Hollywood Reporter praises Filipino film Above the Clouds

Hollywood Reporter praises Filipino film Above the Clouds


Hollywood Reporter praises Filipino film Above the Clouds (1)


Top American entertainment magazine The Hollywood Reporter gave a glowing review of Pepe Diokno’s Above the Clouds at the Berlin International Film Festival’s European Film Market this week. In his review, film critic Clarence Tsui hailed the film’s direction, cinematography, musical score, and praised the performances of its lead actors, rock legend Pepe Smith and 16-year-old newcomer Ruru Madrid.

Above the Clouds is the much-awaited sophomore film of Diokno, whose debut outing Engkwentro won two best picture awards at the 2009 Venice Film Festival. According to Tsui, the gritty film raised expectations that Diokno “might become the next torch-bearer of gritty, urban Filipino cinema,” but in Above the Clouds, Diokno has gone the other way. “Diokno has morphed and matured. His sophomore effort swaps subtle storytelling and sumptuous visuals for his former preoccupations with genre filth and fury,” Tsui writes.

The result is a family drama about a teenage boy named Andy (Madrid) and his estranged grandfather (Smith), who go on a journey to overcome the grief of losing their loved ones. It’s “as ethereal as a familial drama could get,” Tsui says, citing Diokno’s “surprising artistic restraint and his canny eye for natural beauty.”

Hollywood Reporter praises Filipino film Above the Clouds (2)

Ruru Madrid, Pepe Smith, producer Bianca Balbuena, and Pepe Diokno at the Tokyo International Film Festival


“Diokno never stoops to caricature or cliché as he highlights the differences between young and old, city and country, modernity and tradition. Instead, he unceasingly celebrates the ravishing beauty of the rural Philippines. Shot at Mount Pulag National Park on the island of Luzon, Above the Clouds provides stunning settings for both Andy and the grandfather to release and resolve their internal turmoil. Carlo Mendoza’s camerawork provides a stirring survey of the landscape, while deftly highlighting the characters’ relationship to all this nature, while Johann Mendoza’s music also helps heighten the drama within,” Tsui writes.

Tsui reserved his highest praise for the film’s cast of two. “Above all are the excellent two lead performances, both perfectly tuned to Diokno’s scheme of subtle things. Surprisingly, chemistry abounds between the upstart Madrid and local showbiz legend Smith, whose four-decade career in Filipino rock has earned him a reputation as something like his country’s answer to Mick Jagger. To those who know and love his work, Smith’s haggard, grandfatherly turn in Above the Clouds is sure to come as a compelling surprise,” Tsui writes.

Above the Clouds is a co-production between the Philippines and France, and is currently making the rounds of international film festivals. It will premiere in the Philippines later this year.

Read The Hollywood Reporter’s full review here: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/clouds-berlin-efm-review-769706

For more information, visit www.abovetheclouds.ph or email director Pepe Diokno at info@pepediokno.com or producer Bianca Balbuena at bianca.balbuena@yahoo.com.


Hollywood Reporter praises Filipino film Above the Clouds

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