Cinemalaya Short Film Tarang is a Gritty look into Life in Manila’s Slums

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With dramatic cinematography, unsettling imagery, and a quietly relentless pace, Tarang (Life’s Pedal) offers a harrowing look into life in Manila’s poorer areas.

The film wastes no time throwing you right into a picture of suffocating poverty: a shaky camera pans around the dilapidated home of Rodel, a tricycle driver, as he is pressured into paying bills he cannot afford by a foul-mouthed bill collector. The people in Rodel’s neighborhood all live out a similar reality, desperately trying to make ends meet. A fleeting sense of levity is introduced as a mother tells her child that she is “so beautiful, (she’ll) become a movie star one day!” – but this hope is quickly extinguished as women of age on the same street are shown prostituting themselves to eke out a living. IMG 6926 Edited

A man hints at selling drugs again – “as long as no one else gets to f*** my wife” – but such decisions are not to be made lightly, and one of them results in devastating consequences for the small community. By the film’s ending – a disturbing, rapid-fire mishmash of graphic images – Rodel’s life is changed forever in a Manila minute, yet he must put on a brave face and carry on his struggle to survive.

Tarang clocks in at a concise, heavy 15 minutes, and every element of the film – from its stark imagery of filthy evening streets and the corpses of dogs, to its ominous score and its color grading – a grayish hue only made lighter by the yellow streetlamps of Manila – all come together to paint a vivid picture of the squalid conditions that the city’s poorer residents must endure on a daily basis. The film’s actors all but disappear into their roles, with Nikko delos Santos evoking a quiet but compelling tension as Rodel, and screen veteran Soliman Cruz offering up a short but powerful performance as a prostitute’s father.

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Tarang was written and directed by Arvin “Kadiboy” Belarmino, who is a multi-awarded independent film director best known for his 2016 film Nakaw, which won several awards, including Best Short Film at the Gawad Urian Awards, Best Director at the Short and Sweet Film Festival 2017 in Hollywood, and Best Fiction Film at the 3rd Minikino Film Festival in Jakarta Indonesia, among other awards. His film “Kyel” also won Best Director and Best Film at the Pelikultura Film Festival. The film was produced by Patsy Ferrer, who also produced Belarmino’s Nakaw.

Watch it here:’s-pedal)

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