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Amok

Canadian Premiere
  • Philippines
  • 2011
  • 84 mins
  • DCP
  • Tagalog
  • English (subtitles)
WINNER: Special Prize, Moscow International Detective Film Festival 2012
Offical Secelction, Busan International Film Festival 2011
Official Selection, Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival 2011
Official Selection, Edinburgh International Film Festival 2012

“Production values and technical work are impressive on a lean budget” — Richard Kuipers, VARIETY

It’s an afternoon like any other in Pasay Rotonda, one of the busiest locales of Manila, the Philippine capital. A blazing sun rules over huge buildings. The intersection of EDSA and That street is invaded by monstrous traffic. On sidewalks, merchants are selling designer brand jeans, electronics and drinks. The smell of barbecue mixes with that of dust. Passersby go about their business without worrying about others. A blind itinerant is trying to survive in this stifling climate. An unemployed stuntman finds himself in trouble when he flirts with the wrong prostitute. While the radio announces that a killer is still at large, a father and son dream of basketball. Exhausted and penniless, a woman does not know how to reconcile her miserable line of work with the education of her daughter. The bad day of a taxi driver reaches a climax when a particularly offensive client embarks. However, something is brewing, unbeknownst to all. Soon, they will see their destinies intersect despite all, as they become caught in the same chaos. An event of Dantesque proportions is about to explode. The tension builds, much like the heat. AMOK!

The treasure of mise en scène that is AMOK plunges into a disorienting exoticism from its first images forward, director Lawrence Fajardo managing to stunningly capture the energy of Pasay Rotonda. Nothing escapes his camera, which captures all the colours of the city, its crowd and its hectic lifestyle. With an exceptional soundtrack, Fajardo meticulously recreates the acoustic soundscapes of this hot corner of Manila. The experience is overwhelming — for 80 minutes, AMOK creates a genuine sense of being there on these congested streets, making for some truly unforgettable encounters. For AMOK is more than a look at urban life, it is also a gripping ensemble piece in the tradition of SHORT CUTS, with a little added dynamite! Fajardo has created an impressive series of parallel narratives that are all outstanding, whether through their dark humour, their representation of everyday misery or their implied violence. When they unite to form one story, the film takes a dazzling turn and will grab you by the throat. AMOK is an explosive piece of work that slams the viewer right down on the concrete pavement of Manila.

— Simon Laperriere

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