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Some may just look at it as a treatise on the perils of substance abuse. But it cannot be denied that it has managed to be engaging first and foremost as a dark chamber drama involving what could have been a delicious ménage a trois disturbed by an unexplained presence.

 

Indie cinema in the Philippines treads many paths. Its rise and success cannot be claimed by one entity or be attributed to a singular source. Beyond the explosion of output propelled by grants-giving bodies are resourceful efforts and initiatives of self-reliance from emboldened individual practitioners who go on their own without the backing of diversifying big business and conglomerates finding fronts with their respective enterprise of calculated philanthropy.

The phenomenon of such indie ventures as Partee (written and directed by Jill Singson Urdaneta), may exactly be situated in aforementioned context. Relatively long in the can, it has finally seen the light of release with a world premiere for this year’s Singkuwento International Film Festival.

This is the kind of film with gritty material that the mainstream would not touch with a proverbial ten-foot pole. At the same time, it is not the kind of palatable indie that would be an instant rage and attract fanatic devotion. It is serious with what it wants to say and is diligent with its construction. Audiences are sure to find it disorienting as much as intriguing – leaving them wondering about the basis of its appeal.

As it delves into each of the characters’ altered states of consciousness, the film gives shape to a cautionary tale stripped bare of any intent and need to shock, send shudders and serve as a podium for high-minded moralizing and pontification.

Ultimately, the film’s merit lies in its very subversion of the popularized template for independent cinema – opting instead for one more alternate route yet to be trodden even by the fiercest from the rank and file of indie creators.  The film in its own right is commendable for expanding thereby the field by which indies in the country can truly be diverse and thoroughly unconventional.

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