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directed by Raya Martin
France/Philippines/Germany/Netherlands 2009


A mother (Tetchie Agbayani) and her teenage son (Sid Lucero) who flee to the forest in anticipation of the American invasion. Finding a long abandoned shack, they set about making it livable and depending on the land to survive. The son explores the forest and rivers hunting for food. The boy's curiosity about what lies at the other end of the forest introduces an element of tension in the dependent relationship between the mother and son that comes to the surface when he brings a sick young woman (Alessandra de Rossi, THE MAID) into their household. As the girl gets better and forms a relationship with the son, the mother grows ill and dies. Life continues on in the jungle as man and wife raise their son on myths and cautionary tales to keep him from straying too far, but signs of American occupation encroaching into the jungle may be more of a threat than witches or snakes.

The second film in director Raya Martin's trilogy about the occupations of the Philippines thorughout history - the first being A SHORT STORY ABOUT THE INDIO NACIONAL, INDEPENDENCIA is shot in 4:3 and in sepia, mimicking a silent film style in camera technique - if not its matrixed Dolby Surround track - and in its entirely studio-bound set (in which each and every shot of the jungle from long shots to details is designed) rather than the ample real jungle locations available in the Philippines. The director has spoken of an "absence of identity and true freedom" associated with the American occupation, describing the film as portraying an "alternate resistance of the times, one that moves away from a history of armed struggle and delves deeper into the opposition of forces, a survival of human existence and a liberation of the true Filipino identity." The mother and son do not so much return to the ways of their ancestors so much as adapt their idea of them based on sometimes tall tales about the old ways, and the son and his wife raise their child without mention of an alternate existence outside the jungle. The antiquated cinematographic style may call attention to itself, but the studio settings enhance the stagey, intimate scope of the drama set in nature. The climax is a case of man versus nature, but the ending itself is prefigured in the the film's intermission which takes the form of a newsreel about the Americans keeping order in wartime Philippines.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 21 April 2010 (France)

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DVD Review: Second Run DVD - Region 0 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Second Run DVD

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:13:51 (4% PAL speedup)

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.46 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Filipino/Tagalog Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Second Run DVD

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Excerpt from 'Independencia 86: The Lost Film of Arturo Madlangbayan' re-edited by Miko Revereza and Raya Martin (4:3; 7:39)
• Behind the Scenes (4:3; 15:56)
• Short film 'Track Projections' (4:3; 5:39)
• Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 2:29)

• Original Screenplay (.pdf; 51 pages)
• 'Independencia Theme' by Lutgardo Labad (.mp3; 2:25)

• Essay booklet by critic Antoine Thirion.

DVD Release Date: August 11th, 2014

Chapters 12



Second Run's high bitrate dual-layer disc looks rather softish, but this is presumably part of the master and the intended look (although the film is in black and white, it was shot on Fuji color film so presumably went through much digital grading to look like a silent film, or at least many of them in their current state of preservation). Although this is a 2013 film, the end credits sport a Dolby Surround logo; as such, the disc's Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is presumably faithful to original mix (more so when audited with Pro Logic engaged on your receiver). The optional English subtitles are without any spelling or grammatical errors.


The behind the scenes featurette in which the director discusses the importance of casting actors appropriate for the characters (not only in terms of physical appearance but actors whose styles are not well established with the audience), as well as the importance of his collaboration with cinematographer Jeanne Lapoirie (8 WOMEN) - who he met at a Marseilles film festival - as well as his other regular collaborators. The actors also discusses shooting a jungle location in the studio, and the featurette also also provides views of the sets and the filming in color.

The disc also includes a trailer for the film, a silent short film from 2007, as well as a re-edited excerpt from "Independencia 86", a video piece by Arturo Madlangbayan presented here in the context of the Filipino independent filmmaking scene repressed by dictator Marcos and soon supplanted by a mainstream exploitation cinema (more homegrown than that the sixties and seventies when the country and talent served as a backdrop for low budget American film fodder). The booklet provides some much needed background on Martin's previous films, as well as the motifs and symbols in INDEPENDENCIA as they figure into his body of work. DVD-ROM extras include the film's screenplay in PDF format (about twenty pages shorter than the actual film since there is little dialogue) and the film's theme music in MP3.

  - Eric Cotenas



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Region 0 - PAL

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