Verdict: Essential Viewing

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 4.00 (6 ratings)

Alternative title: Forever Loved

Genre: Documentary, Experimental

Writer/Director: Christopher Gozum

Cast: Dindo Salinas, Sharon Manibpel, Joselito Alejo, Joseph Peruda, Inday Pongan Malik, Christopher Carvajal, Rolando Blanco, Joseph Henry Espiritu, Mark Louie Rojas, Jo Paredes, Rovimar Vinzon, Rannie Tomalon, Vonnel Mirandilla

Synopsis: A neophyte migrant Filipino worker from the Pangasinan province in the northern Philippines arrives at a bustling city in the Middle East in search of his missing wife who first came to the Arab country three years earlier. While searching for her, he has brief and transient encounters with his fellow Filipino migrant workers. He listens to the testimonies and epiphanies about their present lives in exile as well as bits and pieces of the memories of their former lives from the motherland they all had left behind. The protagonist also meets another lonely foreign worker, a beautiful Malaysian woman with whom he has a passionate affair.

Combining fiction and documentary, specifically interviews of eight Filipino migrant workers, along with voice-over narration of various texts translated in the Pangasinan language – selected passages from the Holy Bible, selected poetry about exile, and selected lines from classical noh plays, the film creates an intimate portrait of the Filipino diaspora in the Middle East. The film’s title Lawas Kan Pinabli is based from a popular folk love song in the Pangasinan province with the same title.

Trailer (link): http://vimeo.com/31755415

Review:

4.0          Noli Manaig (Closely Watched Frames)

Forever Loved, in the end, may well be the most comprehensive, most textured, and most insightful study on the Filipino OCW. Perhaps such a saga of a people’s exodus is bound to unfold in many more unforeseen ways and will never end. Gozum deserves to be commended for going against the grain, forwarding a perspective the rest of us aren’t prepared to entertain.” (Read full review)

Capsules:

4.0          Richard Bolisay (Lilok Pelikula)

Forever Loved is more than 3 hours. The interviews can still be tightened, but they’re fine with me as they are. I love unnecessary details. Also, its anthropological study is sweeping. People talk about their lives and this guy listens to them, silently. It’s worth everything. And the grandest thing of all? Gozum’s visual style. Bergman, Antonioni, Paradjanov. Name every fricking art filmmaker. Lovely to bits. Forever Loved is imperfect. But damn, the closing shots are unforgettable.” (From his Twitter page)

4.0          Skilty Labastilla (Young Critics Circle – Film Desk)

“Chris Gozum is a poetic ethnographer, capturing majestic images of the Arabian Desert and interspersing them with eye-opening/heartbreaking interviews of OFWs. The actor, I felt, was miscast (he looks too bagets for the role) but I admit his awkwardness (and inopportune nodding in reaction shots) actually adds to the beautiful strangeness of the whole proceeding.”

4.0          Eduardo Dayao (Piling Piling Pelikula)

“A deconstruction of the myth and glamor of OFWs and an offhand commentary on the treachery and corruption endemic in the Filipino psyche and soul. The interviews could be tightened a considerable deal and I really wish Chris would. But every time the art intrudes you start to not mind. As per usual with Christopher Gozum, it’s the imagery, more than the poetry, that carries poetic heft. The part with the geologist is superb.”

4.0          Don Jaucian (Pelikula Tumblr)

“OFWs are not all heroes. They’re also swindling, fabricating scumbags. Part chronicles of the lives of OFWs, part treatise on the Filipino Dream.”

4.0          Epoy Deyto (Kawts Kamote)

“It was a surprise. Lovely. It showed a lot of things that were never shown on any films about OFWs.”