Cast: Christian Bables, Daria Ramirez, Elora Españo, Mon Confiado, Nanding Josef
Philippines foreign language film submission, 2019 Academy Awards
Official Selection, 2018 Busan International Film Festival
In the Philippines, there is an old tradition where villagers come together to help someone move by placing the entire house on wooden poles, and carrying it upon their shoulders. This ritual, called Bayanihan, has come to represent the Filipino spirit of cooperation and community. But what happens when people move across oceans, and even nations? How far can the bonds of community stretch without snapping, and how much weight can they carry without breaking?
This is the question at the heart of SIGNAL ROCK. Filmed on the breathtaking Biri Island in Samar, director Chito Roño invites us into a small town, where the only place to get cell phone reception is on top of a giant coastal rock, money is constantly argued over, and the local boys watch sullenly as young girls leave one by one, groomed in the hopes of snagging good work abroad or a rich foreigner. When young, charming, and quick-tempered Intoy receives terrible news from his sister in Finland, he comes up with a plan — one that requires the whole village to execute. As his plan meets challenge after challenge, we watch Intoy grow from the boy who steals chickens into the man who will go great distances to help those he loves, no matter how far away they might be.
In a world where those who remain rooted are seen as provincial, and Facebook “likes” count as support, Roño’s film is a deeply necessary reminder of the painful sacrifice and profound beauty that manifest when people are truly there for each other.
– Yang Jiang