“Correspondence” between Two Great Filmmakers

The late film critics and programmers from left: Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc

Written by

Jude Bautista

Imagine a series of letters between two film makers; instead of words they use actual footages and narration. The result is “Correspondence” by Jonas Mekas and Jose Luis Guerin. Their inspiration for making it is film critic and festival programmers Nika Bohinc and Alexis Tioseco. The film was part of the closing day of the .MOV fest at the U.P. Film Institute. The films screened were all connected to the couple who were tragically killed in 2009.

from left: .Mov programmers Oggs Cruz, Fernando Dayao and Richard Bolisay. Photo was taken at the U.P. Film institute after screening of “Mapang Akit” and “Correspondence.” Photo by Jude Bautista

Nika Bohinc is the unifying theme between Mekas and Guerin. To the uninitiated, the films are almost like a random collection of personal videos until you carefully listen to what both film makers have to say. Mekas shows the snowy conditions of theNew York streetwhere he lives or the joys of a simple meal of pickles, sausage, bread and wine. He addresses the camera as if he was showing Nika Bohinc the progress of his film editing that she had seen when she was alive.

Guerin’s footages are more varied in terms of place and even time. He jumps from random images from the Venice film fest and even rural Japan immediately before the earthquake to Thoreau’s cottage in Concord, Massachusetts. Mekas responds with footages from a former Nazi camp inPoland. This was especially meaningful for Mekas who based on his website, “In 1944, he and his brother Adolfas were taken by the Nazis to a forced labor camp in Elmshorn, Germany. After the War he studied philosophy at the University of  Mainz. At the end of 1949 the UN Refugee Organization brought both brothers to New York City, where they settled down in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.”

From right: .MOV Festival director Khavn Dela Cruz and .Mov Programmer Fernando Dayao. Photo was taken at the U.P. Film institute after screening of “Mapang Akit” and “Correspondence.” Photo by Jude Bautista

Guerin was able to capture precious footage of Nika Bohinc interviewing him for a TV show. He turned the tables on her by bringing his own camera and interviewing how she got into film. A smiling, warm Nika related on cam, “I grew up in the village of Ljubljana, by the lake. We had one cinema which was very old. I watched Snow White as a 5 year old. I was told I was crying so hard they had to take me out of the cinema.”

Guerin was able to succinctly explain what happened to her sometime after the interview through a voice over, “She decided to live in Manila with her partner Alexis Tioseco who is a force in Phil cinema. Shortly after attending a dinner party they were murdered. It was a painfully ordinary occurrence in a complex society.”

A scene from “Mapang Akit” by John Torres, closing film of the .MOV film fest held at the U.P. Film Institute.

Mekas is considered to be “the Godfather of American Avante Garde Cinema” while Guerin is called “as one ofEurope’s most influential and innovative non-fiction filmmakers” by the Harvard Film Archives site. Mekas narrated in correspondence, “There is no meaning, just moments. Footage collection of out takes from film reality to life.” Guerin ends his series with an image of  Thoreau’s quote from the author’s cottage, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

The screening included the behind the scenes footage of Lav Diaz’ “Agunistes.” The footage was shot by John Torres’ partner in the DOX:Lab program, Frosti Runolfsson of Iceland.

The closing film of the .MOV fest belonged to John Torres’ “Mapang Akit” The film with a running time of 40 minutes was put together from out takes of a documentary entitled, “Hudas, Hudas” based on the Holy Week festival in Antique. “Hudas, Hudas” was produced from the DOX:LAB program where European film makers are partnered with non European film makers to produce films in places like Asia, Africa andSouth America. Immediately after “Mapang Akit” Torres included a short behind the scenes footage of Lav Diaz’ “Agunistes”.  The behind the scenes footage was shot by Torres’ partner in the DOX:Lab program, Frosti Runolfsson ofIceland. “Agunistes” stars Marife Necesito and Evelyn Vargas.

Silver Shorts winner Jon Lazam (Hindi Satin Ang Buwan) with .MOV Programmer Oggs Cruz. Photo was taken at the U.P. Film institute after screening of “Mapang Akit” and “Correspondence.” Photo by Jude Bautista

“Hindi Satin Ang Buwan” by Jon Lazam, grand winner of the Silver Shorts competition also in .MOV was screened before the closing film along with Torres’ two short films “Muse” and “Silent film.” The event tarpaulin and poster was also presented to Alexis’ aunt Cristina Tioseco. For the apt line up of films festival director and film maker Khavn dela Cruz credited festival programmers Richard Bolisay, Oggs Cruz, Eduardo Dayao and Vanja Kaludjercic.

.MOV Festival Director Khavn dela Cruz and Prod. Mgr. Christine Quintana honors the top volunteer. Photo by Jude Bautista

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