• Allen Esteban

Four award-winning films to stream this December

It's the last month of 2020, and what a way to end this hellacious year than watching topnotch films! Mark your calendars folks as here are four award-winning Pinoy movies streaming on Netflix this December.


Kalel, 15 (2019)

December 09

A film by Jun Robles Lana

Starring Elijah Canlas, Eddie Garcia, Jaclyn Jose


Kalel knows a thing or two about secrets. His mother has an ongoing affair with a married man. His sister had undergone an abortion at a young age. And to top it all, he is the son of a priest. He grew up being told to be ashamed and apologize for sins he did not commit. Insecure about his past and upbringing, he winds up recklessly searching for love and validation from complete strangers he meets online. When, at age 15, he is diagnosed with HIV, Kalel thinks it will just be another secret that he has to keep. After all, he has mastered showing a carefree exterior while keeping his emotional and physical pain bottled up inside. This charade allows him to enjoy whatever precarious balance in life he can manage. But Kalel’s already fragile existence comes unhinged. Without any moral compass to restrain him, he is now in danger of sliding into a life of destruction and pain. (Kalel, 15. FB Page)


Reviews "Kalel, 15 is powerful."


"It is perhaps Lana’s best work, one where he is required to exercise care and caution in his depiction of a sensitive subject matter. The film is quiet and elegantly shot, but it speaks volumes of the chaos that lie at the heart of a callous society that thrives in duplicity. It demands attention without succumbing to sensationalizing the topic. More importantly, it is fuelled by respect as reflected by a depiction of a teenager not as a victim, but as a human being driven by needs." — Oggs Cruz, Rappler


"There is anger in this film, but it's the productive kind of anger. It's the kind of anger that leads into real insight, the kind of seething rage that leads to clarity. Kalel exists within a societal context that refuses to acknowledge the reality of sex. This film systematically and painfully draws out the consequences, funnelling it all through the experience of this one kid who deserves a chance, but is never going to get it." — Philbert Dy


Bwakaw (2012)

December 16

A film by Jun Robles Lana

Starring Eddie Garcia, Armida Siguion-Reyna, Joey Paras, Soxy Topacio, Rez Cortez, Bibeth Orteza, Beverly Salviejo. Luz Valdez, Gardo Versoza


Bwakaw is about growing old and everyone’s fear of growing old alone. Rene is a gay man who comes out of the closet at age 70. Ailing in his twilight years, he thinks it is now too late for love, even companionship, and that all there is to look forward to is Death. His only companion is Bwakaw, a stray dog that hangs around his house and follows him wherever he goes. As Rene waits for the day of his death, he gets the surprise of his life when it is Bwakaw who suddenly falls ill. In his struggle to get Bwakaw cured, Rene finds comfort in the most unlikely person: Sol, a tricycle driver who helps him bring Bwakaw to the vet and befriends him. Buoyed by Sol’s friendship, Rene starts living. Little by little he discovers simple joys. One day, he finally decides to make a move on Sol. The revelation that Rene is gay and has feelings for him surprises and disgusts Sol. In the meantime, Bwakaw’s condition gets worse. Not even Rene’s ancient miraculous statue of Jesus Christ can save Bwakaw. But Bwakaw’s death makes a difference. Rene finds a new appreciation for life. He decides to unpack the things that he has already willed to other people and make his house more inhabitable. He is, after all, still alive. (Cinemalaya)


Reviews "...the film gracefully blends melodrama, broad and lower-key comedy, and honestly earned sentiment while making poignant observations about old age, emotional solitude, romantic longing and friendship." — The Hollywood Reporter


"...Bwakaw is equal parts broad, sitcom-ish comedy and macabre gallows humor. If nothing else, it feels entirely, effervescently original." — John Semley, Slant Magazine


Apocalypse Child (2017)

December 20

A film by Mario Cornejo & Monster Jimenez

Starring Sid Lucero, Ana Abad Santos, RK Bagatsing, Archie Alemania, Annicka Dolonius, Gwen Zamora


Ford, a surfing instructor from the Philippines has been told his whole life that he’s the son of Francis Ford Coppola. He’s wasted his youth waiting as his mother petitions the director to acknowledge Ford as his son. But as the surfing season ends, he’s forced to confront his past actions, inactions, and the stories of his life. (Apocalypse Child website)


Review “Mario Cornejo’s Apocalypse Child is astonishing in its calmness. It is mature in its approach to drama, revealing only little bits and pieces of a backstory but enunciating the pains that resoundingly result from it.” — Oggs Cruz, Rappler


Patay na si Hesus (2016)

December 20

A film by Victor Villanueva

Starring Jaclyn Jose, Chai Fonacier, Melde Montañez, Vincent Viado, Mailes Kanapi


When Iyay (Jaclyn Kose) learns that Hesus, her ex-husband, has died, she gathers her children and tells them they are going on a road trip from Cebu City to Dumaguete. No ifs or buts about it: they are attending their father's funeral. Her children – Hubert, who has Down Syndrome; Jude, a lovesick trans man; and Jay, who is living the bum life – join her with varying degrees of reluctance as she drives them in her extra-mini mini-van. One unplanned detour comes after another, each pushing this family closer to confronting the past and figuring out how to enjoy the ride to an uncertain future. (Patay na si Hesus FB Page)


Review “There’s visual comedy, hilarious banter, slapstick, and absurdity to create a dynamic film that’s funny and yet still touching from beginning to end... Director Victor Villanueva and screenwriters Moira Lang and Fatrick Tabada managed to build a crazy world but authentically human and unmistakably Filipino. The usage of Cebuano is a wonderful touch to remind us that there’s so much more to see and experience in our country but our pain and our joys are all the same. Patay na si Hesus is one of the funniest Filipino films I’ve seen and I’m so happy to have been on that trip with them." Wanggo Gallaga, Interaksyon

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