THE PHILIPPINES / 2011 / Filipino, English / Color, B&W / Blu-ray / 90 min
Director, Script, Photography, Editing, Sound, Music: Jet Leyco
Producer: Veronica P. Santiago
Source: Jet Leyco
The Philippine National Railways’ new “Bicol Express” is stopped by a landslide, with the director onboard. His camera lens invites viewers into the tale of a dream, pausing on the television news crews who were supposed to broadcast the magnificent news of the train’s debut, and on the workers who hold their shovels with one hand, without complaint. The mysterious story surrounding a railway police officer, the history of rebels and the national army as told by the land, people who throw stones from along the train tracks—they all interweave into a single fable. This film is a visual exploration in scattered fragments, of a tale that fails to be neither fantasy nor reality.
[Director’s Statement] In 2010, the Philippine National Railways inaguarated their “new” train (a second-hand train bought from Japan), and invited media people for a test rail-run. The train was named “Bicol Express” and routed from Manila to Naga in a 16-hour ride. It was a sign of progress, they say.
At some point, this progress encountered some difficulty. Every progress has its own conflicts. These conflicts allow me to film and understand the scope of the problem—the dangerous railway, the stone throwers, the informal settlers, and a history of violence.
So we did our job to cover the event, as members of the press. But after having a conversation with a man who shared a brutal story from his town, I became more of a filmmaker than a media journalist.
Ex Press hopes to discover and re-examine the current state of the Philippines’ development through its socio-political structure, with a sense of experimentation of slow cinema. After two years, the film will be shown in Japan, a country of positive development.
Born in Manila in 1986, Jet Leyco is a filmmaker, TV director and cinematographer who has created short films, music videos, and TV commercials. He is a faculty member teaching cinematography at the Asia Pacific Film Institute. Since 2008, he has produced over sixty short projects in narrative, experimental/video art, and short documentary forms, in addition to music videos for the bands Vigo and Fando & Lis. His short film Patlang won Best Short Film at the DAKILA Alab Short Film Competition in 2010. Ex Press (2011) is his debut film and was awarded Special Jury Prize at the 13th Jeonju International Film Festival. It is also an official selection at the Osian’s-Cinefan Film Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and the Open City Docs Fest in London, among others. Leyco graduated cum laude in 2009 from Far Eastern University with a degree in Mass Communication. He is currently working on his second feature film titled Leave It for Tomorrow for Night Has Fallen, which received a script development grant from the Hubert Bals Fund.