Review Capsules

by Neel Chaudhuri
Source: Cinemas of Asia

Boundary is a remarkably tense film, with an opening that feels distinctly like something out of Beckett or Buñuel: a vagrant Limuel wanders about, fiddles with his shoe, eats a banana and then, shortly after, there is a fleeting image of a dead bird in the water. Through the rest of the film, director Benito Bautista maintains a steady hold in a drama of unsteady moments. The first half is dominated by seemingly mundane exchanges between Limuel and his passenger, and yet, I found it as unsettling as the terrifying denouement. The dialogue is sparse and there are pregnant pauses before the characters answer each other. There are hints and red herrings but you always sense – in their shifting glances and the manner in which they measure each other – that one man will betray the other. But who will betray who?

Review: Boundary
by Vincenzo Tagle
Source: Film Misery

Boundary’s biggest strength lies in its storytelling. San Francisco-based Filipino filmmaker Benito Bautista clearly knows how to tell a compelling narrative as he has written and directed a contemporary, thrilling movie that keeps you at the edge of your seat. But more than just being a great suspense film, it also provides a sharp commentary on the underlying social issues that plague gritty Manila.

Cinemanila 2011: Boundary Review
by Oggs Cruz

In the end, Bautista has crafted a firm and suspenseful thriller whose clever twist in the end puts both perspective and pertinence to its constricting but intriguingly exciting process.

The Long Dark Journey
by Philbert Dy

Boundary is a film of tremendous ingenuity. It begins with an odd note, establishing the strangeness of the world at large. Then it moves the action to a taxi. And inside this confined space, the movie does miraculous things. It explores the treacherous ground of human connection, and builds an atmosphere of tension that consumes every single inch of the frame. The story ends up in familiar territory, but the trip there is more than worth it.

Review: Serenade
by Jay Weissberg

The format may seem familiar, but Benito Bautista’s “Serenade” is an infectiously winning example of the “Buena Vista Social Club”-style docu, involving a fading musical form and a group of older men who are its last practitioners. Harana is a type of serenade native to the Philippines, and classical guitarist Florante Aguilar goes searching for remaining “haranistas,” men in rural areas who were hired to sing to young ladies from beneath their windows. Lovely music, the bittersweet melancholy of a dying tradition, and an irresistible romanticism make this a fest charmer.

Source: Seattle International Film Festival

Director Benito Bautista’s film is a treasure chest of exquisitely romantic Filipino music sweeping these beautiful performers from real-life courting to the concert hall to stardom as the nostalgia of the song tradition grips the country. More than just a chronicle of the once lost art of the serenade, Harana recalls a time when human connection was prized above digital communication. This is the ultimate SIFF 2013 date movie!

Source: LA Asian Pacific Film Fest

HARANA is a serenade in itself. It is a film that proclaims its love and longing for a form of music and an archaic tradition, and beams a light on to it like a Philippine summer moonlight for all the world to see and hear. Bautista’s exquisite film creates stars of its elder haranistas, recalling Buena Vista Social Club and its unearthing of Cuban talent previously unheard outside its country. Their stories and their voices is at the heart of the film and Aguilar’s respect, dedication and reverence for the music is what guides it. Bautista’s film captures Aguilar’s pursuit with equal adoration for the music and fills it with memorable performances giving the songs and the performers the opportunity to completely enchant and delight the audience. – See more at:

Award-winning ‘Harana’ wows SF Bay Area Viewers
by Mila de Guzman
Source: Global Nation, Inquirer.Net

There’s a reason the film “Harana” won the Audience Award at the Center for Asian American Media Film Festival in this city. The audience simply loved the poignant documentary on a vanishing Philippine musical tradition.

In fact, advance word of the film’s power had the line of people waiting to see it snaking around the block in front of the Kabuki Theater during its Sunday, March 17 screening.

Michael Magnaye, a documentary filmmaker who studied filmmaking at Stanford University is effusive with his accolades for the movie: “The power of this film is its ability to bring together an audience from many generations, who came together for entertainment, inspiration, and nostalgia.”

Harana Stuns Cinemalaya
by Joel Shepard
Source: Joel’s Blog

The inter-generational audience for the sold-out screening was floored. You could hear many older audience members quietly singing along to songs they remembered from their childhood; and the kids got completely swept up in the romance of it all. At the end there was a spontaneous standing ovation for the filmmakers and producers, the first one I’ve seen at Cinemalaya.

Cinemalaya Capsules
by Tablestretcher

Who says that Festival Pass (I know, I know) is not worth its price? The simple search for Haranistas becomes a reliving of a forgotten past. Bautista doesn’t stay contented with what he found; he goes further by bringing his find to places due their talents, assuming a self appointed position of a champion, chronicling a beautiful part of history now gone extinct.

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