Cast: Charo-Santos-Concio, Daniel Padilla, Rans Rifol
Youth Jury Prize, 2021 Locarno Film Festival
In the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, Miguel, the protagonist of Carlo Francisco Manatad’s debut feature WHETHER THE WEATHER IS FINE, wakes up in bed to find Tacloban City in ruins. Debris, dead bodies, rooftops, and homes have been obliterated, rescue centers have been set up, and announcements that another storm is coming float through the air. Prayer is omnipresent, even though there doesn’t seem to be enough time or candles. Waking up to this brand new world, Miguel, his friend Andrea, and his mother Norma navigate the now-uncanny city, searching for a rumored ship that will take them to safety in Manila.
Based upon his personal experiences of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, Manatad steeps the viewer in a state of possible dream, possible afterlife, possible psychic response to the horrific destruction leveraged suddenly upon the lives of his characters. The film’s realm of the real bends to this unmooring: it follows the arc of characters who are forced into a kind of existential drift—searching for a ship that will take them to an unknown future in Manila, but also wandering through endless passageways, quasi-religious tableaus, hordes of magical children, and homes real and imagined. In the process, Manatad bends the language of film to accommodate the strange new world the characters now inhabit, to express the strange and fractured realms of meaning they must come to know.