Ninja from Manila
Raffy’s son Donut is dying and his final wish is to be a ninja just like his favourite show, Space Ninja Maxx. He flies Donut to Japan where he makes a deal with Takeshi, a ninja master. Takeshi trains Donut physically and mentally to be a ninja while Raffy learns to cook Japanese beef bowls working in Takeshi’s restaurant. Donut tries to perfect the vanishing technique of Super Ninja Maxx but fails.
Takeshi’s final lesson: Ninjas work in the shadows and do their mission with precision, never fearing death. This speech echoes throughout scenes of Donut
prepping for his scheduled surgery. Time passes. Raffy has perfected a recipe in his own restaurant. Behind him is Donut dressed as a Ninja. Donut tells him that he has perfected the vanishing technique. Donut asks him to close his eyes and promises that this time, it’ll work. Raffy enters zen mode as he hears the sounds of waterfalls.
When he opens his eyes, Donut is gone. His son has finally become the Ninja he always wanted.
I grew up without seeing much of my father because he worked abroad to support our family. I was forced to grow up when my mom had cancer. I became the man of the house while I struggled with college. I blamed my father for everything wrong with my life. Looking back, I now have a better understanding of his sacrifices. Instead of being home with us, he worked odd jobs becoming a hero no one knew, working in the shadows without reward or recognition. Just like a ninja. In Ninja From Manila, a father makes his son’s wish come true: to be a ninja. He too learned to be a ninja, mentally readying himself for the biggest challenge in his life, the death of his son. The situation is absurd. The events are absurd. But at its core is a tragic yet heartfelt story. Quoting Taika Waititi: When the atmosphere seems tense and uncomfortable is the moment we feel the need to laugh most. The best comedy has tragedy behind it. It’s how I cope with tragedy and how my characters cope with theirs.
Miko Livelo is a Filipino filmmaker whose first film, Blue Bustamante (2013, Osaka Asian Film Festival) is about a father who accidentally becomes the blue suit actor in a Sentai Tokusatsu (like Power Rangers). Using humour and live action superhero aesthetics, he created a fresh take on Filipino migrant workers without melodrama. His short, In the Name of Ultimate Warrior (2014, QCinema) is about a kid’s love for wrestling. After establishing Punchkick, he made his most popular digital series, Tanods (2015) about a bunch of misfits working as the neighbourhood watch. His filmmaking is based on his personal experiences wrapped in humour, family and love for Japanese Tokukatsu shows.
School teacher turned film producer, Alemberg ANG’s filmmaking is shaped by his passion for socio-civic issues, and Philippine arts and literature. His films have travelled extensively to festivals in Cairo, Warsaw, Tokyo, Torino and others. He was invited to the UNESCO International Meeting of Independent Producers, Rotterdam Lab, Berlinale Talents, Talents Tokyo, and SEAFIC. His projects have participated at Cinemart, Locarno Open Doors, Tribeca Film Institute Network, HAF, and APM. His most recent projects are Holy Craft, awarded Docs-in-Progress award at Cannes Docs and Some Nights I Feel Like Walking, which won the SEAFIC Prize and was selected for Cannes Cinéfondation's Atelier.
vy/ac Productions aims to produce films that are sensitive to the ethical handling of third world issues while giving a voice to cultural minorities. It has tackled various advocacies such as violence against women, LGBTQ rights, mental health and social justice. These productions won local and international awards such as the Golden Award at the Cairo International Film Festival, Best in Diversity at the James Burkes Global Marketing Awards and NHK Tokyo Prize. The company participated at Cinemart, HAF, APM, Cannes Cinefondation Atelier, Locarno Open Doors and Tribeca Film Institute Network. Its current production, Hello, Stranger, shot completely during quarantine, has amassed a total of 9 million collective views, and is now streaming on YouTube.