Posted in Spring Film Festival: Movie Reviews

Book of Love : A Review


Jiao Ye at the Casino

This is the second sequel of Finding Mr. Right and obviously I haven’t watch the first film. To start my review, I just wanted to tell you know that I wasn’t at all impressed with the cast since there was no eye catcher. Though I adore how the two main characters were the complete opposite of those common love stories wherein a beautiful girl and a handsome boy matched. Next, considering it as in mandarin plus the transition was very quick , I really don’t got the first scene particularly the beginning where the leading actress was kicked out by her land lord and there’s a scene where in she rode in a motorcycle and kicking butts then she turned around beco

Jiao Ye and her friends at the Casino

ming casino employee.


Honestly, the first part of the film makes me feel dizzy editing and the transitions of the scenes especially the part when the leading actress was at the casino. However, I’m still amazed how the director and writers play and worked with the location and interaction of the two main characters since they were apart from each other. The cinematography was quite well, there were a few interesting cinematography that I liked, how the two crossed paths on foreign land and interacting with the imaginary person they perceived from the letters.

Two Elderly with Director Xue : Wu Yanshu (left) , Director Xue (middle) and Paul Chun (right)

The movie felt real since it has many emotional failures from both of the main characters, although the two have never met they express feelings through the letter that provide the groundwork for better relationship. Their love might be sophisticated here, but what truly touched me and makes me cry was the elderly couple that the leading actor was trying to con . You will really get a love lesson from the two senior.


84 Charing Cross Road Book Cover

Overall this movie has a better story, than the other Chinese film that I have watched. The relationship between the characters was deeper. It looks like it will remain in our memory for a long time. And as a person who enjoys reading books and loves literature, this film really got me hard. The story telling device of the film was a transparent way to get the two main characters together. Keeping them apart was a mixed bag; their individual stories are given a strong focus than their relationship. For me, for this story and these characters, was not simply effective. It looks like there isn’t really a story theme, emotion or a string that pushes them together beyond the book; 84, Charing Cross Road.



Still I will gave this film 3 out of 5 star, the actors and the production values are better than average. The editing and cinematography can get occasionally hyperactive but it’s never too distracting. The music and sound effects was OK. The film was actually a well-constructed promotion of the need to go out to find love, and more importantly, self-fulfillment through love’s many forms. I will still recommend this film.     3-out-of-5


by: Omido , Christine Jane BABRC 4-2

Posted in Spring Film Festival: Movie Reviews

The Wolf Totem Teaches Not Entertains

by Andrea Montalban


It’s cute, it’s cuddly and oh so fluffy well at least that’s how Wolf Totem seemed at first, until you get to the part where a mass killing occurs, suicides happen, people go crazy and it’s not just another Asian film after all (or maybe that’s proof that it is proudly Asian?). But don’t let the cute and gruesome distract you from this story’s message, which you may have missed if you fell asleep from the lulling opening credits. Well I won’t blame you because I also yawned while waiting for the movie to start.

Wow I’m a confusing reviewer! And you’re probably all like “So it gets cookies for mixing fluff with gore but it’s boring? How the heck did that happen?”, forgive me but that’s Wolf Totem,– a story  that took place in China when student Chen Zhen volunteered to assist shepherds in inner Mongolia but later learned about the relationship between men and wolves as two different species trying to survive in a single environment – in a nutshell for me. Now if you want a longer synopsis and other details about the film you can Google it and learn how it’s from a semi-autobiography novel, directed by Jean-Jacques Annau, and so on. On with the review!

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Clearly, from the pictures from the film, the cinematography is a winning hundred over a hundred. China’s beautiful plains and hills were featured in almost every shot or transition, even the sky shot (which looked really realistic) during the storm was superb. The establishing shots will all amaze you, however visually astounding scenery displayed over and over can be boring, viewers wish for a plot development and unfortunately, the scenery no matter how breath-taking could not make up for the movie’s lack thereof. Still, aside from the scenery the movie is also a pleasure to other senses with the great musical accompaniment in corresponding scenes; the joyful opening for the positive outlook Chen Zhen has in the start of his journey, the heart throbbing drums for the storm and the movie’s climax, and the sorrowful strings for the lives, both human and animal, that were sacrificed. Personally my ‘wow’ scene and the one that put my hundred to the cinematography is the frozen horse scene, it’s truly a wonder how the scene looked so grotesque and realistic you would want to research if that’s how a horse would look like if they died in the arctic waters, also the expressions of the horses, wide eyes, open mouth as if asking for mercy. It’s horrific but the creators surely put the desperation felt by the animals and those who cared for them into the screen and into the viewers.

A glimpse of the horse scene in ‘Wolf Totem’

Another thing that made this film amazing is the acting of the animals. Kudos to the trainers, staff and actors who worked patiently with them. Kudos most of all to the wolves and special effects that made this film amazing. You guys were an animal on cam!


     Now let us go to the plot, as I have mentioned earlier there is very little movement in the story. The hero stays in the village, learns about wolves, hero ends up being a burden, hero leaves and kidnapped cub is freed. As the movie ended all there was is frustration.

It was boring. Sure, the old culture of some of the Chinese was depicted in the scenes where they have to sacrifice wolf cubs in order to maintain balance, but there was never really an answer with the ending, there was not solution. Except that the wolves will suffer more. The end.

The film was like a documentary from Animal Planet and History Channel, which definitely do not hold people’s interest for more than thirty minutes, Wolf Totem lasted for two hours. It is a film for people with a passion for films that do not entertain well but teaches a lot.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Google, Animal Planet, History Channel, and I only used pictures from the movie as part of this review.

Posted in Spring Film Festival: Movie Reviews

Paint the town with ‘Red Amnesia’

by: Fathrize Liam S. Ceñedoza

As odd as movies can be, Red Amnesia can be counted as an odd film which will make you think twice about life. The movie contains scenes where you will question whether the things you are doing for a long time is really right or is it an illusion of right established by a changing society for the satisfaction of being a part of this ever shifting environment.

This 115 minutes movie started with a slow drama depicting a old woman’s life, Deng Meijuan portrayed by veteran actress Lu Zhong, building pressure and suspense throughout the movie. There is an uncomfortable sensation watching Deng do her daily routine comfortably. This builds the tension with the depiction of calm before a storm.

Deng’s routine includes her giving unwanted care for her first son, jun, and his family. her daughter-in-law openly shows her dislike of Deng’s habits. This is the depressing portrayal of reality that children neglects the parents after making and starting their own family. It shows the struggle of an old lady trying to fit in a society where she is not familiar with and a place where she has a house but is not quite her true home.


Another minor conflict in the movie is the life of Deng’s second son, Bing. As a homosexual, he is not quite accepted by his conventional mother but Deng is still concern and still takes care of Bing. Even though it is evident that Deng does not approve of her son’s lifestyle, her motherly instinct allows her to take care of him still. Director Wang Xiaoshuai did an amazing job with this.

The major conflict in this movie is the problem with the intruder. Not only her life is at take but also her image. Policemen and Deng’s sons do not believe her complains about telephone harassments and blaming her ‘hallucinations’ for her fantasy of having a stalker.This conflict was not taken seriously until Deng’s safety is at stake.


Another important message of the story is Deng’s affection for the unnamed young boy who helped her once on her errand. It led her to dream of him romantically due to lack of attention because she is recently widowed. It is quite disturbing considering the two and their age gap. It also shows how dangers are posted due to Deng’s intention being hospitable to the young boy. Her act of cooking meals for the boy symbolizes her desire desire of taking care of someone and failing thus giving it to other people, even to a stranger.


‘Red Amnesia’ has a theme that tackles not only an individual’s personal issues but also conflicts with family, politics, society and also with the culture and tradition that one holds. It shows the depiction of reality in a society of people you do not know but has a motive yo harm you and the vulnerability of an elderly in a place where they are left with no one to accompany them.

This is the kind of movie that will make you silent and hold on for the next scenes with solemn camera shots and feelings of being stalked. ‘Red Amnesia’ is a movie that talks about not only the elderly but also to the young ones and their life decisions that may affect their future according to their tainted past.


Posted in Spring Film Festival: Feature

Teach Me How To Art!

by: Thea Amor Alvarado

This year’s celebration of Lunar New Year, Shangri- La invites the people to visit China and to know more about their traditions and customs by witnessing the Chinese Painting Exhibit.

This is one of their main event, displaying from January 29 to 31, 2017, aside from the Chinese Music Concert, Pastel Painting Workshop and the Spring Film Festival that is made possible by Ateneo de Manila University, Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, and their sponsors.

Most of the painting symbolizes what China perceives to bring luck and fortune, such as roosters and others vary from landscapes to animals to something abstract. Some paintings depict the Chinese art, poetry and architecture leaving the impression of their origin to your imagination and creativity. Some of the paintings are random. According to Roger Santos, Vice President of the Art Association of the Philippines, Chinese art doesn’t mean that everything coincides with Chinese culture. As long as its art, anyone can express openly.

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Oil on acrylic and watercolor are some of the main instruments used for the artworks.  Everything is so intricate and pleasing to one’s eye that I happen not to notice how the time passes by as I go through every detail on every painting.

One particular painting that I liked is named “The Greatest Gift”, an artwork made by Albert Hamabad K. Libre III. It’s a girl dressed as if she’s to perform a dance but you can only see her back and no more than a quarter of her face looking slightly side faced. It is one of those artworks that you find and contemplate its denotation on your own.

For someone who can’t travel far, art serves as a key to remind and never forget not to lock up ideas, personalities, and changes in life.

Posted in Spring Film Festival: Movie Reviews

Red Amnesia: A Film To Remember


by: Thea Amor Alvarado

“Expect the unexpected.”

In celebration of the Chinese New Year, Wang Xiaoshuai’s Red Amnesia- a partaker of the 11th Spring Film Festival, is the embodiment of such quotation.

Red Amnesia is part of Wang’s trilogy films that everyone can enjoy without charge. Together with the other Spring Films- “Wolf Totem,” “A Complicated Story,” “Book of Love,” “Everybody’s Fine,” “Horseplay” and “Red Amnesia”, all you need to do is arrive an hour before the screening since the seats are limited.


It is a suspense thriller movie that focuses in the story of Deng, a widowed elder who keeps receiving anonymous phone calls and later finding out that her mysterious caller is someone from her remorseful past. She is living alone, content with what she has, independent and does not give up her family duties until satisfied enough to relax with her television and foot bath spa. Deng has two sons and a mother at a nursing home that she visits and brings home cooked meals everyday. This routine of hers starts to derail because of the occurrence of the calls where no one ever says anything on the other line. However, after a few more calls, she starts to hear breathing on the other end. She starts to think that her sins from when she was younger are haunting her.

A scene from Wang Xiaoshuai’s RED AMNESIA


The movie progresses as a teenage lad, another character, surfaced.  He is always wearing a black and blue striped shirt and continues to follow the old lady wherever she goes. This confused me as to whether he is in love with the old lady or is in a mission to kill her.

The plot develops and becomes clearer when the movie explained her reasons of guilt. Deng worked at a factory in the mountains where she and her family also live when a crisis caused the factory to be closed. That’s when problems arise as to what they will do for a living and how will they feed themselves. In addition to this, only one family can leave for Beijing where life is better. The choices are between the families of Deng or Zhao’s who is a close friend of hers and an ally in a movement against shutting the factory down. That time, Deng was pregnant with her second son and refuses to succumb to poverty so she used the movement to her advantage and leaked the information to the government saying only that Zhao was part of it. As a result, Deng’s family was chosen to be transferred in Beijing.


This is when the mysteries of the story start to unfold. The lad, a fugitive from murder and break-ins and who also kept on following and observing Deng appears to be the grandson of Zhao, fixed on revenge at first but ceased after experiencing the kindness of the elderly woman. I had to trace the dots backwards and start comprehending the flow of the story.

As the show nears to reaching its climax, you start to take in more of the story’s depth. The seasoned director Mr. Wang makes you understand but then forces you not to

accept the reasons that the plot is trying to serve you. The story abruptly ends at the death of the lad who tried to escape from the hands of the police but failed miserably.

The story is very human. Thriller, drama, comedy flavored with motherly love in one package. How about a round of applause Mr. Wang?

Posted in Spring Film Festival: Feature

Spring Feast for the Eyes

by: Fathrize Liam S. Ceñedoza

MANILA – As a communication student with an initial experience with art such as drawing, painting and calligraphy, Ateneo De Manila University’s Art Festival for Chinese New Year really caught my art beating heart.


There are many alleys for this festival such as their Spring Film Showing, Lantern Painting Workshop and Chinese Oil Pastel Painting Workshop, but none attracted me more than the Chinese Art Exhibit.

Considered that I am an art enthusiast, it is easy to assume that I will be excited to attend the art workshops but I am the kind of artist that prefer to work alone in a quiet and cozy place like my room or my house’s balcony so the option of attending the workshops with people watching you work with your art was thrown out of my mind. As an alternative, I decided to feast my eyes upon the beautiful creations showcased on their Chinese Art Exhibit.


I actually had a hard time finding the right time to visit the exhibit due to the reason of wanting to dedicate my entire day gazing to these beautiful works instead of dropping by in a complicated time and date and ending up not really appreciating and enjoying the artworks. I ended up going one Sunday afternoon expecting to consume beautiful and timeless art and I am not disappointed.

The exhibit is small in size but the contents are enough to feed my art craving heart and keep me walking around the display for the whole afternoon. Seeing the artworks up close can give someone chills down the spine. Looking at those works makes you feel like you’ve been to China during their most historic moments. It is somewhat nostalgic without really being there and having the past experience. Looking at the paintings make you feel like you’ve been home in a place you never visited.


Their art can be described as simple but powerful. Their strokes are elegant with a hint of being majestic due to the historic subjects and peacefulness because of the subjects concerning nature. Regal is also another work to describe the beauty laid out in the middle of EDSA Shangri-La.

What makes Chinese Art special is their art’s continuity. As if the artist lived from their earliest dynasties to depict the scenes. Their artworks honor tradition and culture of China. The portrayals of emperors really amazes the viewers due to the intense gaze  but you will also see the brushstrokes and blending of colors.

The lightness of colors calms the mind of the viewer making one experience peace rivaling one inside a Chinese temple. I have seen some Gong-bi paintings with its meticulous handwork and highly defined brushstrokes. These kinds of painting depicts early Chinese lives in somewhat narrative form.


Aside from paintings on canvass, displayed as wells are paintings on scrolls and fans bust most arts are in a form of landscape due to its importance as the highest form of Chinese painting. Landscape includes mountains, clearings, hills and rivers. Other Gong-bi paintings focus on birds and flowers.

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Above all of the paintings, two were my favorite due to its monochromatic theme.

These paintings depict young women. It shows a lady’s perfection of her body with a touch of modernization that influenced the subject. It has the subtle hint of dark message due to its stalker like shot but it somehow shows purity of a woman. The subtle nudity shows the perfect and imperfect qualities that a lady possesses.


After an afternoon of walking among these beautiful paintings, I realized Chinese art now occupies a space in my art loving heart. It is a combination of old and traditional look added with creativity and skill that will endure for an eternity.


Posted in Spring Film Festival: Movie Reviews

Complicated Story: A Movie Review

fb_img_14864767248551The title itself gives justice t
o the whole plot of the story in so many ways. Keeping high expectations with Hong Kong or China based movies allowed me to prepare myself to anticipate many twists in the story.

The film is about a woman named   Liu Yazi, a woman who is financially besieged and is badly in need of  money. She will eventually bite to an offer to become a surrogate mother of an unidentified couple.

The story will start to get complicated as they couple withdraws the offer and forced Liu to have an abortion.

By looking at the synopsis, obviously, this is not as common story you could probably see in any movie either foreign or local. The process of surrogating is a taboo idea most especially in highly conservative societies such as the Philippines and China. The plot allowed me to understand better the process as well as the deeper story of surrogate mothers. The struggle she have faced as she had this moral dilemma of either letting the twins (another twist by the way) live even if they were not hers or to simply abide with the agreement and abort the pregnancy.

By the lenses of a politically active student like me, it’s more than just the twists of love as the real father Yuk Cheung starts to develop a certain romantic feeling for Liu, this story could also be about so many social issues such as the struggles of Chinese students to fund their studies abroad, or the controversy of allowing and legalizing surrogation. Another angle I have managed to focus to is the progression of the story, the branches or side twists of the film gave more spice to the entire story as a whole. One example of this is when Liu found out that the lawyer  Kammy Au whom for all these time have been assisting all her needs has developed feelings for her as well.

photo source: GOOGLE.COM/complicatedstory

 Liu at this point is not just confused about deciding for her pregnancy but also for her own gender orientation. (I can still recall the time she was kissed by Kammy) Another socially relevant discussion was opened up as this angle have come to life, the Lesbian and Gay community. Who would have thought that Kammy is gay? (no one!) These progressions gave me an impression that the story was well planned and well written by its creators Kei  Shu and Kiwi Chow. 

Finally, on the cinematography aspect of the film. There is nothing much that I don’t like in general. The phase of the story is easily being coped to because of the viewer friendly shots  such as emphasizing little details of the story. All-in all, it I can rate the film as 7 over 10!

Ma. Pauline M.Tan


Posted in Spring Film Festival: News Events

Ateneo Brings Chinese Art Culture at Shang’s


by: Thea Amor Alvarado

Shangri-La welcomes artists, aspiring artists, art enthusiasts and anyone who appreciates it; as it launches the Pastel Painting Workshop for everyone to experience Chinese art in their celebration of Lunar New Year.

The workshop on January 29th, is set up to feel as if the Chinese Culture has come to you as you take in the Chinese music, playing during the whole program while you are surrounded by the many Chinese painting displayed not to mention the art exhibit that also feature their culture is positioned at the fountain near the event place, only a few feet away. Other events are Chinese Music Concert and the Spring Film Festival.

It is one of their many events, in collaboration with Ricardo Leong’s Center for Chinese Studies and the Art Association of the Philippines having over more than half a hundred participants, each given a set of oil pastels and felt paper to work on after the lecture.


Fidel Sarmiento, Art Association of the Philippines’ President himself endows the knowledge and painting live to the partakers while his vice president Roger Santos, provides the elaboration of his work.

He works on more than ten paintings to share the styles of stroking, outlining and other basic techniques of pastel painting and promises to give some of his finished artwork as a raffle to the workshop participants as gratitude for being a part of their event.

Oliver Pangan, one of the participants, is also from the Ricardo Leong’s Center for Chinese Studies itself who does Art as a hobby for himself and for his kids; says that the workshop is very informative and does a great job for being able to show the progression of pastel painting from how to start building the colors. Being able to attend different kinds of art workshops, Pangan gives this a perfect rating.

The participants vary from experienced veterans to people working in the field of art to people who do art as a hobby to people who are curious and wants to experience the Chinese art culture, exploiting the free resources while they can.

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One of the participants who is inclined to art but attending a workshop as her first, Ms. Mabelle states how amazing it is to learn more from attending such kinds of events apart from her drawings that evolve themselves through time.

As the participants get immensely drawn by their works, Mr. Sarmiento and Mr. Santos try to go over each table to give comments and motivation.

Edwardo Yanes, a 50 year old partaker who, according to him, has been doing art since birth commends on how the hosts are hands on in teaching everyone.

All the finished artworks can be taken home plus the pastel painting of the Art Association of the Philippines’ President for who ever luckily wins the raffle. More than 5 of his paintings are out for the raffle.

Overall, the pastel painting workshop is a success in helping the people to express themselves via the medium of pastel, according to Pangan.

Posted in Spring Film Festival: News Events

ADMU’s Chinese Art Workshop: A Success

by: Fathrize Liam S. Ceñedoza

MANILA – As a part of the week-long Spring Film Festival, the fest’s Chinese Pastel Painting Workshop proved to be a success not only by its organizers but also by its attendees and participants.


The festival held at EDSA Shangri-La Plaza, organized by Ateneo De Manila University under the Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, started on Wedenesday, January 25, and ended on Tuesday, January 31. This is ADMU’s way of honoring and celebrating  2017’s Chinese New Year.


The workshop, led by Art Association of the Philippines, started at 1 o’clock in the afternoon.

Art Association of the Philippines’s President, Fidel Sarmiento, said that as an artist since the year 1975, he is happy to share his knowledge in painting and it is fulfilling to see the participants creating art out of their own creativity rather than copying his examples or other artist’s works.

When asked about his interpretations of Chinese art, Sarmiento said he thinks simple strokes are the key to the art’s timeless beauty.


Fidel Sarmiento started as one of AAP’s Director then he became president in 2002.

Art Association of the Philippines toured all over the country to teach art, one of their notable legs is when they entered Philippine’s Bilibid Prison to have a workshop for the prisoners.

According to AAP’s Vice President, Roger Santos, in his 42 years of being an artist, he is glad to help foundations and organizations such as Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies to conduct a workshop and reach out to different kinds of people.

Santos said that he is amazed by the Chinese’s luck drawn from their art due to its harmony with nature.

Aside from Sarmiento and Santos, the participants also recognizes the workshop as a true success.

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According to Sharmaine, 37 years old, as a participant and as her first time to use oil pastel, she never was fond of this form of art but the workshop showed her the true beauty of Chinese art and made her “fascinated by Chinese Art’s peacefulness.

Another attendee, 57 years old Eduardo, brought his son with cerebral palsy and a family friend with autism. He said that he will give five stars for the workshop due to their free admission and good accommodation for persons with disability.

Posted in Spring Film Festival: Feature

Buy 1, Take 2! @Shangrila

by Andrea Montalban         

          They say music is the language of the soul. True enough, many listen to music with no lyrics, or songs with lyrics they do not understand. Oddly enough (or not) people still understand theses songs’ meaning, the notes still touch their hearts, the songs still speak to them. Why? Because if there is one way to communicate with the rest of the universe it is through notes—the breaker of language barriers. Proof of that was seen in one of the noisiest places in the world—the mall.

          Last January twenty-eight (28), in celebration of the coming of the year of the chick—er rooster, a concert was held in Shangrila Plaza, EDSA. No, Ken Chan was not there nor did Jackie Chan make an appearance, and Richard Poon did not serenade anyone. Despite the venue, it was not an event promoting a celebrity or brand, but a celebration of a happy race living with another equally joyful kin. An event promoting the bond between Chinese and Filipinos.

          The performers were Philippine Cultural College Glee Club, Mr. Jhonvid Bangayan, Mr. Albert Cedric Tan, the Hope Chorale,

Ms. Angel Ko, Ms. Ellen Pao, and the 3 Sirens (read more about them here). All talented singers who serenaded shoppers with Chinese songs.

     What makes this concert beautiful and unique is the emotion conveyed through their singing. It takes confidence to stand up on a stage, much more with the knowledge that the audience may not bother listening because of the language difference. Music speaks to any soul, even through Beethoven’s deafness, but it takes a passionate performer to penetrate the noisy consciousness of people. And that is what exactly happened—passion won through it all.

     In a place where entertainment and business is the focus, where people rush from one place to another searching for something they want to claim as theirs, there is one thing that they already own yet take for granted. Something that does not have a price tag and will never go on sale. It has no label nor does it need one. In this one day of January, through arrangement of notes and composition of words, shoppers of Shangrila Plaza, EDSA were reminded of the priceless culture they have, and if they think they only have one—this event where cultures clashed in harmony proved them wrong.

the Sirens with another siren (wannabee) yours truly