cinephile friend who particulatly loves bygone Hollywood films always send me invites. Schedule permitting, I would trade a Sunday afternoon otherwise devoted to bottomless laundry or ironing to a few hours at UPV Cinematheque to screen a  classic film noir I haven’t seen before. Compared to a commercial movie house, the crimson walled cinematheque has a ceiling with tiny strobing lights reminscent of a constellation filled summer night sky and vintage lacquered chairs upcycled from the now defunct Allegro Theater. Of course, the heavy red velvet drapes add an authentic vintage ambiance to the cinematic experience. In the theater, I sit quietly like an old soul in the company of senior citizens who long for bygone love, life and romance  like a sweet rewind to the ardent days of youth. Only cinema can transport you to  another time, another place.

Just this Sunday, I got invited to attend a cinema themed 100th posthumous birthday celebration of my friend’s father,  a war veteran who loved the movie Fiddler on the Roof when he was still alive. Sunrise, Sunset taken from the soundtrack  of the said movie along with You are my Sunshine were two of his favorite songs and the guests fittingly sung them at the end of the screening. The family also prepared a special snack box for the guests filled with nostalgic treats with home baked cookies and chips. It was my first time to witness a posthumous birthday celebration done in very memorable, heartwarming way. To celebrate the 100th  birthday of a dearly departed loved one with his favorite movie and songs while trading memories and reminiscing good times is probably the best way to celebrate a life well lived.

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