K'NA THE DREAMWEAVER (Ida Anita Del Mundo, 2014)
Official Entry, New Breed Category, Cinemalaya X
Watching K'NA THE DREAMWEAVER is like watching a gorgeously shot travelogue. The debut feature film of Ida Anita Del Mundo (Doy Del Mundo's daughter) weaves an uncompromising, compelling tale of love and destiny set against the hauntingly beautiful Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, beckoning us to enter a world rarely seen on film.
As a child, K'na (Hezel Ann Sulan) is already exposed to the intricate T'boli tradition of weaving. As she matures into a beautiful, young lady (Mara Lopez), K'na is guided and prepared by her grandmother Be Lampey (Erlinda Villalobos) to be their clan's next dreamweaver. Amidst their peaceful residence off the waters of Lake Sebu, constant threat from their mother tribe shakes the villagers. All of this, because of a generations-old betrayal that continues to haunt the lineage of Be Lampey.
In the majesty of their humble abode, love blossomed between K'na and Silaw (RK Bagatsing), an abaca farmer. For a while it was good, and fleeting, like the world around them vanished in an instant. But conflict arose because K'na is of royalty, being the chieftain Lobong Ditan's (Nonie Buencamino) daughter. And when opportunity presented itself for peace, K'na is offered as a future wife to Kagis (Alex Medina), the son of the opposing tribe's leader (Bembol Roco).
Writer-Director Ida Anita Del Mundo understood simplicity in her storytelling. There are no grand plot twists, outrageous dialogue or deus ex machina to her narrative which allowed further immersion into the rich culture of the T'boli, where tradition is paramount and subservience to their elders is indelible. The various colors of the abaca and the meanings they represent are discussed in detail, and in later scenes in the film we witness as the strands of abaca become characters themselves. They take a shape of their own in the story.
The changing of the season, the stillness of the water, and even the vivid colors of the flowers and lilies are all expertly captured by Lee Briones' eye for detail. To complement that si Toym Imao's award-winning production design for the film, which brought to life a whole village steeped in history. Del Mundo knew how to utilize her environment as elements. Nature did the storytelling.
Mara Lopez shines as if a real-life princess torn between her heart and her duty. Nonie Buencamino avoided the pitfalls of portraying a father who has to impose marriage on her daughter, and in doing so has created a figure that is loving, without losing authority. Even Erlinda Villalobos as Be Lampey is remarkable, subtle in her ways and projecting her character's wisdom with grace.
I immediately liked K'NA THE DREAMWEAVER because of its unpretentious attack on a cultural tale. It is simple, straight, and yet arrestingly beautiful. It takes you on its arms and almost lulls you into a dream, and by the time it ends, it leaves an unforgettable poignant impression worthy of a second experience.