It’s strange to think about upcoming movies. To anticipate, let alone make an entire list of my most anticipated films is absurd, especially after what we’ve all collectively gone through last year. Though vaccinations are underway, a utopic “great return” to some sort of normalcy feels exactly like that—a utopia, a promise that at this point feels as lofty as living in a reality with hovercars and a fully intact planet.
That being said, we’re all still here. Everything carries on, most especially film release cycles, global pandemics be damned. And even if 2021 is poised to be a weird year for moviegoing (or perhaps even weirder than 2020), there are titles that I’d be happy to see, hopefully in theaters, but one can only cross their fingers.
Read on for the full list of Filipino movies we want to see in 2021:
Our most anticipated Filipino films (2021)
Death of Nintendo
Probably my most anticipated film of the year, Death of Nintendo looks like a full-180 for Raya Martin, who’s known for darker, more experimental works like Autohystoria (2007), Independencia (2009) and How to Disappear Completely (2013).
Like his previous film, Smaller and Smaller Circles, this new coming-of-age drama is set in the 90’s, following a ragtag group of young’uns killing time during summer.
Interestingly, the film has made its Philippine premiere last year during the 2020 QCinema International Film Festival, so my fingers are crossed for a wider theatrical release this year.
You can watch the full trailer below:
Ang Mga Kaibigan Ni Mama Susan
Based on the 2010 Bob Ong novel, Ang Mga Kaibigan Ni Mama Susan follows a college student who, in his journal, details strange encounters he’s regularly facing. Elsewhere, a cult is at work for a day of reckoning.
The film adaptation is helmed by Chito S. Roño, a fitting choice for such a popular horror story like Mama Susan. Joshua Garcia topbills as the main character, Galo.
Upstream teased the film as part of their roster during the 2020 Metro Manila Film Festival.
Though it made its Philippine premiere in 2019 and had its release in the US via Netflix in 2020, my hopes are high for a wider release of Isabel Sandoval’s Lingua Franca.
The film tells the story of an immigrant Filipina transwoman (played by Sandoval herself) who works as a caregiver for a Russian family in Brooklyn. We’ve covered this film in an episode of Pervision, where we went as far as calling it as one of the better films to have come out this year.
Check out the episode and the trailer for the film below.
When The Waves Are Gone
Lav Diaz’s latest takes after Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, involving two thieves who end up on forked paths—one being imprisoned and the other leading a wealthy life as an island ruler. Like his last film, Genus, Pan, the film will be produced under Epicmedia.
Interestingly, the film will have 6-7x the budget that Lav typically works with, which is in itself a welcome experiment. The budget comes from a four-way co-production across Epicmedia, Films Boutique (Russia), Snowglobe (Denmark), and Rosa Filmes (Portugal).
The release date has yet to be confirmed, but there’s chance we might get it later this year.
Originally scheduled for the 2020 Cinemalaya, David Corpuz’s sophomore feature Seperate/Separate has been on our radars since early 2020.
Corpuz’s previous films include the portmanteau romance film, Anatomiya ng Pag-Ibig (2015), and the beguilling short, The Ordinary Things We Do (2014).
This new film follows a young boy who tries to “lull the sorrow after being abandoned by his mother” by joining a school spelling bee.
It will premiere as part of the 17 feature films premiering at the 17th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival that’s happening this year.
Dito at Doon
Production has started for JP Habac’s Dito at Doon late last year. Following typical release schedules, it should arrive sometime this year.
The film, which is said to be of the same ilk as Habac’s past projects (I’m Drunk, I Love You, Gaya Sa Pelikula), stars Janine Guttierrez and JC Santos.
After last year’s Magikland, there’s a clear demand for Filipino sci-fi/fantasy adventure stories, which is why the Magic Temple remake comes at an opportune time.
Mikhail Red, director of Birdshot (2013) and Dead Kids (2019), has been tapped to remake the 1996 classic from Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes for modern audiences. The film is well underway, with Star Cinema and Singapore’s Cre8 on board to produce.
The original film has also been recently restored and remastered. Watch the trailer:
This writer has no qualms outing himself as a John Lloyd-Bea fan. I think together and apart they’re great actors, but together they make anything watchable. This is very much true about One More Chance (2007), a film that wouldn’t have stuck around and spawned a sequel many years later if not for what they both bring to the table.
So, with great expectations I await their new film, No Goodbyes, helmed by the same director, Cathy Gorcia-Molina.
O.K., let’s chill it with the pitchforks. The fact that there are two Lav Diaz films in this list doesn’t have to automatically classify me as a Lav simp. But hear me out.
An adaptation of Ricky Lee’s short story of the same-name, the film depicts “the history of Filipino violence”. A description that, to those who’ve seen Lav’s films, isn’t exactly new. But as Lee points out, his films always brings fresh perspectives to the fore.
The film stars John Lloyd Cruz, Gio Gahol, Agot Isidro, and Hazel Orencio. It’s slated for a 2021 release.
Whether the Weather Is Fine
If all goes well, we might finally be able to see Carlos Manatad’s Whether the Weather is Fine. The film, due to make its festival rounds soon, is about a mother (Charo Santos-Concio) and son (Daniel Padilla) struggling to survive in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda.
Emmanuel Palo’s Ang Halimaw is set to premiere at Cinemalaya 2021 alongside Seperate/Separate. Set against the backdrop of the Marcos regime, the film tails a young boy as he waits to be reunited with his parents who are high-value targets by Marcos’military.
Palo’s previous works include Sta. Niña (2012) and David F. (2013).
The Haunted Mirror
This horror film has been in the works for awhile. And it’s here solely based on the filmmakers supposedly involved. Sometime in 2018, it’s been announced that Kenneth Dagatan is set to make a horror-thriller film, The Mirror. Dagatan, of course, is the filmmaker behind 2018’s Ma, one of the best horror films to come out that year.
Originally slated for 2019, it is now being scheduled for 2021 release, with apparently a new director at the helm and a different title, The Haunted Mirror. Jerrold Tarog, who previously made Bliss (2017), is tapped as director, according to this Wikipedia slate, though no official announcement has been made from either Star-Cinema or T-Rex Entertainment.