Perhaps the greatest mistake we can make as a society and as individuals is to not learn from our mistakes. Luckily for us in the Cordillera, story-telling runs in our veins. We are fortunate to have parents and grandparents who are more than willing to impart their wisdom to us. So when we came across 1941: Cordillera Iti Ima Ti Gubat, we knew we found a story that was worth telling.
In this action-packed film, we are transported to the Japanese Occupation in the Philippines. In the middle of an ongoing war, we find a Japanese General, performed by Mark Philipp Neumann, and a local school teacher, performed by Dexter Jaimie Tampoa, in a complex relationship involving not only their hearts but also their loyalties. But do not be fooled, this is not a love story.
This is the story of a community fighting for freedom. This is the story of men, women, and children, fighting for the land they all knew to be home. When it comes to protecting one’s home, Cordillerans are relentless and are willing to do anything to ensure the safety of their family. This is the Cordilleran spirit that has been forged over many many generations. A warrior’s spirit. Every aspect of this film took the Cordilleran warrior’s spirit into consideration. In doing so, you can feel the beat of the drums, the intensity of metal hitting metal, the reality of firing gunshots as the sounds echo across the mountains and valleys of the north.
This is the story of those who came before us. As we live the freedoms we are afforded now, we can only hope that this film will serve as a looking glass for us. Not just to realize the bravery of our people, but to also understand that we are all humans: living, breathing, loving humans. This is one of the primary narratives we hope to deliver. While the realities of war cannot be erased, nor should it, we must examine not just events, but people too. The Japanese have been vilified in countless films and are always portrayed as bad or evil. But there are many stories of kindness too. And in stitching the stories we want to capture not just the suffering, but healing too.
The film would not be complete without ensuring that it represents the characters in the story and that it gives justice to the piece. Direk Jianlin went the extra mile and translated the material in Kankanaey and Japanese as well. This is no easy feat. And to be able to enjoy the narrative in these languages is a gift we must treasure. 1941: Cordillera Iti Ima Ti Gubat truly inspires through the depiction of the nuances of a Japanese-influenced past. And it also awakens the Cordilleran spirit that may have gone dormant in many of us.
Sine Cordillera, Be Unrivaled Productions, and Direk Jianlin Floresca invite you to support the film 1941: Cordillera Iti Ima Ti Gubat – a film Co-written, filmed, and edited in the Cordillera but produced for the world.
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