A giant of a film waiting to be born

“Yield” is a film that has already made history by being included as finalist to six categories in this year’s 66th Famas Awards. It may be the first ever documentary film to be nominated in the best film and best director categories–traditionally exclusive to full-length feature films. It is also a finalist in the best cinematography, best editing, best sound, and best documentary film categories.

Yield’s co-director, cinematographer, editor, sound engineer Victor Delotavo Tagaro told Kodao the film will finally be launched after the Famas Awards ceremonies.

Following is Kodao’s short review of the film. (Tagaro was once a Kodao filmmaker.)

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Filipino feature films usually rely on long-winded dialogues to move their stories along.  Video documentaries, on the other hand, mostly rely on voiceovers to stitch its sequences together.  In both cases, they betray their radio drama roots by almost always describing what is already being shown.

Comes now Yield, a 90-minute pictorial feast that eschews the voice-over and the dialogue as story-telling tools.  The film relies almost entirely on the visual to bring the viewer from one situation to the next, in a bracing roller-coaster ride of both despair and hope.

The documentary does not reveal a script—an unconventional approach realized successfully by its directors.  There are no interviews either, the film firmly sticking to the unhindered interaction between the camera and the subjects.  Thus, there are no perspectives but the subjects’ and the viewers’ reactions are entirely their own, unencumbered by manipulative dialogue or an interviewer’s questions.

Instead, the film relies solely on gorgeous sequential cinematography to move the story along.  The deliberate composition of each frame and the beautiful movement of each sequence offer the viewers a visual tour-de-force that is unlikely to be forgotten in a long while.

Yield’s narrative benefits from this unusual and brave approach in filmmaking.  It is a presentation and discussion of the lives of poor children all over the Philippines that is un-proselytizing but pregnant, silent but incendiary.  It lets poor children tell their stories just by living, the camera recording them almost incidental.  It lets them tell the viewer a thing or two about their struggles to live—and die—with dignity.

Within an hour-and-a-half, the film takes us to five years of these children’s lives.  It also subtly reminds us while watching of the epic amount of dedication and creativity spent to produce it, as well as bonds and relationships formed between the filmmakers and the subjects in those five years of pain and joy, of loss and creation.

Yield is co-directed by its executive producer Toshihiko Uriu and Victor “Onin” Delotavo Tagaro who, to date, is most famous for his 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre documentary, “Sa Ngalan ng Tubo.”  He is also the primary cinematographer and editor of this TIU Cinema production.  The film’s unobtrusive yet powerful music is by Diwa Felipe de Leon

Whenever this documentary’s launch date may be, it should be marked as the day Philippine cinema gave birth to a giant of a film.—Raymund B. Villanueva

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