A story of loss, madness and redemption set in a modern day landscape of Davao City, and adapting a surrealist vibe, it is an intellectual treat, a visual poetry and music for the lost soul.
Jade Chloe Laquihon
Ruth Kathryn Jayne Laquihon
Ricardo Villarobe, Jr.
Sonata Maria OST by Jad Montenegro
Serendipity formed Sonata Maria.
The immense passion of the remarkable people seen in this film and those working behind it, and the unwitting affairs that became favorable to its story and its creation, all cosmically converged to help complete this film. This may be telling us that…
Magic does happen in Filmmaking!
Raphael Meting and Mark Limbaga
Mark Limbaga, Maki Serapio, and Raphael Meting
Bagane Fiola, Orvil Bantayan, Mandy Velasco, Louie Daniel, and Lulu Amorado
Costume and Styling
Mandy Velasco, Aidx Paredes, and Kyrie Eleison Regala Banos
Aldrin Conrad Cangayda and Gladys Ayuste
Jad Montenegro (Waywardcomet)
“Badinerie” composed by J.S. Bach and performed by Misha Romano and Miracle Romano
Visual Effects and Editing
Melona Grace Mascariñas, Christine Salazar, and Maraux Denise Garcia
Screenplay and Directing
Bagane Fiola, Raphael Meting, and Mark Limbaga
Angely Chi, Bagane Fiola, Dax Cañedo, Debbie Karol Butay, Janoz Xn Yesu Laquihon, Mark Limbaga, Pawlo Pascual, Raphael Meting, and Rhon delos Santos
Oya Film Productions, TimeWrap, Studio99, Alchemy of Vision & Light Productions, and Origane Films
“Nindota sa trailer, uy. Mora mag naay timpla nga Jodorowsky.”– Adonis Durado, Cebuano poet
YCC Filim Desk 2014
Winner for Best First Feature Film
Winner for Best Sound & Aural Orchestration
Best Production Sound (Limbaga Mark and Raphael Meting)
Best Sound Design (Maki Serapio)
Best Musical Score Sound (Jad Montenegro-Amor)
Nominated for Best Performance (Johnny Hager)
Nominated for Best Editing (Bagane Fiola)
Nominated for Best Cinematography & Visual Design
Best Cinematography (Mark Limbaga and Raphael Meting)
Best Production Design (Mandy Velasco, Bagane Fiola, Orvil Bantayan, and Louie Daniel)
“More than any other in the YCC 2014 shortlist, Sonata Maria embodies the necessity of crafting and putting forth engaging visual language.”– Tessa Maria Guazon, The Wonders of Getting Lost
“Sa hindi inaasahang paglalaro sa musika ni Bach (hindi kakatwang nanlalaro o nanloloko ang pagpapakahulugan ng badinerie), at ng musika ng karnabal, nagkakaroon ng tekstura ang naririnig at napapakinggan upang maipadanas din ang parehong kabaliwan at katinuan, pantasya at realidad, nitong bernakular na modernidad.” – Aristotle Atienza, YCC Film Desk
“Sinikap naman ng Sonata Maria na tugaygayin ang kaisipan ng isang binatang nagkakaroon ng krisis sa kanyang pag-iral. May mga pagkakataong ginugulat tayo at dinadala sa mga delusyong tanging makikita sa isang taong hinahanap ang kanyang sarili at pilit nilulutas ang mga suliranin ng kanyang buhay. Naging mapaglaro ang pelikula sa paglalakbay sa lungsod ng isang taong walang kapaguran sa pag-iisip. Makinis ang takbo ng naratibo mula sa kasulok-sulukan ng kaisipan hanggang sa bukas na espasyo ng pakikisalamuha sa ibang tao.” – JPaul S. Manzanilla, YCC Film Desk
“Naisasaloob ni Krigi Hager (Nominated for YCC Film Desk 2014 Best Performance as Ramon Bonifacio) sa Sonata Maria ang mayamang haraya na nalilibot ng isang malay na sinisikap na mapanghawakan ang sariling nagliliwaliw sa laberinto ng mga katanungang eksistensiyal.” – J. Pilapil Jacobo, YCC Film Desk
“Sa unang malas, ensayo sa palasak nang sipat sa kamalayang eksistensyal ang Sonata Maria (Ug Ang Babayeng Halas ang Tunga sa Lawas) ni Bagane Fiola, ngunit may kabihasnan ang pelikula sa paglayas mula sa baog na kadiliman ng narsisismo sa kasalukuyan. Sa halip, marangya ang hulagwayan sa sarikulay na liwanag ng kabataang isip na tapat sa kanyang mga kinakaharap na guwang kaya’t nagagawan ng paraan na kipilin ang silakbo at patiningin ang pagdaramdam ng sariling unti-unti at isa-isang niyayakap ang mga murang pangarap na katambal naman talaga ng mga mahal na kasawian.” – Patrick D. Flores & J. Pilapil Jacobo, YCC Film Desk
“Mahusay na inilapat ni Bagane Fiola ang dalawang mundong nagsasalimbayan sa buhay ng pangunahing karakter sa Sonata Maria. Ito ay ang mga hulagway sa kaisipan at ang sa wari niya’y walang saysay na realidad. Iisa ang hugis ng mga mundong ito, makulay at puno ng mga hindi inaasahang pangyayari. Inilahad ito ng Sonata Maria sa paraang kapana-panabik, mapaglaro, ngunit mapagtanong at mausisa. Gamit ang editing, isinabuhay ng pelikula ang lantay na kapangyarihan ng imahinasyon na mapagtunton ang kabuluhan ng mga bagay-bagay.” – Tessa Maria Guazon, YCC Film Desk
“I commend the playful use of visual and spoken metaphors – and the successful portrayal of losing lucidity in a dream. In many ways, the film speaks to the fundamental inner humanity of each individual which allows for a personal interpretation ergo a very personalized overall movie experience.” – Andre Villalba, Davao City
“In particular check, out Sonata Maria by Bagane Fiola, (a fellow Davaoeno), a thinking man’s take on a regular guy’s daily choices and dilemma when faced with non-ideal realities (we all have those days of escape don’t we?). Funny at certain points, chill for the most part. I went to watch its pre-screening in Davao with no expectations and was pleasantly surprised.” – Sly Maranga, Davao City
“Sonata Maria is about a brooding yuppie who creates an alternate reality to cover up for his struggles and frustrations. PK Whitmer as Maria scores as the near-real life approximation of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl character (Summer Finn of 500 Days of Summer or Enid of Ang Nawawala), Writer and culturati Maria Morales has a scene-stealing cameo appearance. The musical score of Jad Montenegro adds the strains of tension and poignancy to the movie.
Sonata Maria within its palette of visual and spoken metaphors is in its core a movie about the joys and pitfalls of hopeless romanticism.” – Rudolf Ian Alama, festival director, Mindanao Film Festival
“We saw the premiere for this not-a-love-story love story yesterday. Shivered me timbers. Ask for a screening in your school/workplace/mini theater. The filmmakers are reaaally friendly.” – Ara Chawdury, filmmaker, Cebu City
“Beautifully shot and deeply philosophical without being pretentious, Bagane Fiola’s Sonata Maria closed this year’s Binisaya Film Festival. It was world premiere for this film from Davao.” – Radel Paredes, artist, Cebu City
“To cap off BINISAYA was the premiere of Sonata Maria, directed by Davao-based Bagane Fiola. An independently-produced feature film under Origane Films, Sonata Maria is a magical-realist take on twenty-something struggles.” – Mariya Lima, writer, Binisaya Film Festival
“There is an ancient Greek story about how each of us originally had a twin who was separated from us upon birth. We are then condemned to live our lives in search for that missing twin. Some people are lucky to be able to find their “other halves” and happily live with them.
Others encounter their eternal twin without really knowing it or they come to realize it but circumstances do not permit their reunion.
This creates a deep sense of longing and melancholia that haunts us in both our dreams and waking life.
It leaves an emptiness in our hearts that may not be filled. Existentialist philosophers call it angst or alienation and advise that we try to cope by living for the moment and not really expecting much from what the present or future offers.
Artists find temporary solace in beauty. The purpose of art, Nietzsche said, is to provide “metaphysical comfort” from life’s tragedies that otherwise could lead us to commit suicide.
For the filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, “the aim of art is to prepare the person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering it capable of turning to good”.
Bagane Fiola’s “Sonata Maria”, a feature film from Davao which had its premiere in the recent Binisaya Film Festival held at the University of San Carlos College of Architecture and Fine Arts theater, tells the story of Ramon and Maria, two former bandmates who never got to fully express their love for each other, although they realized that their shared love for music (in particular, J.S. Bach) and poetry was enough proof that they could actually be soulmates.
Years after they disband, an opportunity to have a reunion comes when their colleague Erik is supposed to arrive from Manila and asks that they all meet at the karnabal. Only Ramon and Maria show up and both try to catch up with each other, trying to hide their longing for each other by talking mainly about music and poetry. But their joyful reunion ends after Ramon makes a rather prosaic comment about Maria’s marriage to a rich man, which makes the girl leave in disappointment.
The festive setting of the perya belies the melancholia of the film whose blurring of the line between dreaming, fantasy, and events in the waking life, makes its narrative recall Fellini’s “Eight and a Half”. As in Fellini’s film, whose ending was also set in a kind of circus, Bagane makes the suicide scene at the close of “Sonata Maria” unclear whether it actually happens or not. The filmmaker repeats the scene but this time, Ramon puts down the revolver he found in a toilet.
In another scene, he returns the pistol to the guard fearing that the guy could lose his job with the gun.
Narrating it as a dream set in a perya, the filmmaker made a style that tends to become a visual feast look natural. The kinetic rhythms of colors and light and the soft but playful music contrast with the sadness that pervades in the film.
Such deliberate use of irony only adds to the film’s expressiveness but also its understated power.
There are moments when the film becomes a bit too chatty, but its philosophical musings make it clear that this film is not really intended for the majority. It’s an honest film about an artist not feeling belongingness to a society that lures people into modern forms of slavery with promises of wealth and comfort.
But this rather somber film is not without its share of visual puns. Ramon, who claims to share the birthday of Andres Bonifacio, the Supremo of the Katipunan, tops his corporate attire with a Supreme baseball hat.
The mismatched street wear is Ramon’s banner of revolt against the corporate world. At one point, Ramon calls Maria from a payphone near a watch repair shop with a sign that says “We buy broken heart (sic) lost soul”.
That scene sums up the absurdity of the human condition.” – Radel Paredes, writer, Cebu Daily News
“Sonata is one day in a poet’s life. Could be a little heavy for most, so don’t leave your sense of tumor, i mean humor, with cinema guard. Already lookin forward to the next film by this talent. Gogogo didi!” – Ricky de Ungria, Filipino Poet
“Ramon and Maria are erstwhile bandmates, one day their former bandmate Eric is set to return home from Manila, the three agree to meet up at the local carnival (karnabal). During the meet-up Eric’s homecoming is delayed, leaving Ramon and Maria to spend the evening roaming around the carnival.
This is the main setting of the Davao indie film Sonata Maria, the carnival provides a rich visual language which filmmaker Bagane Fiola wishes to convey. The carnival glosses over the characters’ anguish particularly Ramon Bonifacio (played by Krigi Hager) of living a boring routinary life buried under the excesses of a corporate rat race. His dreams provides his only escape and so is his memory- his suppressed feelings for Maria, the movie’s setting marks the whirlpool meeting of Ramon’s reality, dreams and memories.
Maria sort of plays a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, a cinematic character whose term was coined by film critic Nathan Robin.
According to Mr. Robin the MPDG ‘exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.’
Among famous MPDG characters include Summer Finn of 500 Days of Summer (played by Zoey Deschanel), Penny Lane of Almost Famous (played by Kate Hudson), The Girl in My Sassy Girl (played by Jun Ji-hyun), Enid of the 2012 Cinemalaya indie film Ang Nawawala (played by Annicka Dolonius).
Maria played by PK Whittmer existence in the story catapults the brooding Ramon out of his shell. The discussions between J.S Bach’s music and poetry suggests a soulmate link between the two but there is a lingering distance between the characters and the wait for the dismantling of that gap between the two characters provides an engaging act for the audience, the filmmakers throws in a rich palette of visual, spoken and musical elements which makes this movie a class of its own among local indie films.” – Rudolf Ian Alama, festival director, Mindanao Film Festival
“Like finding money on the street when you forgot your wallet, Sonata Maria was born and created out of the inner workings of what writer/director Bagane Fiola enthusiastically claims as “serendipity.”
Fiola swears Sonata as a “collective effort of passionate and independent artists.” And with such energy working towards a single goal, it was no surprise that the movie ended up in the theatre of a big-time mall.” – Ana Miguel Cervantes, writer, LIEU Online Magazine
“Saw Sonata Maria this morning at Abreeza and the projection was way better than the Cinematheque screening. But I realized that what makes it watchable and intriguing is Ramon Bonifacio, a walking contradiction himself, torn apart by abandoned ambitions, a bleak future, inner forces, intellectual and emotional, the manifestation of which is his convoluted, existential ramblings. There are things and motifs that appear in his dreams and reality, some meaningless and absurd, but characterizes this lucidity, an intellectual/emotional stasis. At 70 minutes, it already feels like a biopic, of some random guy, maybe somebody we know, a product of an unraveling history, of a generation of broken hearts and lost souls. And Krigi Hager, portraying Ramon, with this distinct cadence in his enunciations, captures the ambivalence, impulsiveness and exasperation fittingly, even if he doesn’t really say anything new, or just simply reaffirm what we can’t quite say to ourselves.” – Jay Rosas, Cinephile, Davao City
“Abreeza was a success because we were able to pull off screening a totally independent, full-length feature film of our making, in the most prestigious cinema in the city, no less, with hardly any help from any official entity. A movie is supposed to end up in a movie house, with all it’s glitz and glamour with it. It’s supposed to be larger than life. And we accomplished that… THAT’S WHY ABREEZA WAS A SUCCESS.” – Ferdinand Mesias, Actor, Davao City
“Sonata Maria is a Movie that expresses the difficult truth inside the mind of a delusional realist with no strong convictions, living on the deprived end of an imperialist world. Ramon, the main character, the protagonist and the antagonist, goes through a regretful phase in his life while living out day to day thoughts in almost poetry. These insightful ideas that go through people’s head and choose to shrug off, what less decipher. It sometimes gets to a point where you wait for something remarkable to happen, and it does, but only in Ramon’s mind – just like in real life. This is why I find the movie so honest and sincere, not to mention the Soundtrack is truly exceptional. I profoundly admire its courage for expressing reality while designating ominous notions and narrating them throughout the movie. It’s a thinking man’s movie that can speak different truths for individuals, subjectively symbolizing incidents for the watcher. It gives me tremendous pride that this Movie is an independent product of our Davao City.” – Smigol Hager, Davao City
“Sonata Maria is easily music for the eyes, poetry for the soul. At the minimum, viewers should bring a notebook or keep their mobile devices ready; the characters are rich in quotable quotes..” – Yas Ocampo, writer Mindanao Times
“Those who have been entranced by Bagane Fiola’s enigmatic masterpiece, ‘Wailings in the Forest’, might be surprised by the chattiness of this, his first film, as he finds his extraordinary voice and vision. First films are often flawed but even the flaws have a disarming purity and sincerity of spirit.”– Alice Skinhead, filmmaker, Cinema Oasis, Bangkok, Thailand
“The full title of this film is ‘Maria and the Half-Snake Woman’. More of the Snake Woman later, but Maria is Redemption, in this filmed personified by a singer-songwriter, the only one of a group of old friends who has stayed true to her dreams, while the rest of the gang have succumbed to pragmatic careers and dreary futile lives in Davao City, first seen on a long backtracking shot as a typical candy-coloured Southeast Asian provincial town on a mellow sunny day, the civil war over for now.
Great things had been expected of Ramon, our protagonist, when he was born of jungle guerrilla parents on the same day as the Father of the Filipino Revolution. But here he is, on his 27th birthday, a boring no-future office boy. This cannot be my life! A war orphan raised by his grandma, who had once legendarily swallowed an egg that had fallen from a tree onto her head, he believed she’d swallowed a snake’s egg and not a bird’s egg as she thought, or claimed. The child had half-expected Grandma to turn into a snake. She did not, but the possibility of it has laid a curse upon him somehow. “The Devil wants to play tricks on me!” he mutters, as he seems to be always dreaming awake or awakening from a dream into another dream.
The shadow of Grandma’s curse is invoked by a stereotypically (at first) smokey CU. of a witch intoning a prayer backwards while a pure white chicken is offered in blood sacrifice. The chicken’s neck is wrung and sawed through to gleeful shrieks of violin. In the forest four wood nymphs in thin white shifts converge from four directions to lay the now roasted chicken, stuck with a candle, as a birthday gift offering at his feet. They are wearing the black raven-like masks of medieval plague doctors and corpse-removers. They are Death from Contagion, in his case from profane contact with the mundane, the death of his dreams and the futility of such a life, and they are calling his name. But Ramon cannot wake up. He’s going to kill someone; he’s going to kill himself, unless he can reconnect with Maria.
He dreams of her in golden fields, putting up her wild hair in a bun. This is the fantasy born of desire, the yearning for his true, misplaced, soul. The reality is an old faux gypsy woman fortune-teller putting up her hair in a bun in the dark with aged hands encrusted with rings. But it is all a show. Her face, her voice, her prophecy are all disappointingly prosaic and banal. He confesses his witchy dreams; she repays with harmless platitudes. The eyeliner, the scarves—all that drama for nothing. More banality in store when he finally tracks down the Snake Woman, advertised on show in a disco-lit nightclub tent in the forest, “cursed by not following her heart”. There is no mystery in these self-created dramas. The witch is not spelling a curse. Grandma is merely saying grace to thank the Lord for His Bounty, enabling her, for instance, to eat roast chicken.
Those who have been entranced by Bagane Fiola’s enigmatic masterpiece, ‘Wailings in the Forest’, might be surprised by the chattiness of this, his first film, as he finds his extraordinary voice and vision. First films are often flawed but even the flaws have a disarming purity and sincerity of spirit.” – Alice Skinhead, filmmaker, Cinema Oasis, Bangkok, Thailand