Robots. Transparent phones and iPads. Holographic displays on public trains. Mechanical farming. Dystopian Philippines. And again, robots. All that and more can be found in ANi (The Harvest), the first-ever full-length science-fiction film entry to Cinemalaya in its 15 years to date. Unfortunately the marvels stop there as ANi, while successful in bringing a taste of the future, loses itself almost entirely in telling the story of the orphan Mithi and the titular robot he meets.
There’s much to be desired when it comes to visual effects in Philippine cinema but ANi shows just how far the industry has come in that department. Throughout most of the film, the VFX put into ANi the robot is flawless—provided by VFX producer Sixto Del Rosario—though it slowly begins to fail as the film heads to a finish. It’s difficult to imagine a finale, in fact, because of all the storylines ANi introduces, replaces, and brings back. Every scene is slow-paced that audiences can only wait for what resolution, if any, will come.
Delivering Cinemalaya’s first-ever full-length sci-fi movie came with a big risk because of how unfamiliar Filipino films are with this genre. So it’s a worthy commendation for directing duo Kim Zuñiga and Sandro Del Rosario.
For those who wish to witness the milestone, by all means do, but prepare for 120 minutes of prolonged storytelling and do your best to keep up with the adventures of Mithi and ANi.
Catch all the films in #Cinemalaya15 from Aug. 2–13 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and select Ayala and Vistas cinemas nationwide.