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We Still Have to Close our Eyes

John Torres

A collage of scenes in the periphery of film sets and locations in Manila made to look like a fictional piece, a gift to a baby named Aki Tala who will grow and watch her father’s work for the first time.

Much as Pere Portabella hi-jacked the images he made on the set of Jess Franco’s Comte Dracula for his own film Cuadecuc, vampir (1971) in order to evoke Franco’s Spain, John Torres uses snatches of images he himself made on the shoots of recent Filipino films to evoke the archipelago under Rodrigo Duterte’s violent and misogynistic regime. Yielding to the law of an intentionally brief and extravagant story involving bikers teleguided by the users of a smartphone app or a bomb disguised as a frog in an attack on a karaoke club just as My Way is being sung – an allusion to the many macho and fatal street altercations triggered by negative reactions to its mediocre performances in recent years – these documents, of course, do more than satisfy the cinephile’s curiosity to see, for example, Lav Diaz holding a coffee on the set of Halt (2019). Rather, they document the atmosphere of a country where reality is tragically stranger than even the most unbelievable fiction. Where you die for singing out of tune, where a president boasts of his crimes, where an anti-drug war serves as the implausible justification for thousands of abuses, and where army squadrons sent into the night of a dystopian fiction barely overstate a political reality. Combining, as is his wont, the repurposing of found footage and the practice of a diaristic cinema, John Torres gradually brings in a lullaby and the image of his daughter: let’s wish her a world where stories help you sleep. Antoine Thirion

PRINT SOURCE: John Torres, Los Otros Films,

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