As If It’s TrueDirected by John Rogers
Cast: Khalil Ramos, Ashley Ortega, Adrianna So, John Silverio
Official selection, 2023 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival
What would you do to stay in the spotlight? Gemma Stone was once an accidentally viral meme star, and is now a full-time content-creating celebrity. But as her fame dwindles, she has a one-night stand with James, a struggling singer-songwriter. Her brand could use a little earnest romance, and his music sure could use an audience. After a tantalizing night of violence, flirting, and sex, she invites him to join in a clout-chasing game: fake romance.
As their chemistry is curated, edited, and perfected for the audience, down to soundtrack glitches, abrupt cuts to TikTok, and secrets heartlessly filmed for attention, the burning passion on camera becomes only a vapid transaction. Or does it? Masquerading the camera as an unreliable narrator, filmmaker John Rogers blurs domesticity, yearning, and the personal to highlight the role of an audience on one relationship’s rapidly growing toxicity. Khalil Ramos’s vulnerable and subtle performance as James will tug on heartstrings, even as it whiplashes viewers trying to differentiate between reality and performativity.
AS IF IT’S TRUE reveals the underbelly of influencer culture and questions its potential for authenticity. And in a film where social status, not love, conquers all, how long will victory last before fame fizzles out and their romance gig is up?
– Alissa Tu
Directed by Sonny Calvento
A mother must dance vigorously and suffer dramatically when she auditions for a gameshow to crown the best mother.