Viddsee is a smartphone application that is downloadable for and features innumerable short films from all over the world, including the Philippines. Whether it’s a good laugh you’re looking for, or a moment to just relax, watching Viddsee videos is definitely a good alternative for all the reading your eyes are so used to. Here’s our top five!
1. Taya – This short film won the Audience Choice Award, as well as the Special Jury Prize, in Cinemalaya 2013. It is only eight minutes long but tastefully juxtaposes adult realties against child musings. It follows the life of a young boy who moves to a new neighborhood. As a child, he tries hard to adjust to his new surroundings and later on discovers that all he needs is to go out and play with newfound friends. The simplicity of the children’s joy is both touching and unsettling when contrasted to the different problems the adults in the community face. Political undertones are also present in the video; there are scenes that cover struggles most middle class city folk only hear of in the comfort of school desks or living room sofas: housing demolitions, tumults with authorities, goons and guns, and street killings, to name a few. It isn’t a video to watch if you’re looking for something light and easy to absorb as the video is loaded with allusions, symbolisms, and jarring parallels. Nevertheless, the poignant scenes that focus solely on the children playing and later on reuniting are enough to remind one of innocence and simplicity that are hopefully not yet lost.
2. Breakfast with Lolo – In just five minutes, this video will kindle in you the sudden urge to remember a fond memory. It will have you tenderly relive an endearing moment between you and someone you deeply appreciate. It is short but a wide array of emotions is covered, such as joy, excitement, gratitude, and even grief. In portraying these varied emotions, it succeeds in being a heartwarming and touching film. The scenes are short but tender, without sacrificing impact and connection with the audience. The way the lolo’s eyes brighten, the way he hastily runs toward the car just to get away, the mixture of hesitation and excitement etched on the grandson’s face when he decides to drive –– all of this makes for a video that focuses purely on the intensity of moments, without need of deep dialogue, or obvious humor, or any other trick. Its strength is in its subtlety. Here, here is a moment with my lolo. As the video ends, the reality of death poses upon us viewers the unavoidable questions that are usually skirted over: with whom do we want to spend the simple things in life with? This question is also coupled with: do we even make ourselves available for such opportunities whenever they are presented to us? “Tara,” as the grandson said.
3. A Rite of Passage – Buckets of tears were shed while watching this video. Tears from too much laughter. This video is best to watch after a really bad recitation, or after the teacher suddenly cancels voluntary recitation and you have read absolutely nothing. It could also do the job of lifting off whatever burden rests on your shoulders from possibly biting off more than you can chew, as the video goes, there’s a separate table for all the supot. Apologies for the language, but the video does tackle male circumcision by shining comical light on the matter. The humor is subtle, although once detected, it instantly becomes the glaring strength of the video. From the name of the characters to the name of the barangay, the director obviously leaves nothing to chance. Each detail, no matter how small, is well thought of and properly placed. Humorous as it is, it still aptly portrays dominant associations with male circumcision: a test of masculinity, a rite of passage to being a ‘‘true’’ man, an initiation of sorts, the welcoming to the world of ‘‘manhood.’’
4. Steamed Bun – Unplanned encounters and the unlikeliest of friendships really make for a memorable experience. Such is the focus of this video, where a teenage boy develops a surprising friendship with an unsuspecting, wide-eyed, curious, and jolly little boy. They discover that they both share feelings of rejection and failure, but it is precisely this shared experience that allows them to bond over something as simple as siopao. They exchange stories while eating siopao. The moment is simple and honest; the little boy smiles and jokes while he eats, and the teenager’s facial expressions soften upon seeing the little boy cheer up. The video is light and very easily relatable. It isn’t too hard for us to remember a particular memory which involves a surprising friendship that has started in unsuspecting ways: perhaps a shared table while cramming in Starbucks, random encounters while doing the most mundane of things ––perusing the grocery aisles, waiting in line for photocopying, running errands for a very angry mother ––and really, all other mundane things that suddenly seem special. Steamed Bun is a good reminder for anyone who is too busy to recognize these encounters for what they are: opportunities to pause, be present, and be grateful.
5. Papa Jesus – This video is just four minutes long, but already the weight of its message resonates with one of the greatest novels from the 19th century, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Timeless is the conversion experience of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who steals while he is on parole, and instead of being punished, he is shown grace and forgiveness by the bishop. While the grace extended to Jean Valjean is deliberate and intentional, the grace one sees in this short film Papa Jesus is accidental and mistaken. This video encapsulates the beauty in encounters that come as pure surprise. The child’’ s face lights up with joy and all fear is cast away upon seeing the stranger. The encounter is short yet powerful, in a single moment the conversion experience is portrayed with only candid expressions ––the way the child smiles, the way his skin crinkles at the corner of his eyes, the way his eyes twinkle, the way the stranger precariously hands over the bottle of ketchup ––all to culminate in a gesture of kindness. This four-minute video covers varied and important matters ––the weight of crime, the rarity of grace, the power of decisions ––all with surprising lightness. P