Filipino filmmaker Khavn dela Cruz recently served up a double whammy in Oberhausen, Germany: a retrospective of his films and a thoroughly indie installation work, dubbed “Happyland.”
Organizers lined up 15 films in the program, but the pièce de résistance was the installation work that stood on a 1,000-square meter space, Dela Cruz told the Inquirer.
Part of the 63rd International Short Film Festival, the exhibit “Happyland” was held recently at the Hall of the Association for Contemporary Art Ruhrgebiet in Altenberg.
Touted by organizers as Dela Cruz’s “largest show outside the Philippines,”“Happyland” recreated scenes from Dela Cruz’s 2012 film, “Mondomanila”: “The slums, paintings, photos, drawings, jeepney stencils, stamps, tarpaulin art.”
The fest’s website summed up the installation as a “dump, a heavenly body, an orgy session, a punk explosion.”
In a way, the site pointed out, “Happyland” also “questioned a festival’s conventions.” “It was a collective-anarchic art event, more laboratory than finished piece, a work that didn’t aim to be permanent and came alive through participation.”
Audience involvement was greatly encouraged.
The site asserted that the “immersive” retro/exhibit allowed visitors not only to watch Dela Cruz’s films (made from 1994 to 2017), “they could also dance, listen to music or poems or lectures and eat.”
Dela Cruz brought in his catering company’s cook, Carina Ulan, who whipped up good old-fashioned carinderia chow—laing, adidas (chicken feet), sisig, Bicol express, lugaw—for the German crowd. “They loved the Filipino dishes,” Dela Cruz recalled.
Quite aptly, the video shown in the installation space was titled “Mashed Kamote.”
There was also a fashion show (held from the train station to the exhibition hall) and concerts headlined by Dela Cruz’s Kontra Kino Orchestra. “It was composed of several musicians from Germany, the United Kingdom and the Philippines—including Brezel Göring, Bing Austria and Mlou Matute.”
In true Pinoy fashion, guests were enticed to belt out songs in Sexmoan KTV, a videoke bar set within the installation space.
Dela Cruz likewise dared intrepid guests (who were blindfolded) to get a haircut from him. “I did a few haircuts at my own place that we called F for Fake News Barbershop,” he related.“Panalo! (Winner!) Everyone was raving about the event.”
The shindig, which opened with his 2006 film “Rugby Boyz,” featured a dozen of his works in the retro, including “Aswang” (2017), “Aklat ng Bagyo at Dilim” (2012), “Lata at Tsinelas” (2004) and “Alaala ng Madaling Araw” (1996).
Also in the Oberhausen fest, Dela Cruz curated a collection of 60-second short films called “Nightmares of the Sun,” under the aegis of “The One Minutes.”
Dela Cruz asked filmmakers from the Philippines, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and Thailand to “visualize their daily nightmares.”
From the International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, “Nightmares of the Sun” will proceed to different cities in Europe (Amsterdam) and Asia (Shanghai).
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