Barbecue vendor cum small-town filmmaker to remake classic film “Rashomon”

The Inbox

By Philip Paraan, VERA Files

A passion for films and a lot of dreams could sometimes spark a cinematic feat to remake a classic film.

Cloyd Ribo, a middle-aged struggling local filmmaker from a remote island in southern Philippines, dreams of remaking Akira Kurosawa's award-winning film "Rashomon" in his native dialect (Lawisanon).

With the help of trusted artist-friends, Ribo is in the process of making this film project a reality on Bantayan Island in Cebu.

Asked why he chose to remake "Rashomon," Ribo explained: "It's a narrative that revealed so much about humanity."

"Rashomon" is a Japanese crime drama film that won the Golden Lion Award for its director (Akira Kurosawa) in the 1951 Venice Film Festival, and Best Foreign Language Film in the 24th Academy Wards in the US in 1952.

Ribo is a self-taught filmmaker, who has been studying the craft from online sources, mostly from Youtube, since 2010.

His barbecue-cum-internet shop has been the venue of his online learning. From there, he has learned the ropes of film making, including how to use the camera, editing, and graphic ad via the internet.

His family used to own Republic, the only movie theatre in town --- this would explain his affinity with cinema.  He also got involved in a stage play several years back.

In between selling barbecue and operating his internet cafe, Ribo dabbles in small-scale productions, including mixing music for a local radio station.

He  involved a number of local teenagers in his newly-setup production, School of the Presidents.   What is unique about their production is it is very community-based and is committed to producing materials about and for the community.

Under Project Cloyd initiated by the Office of Culture and Design (OCD), a group of Filipino directors from the Philippine independent cinema community and Spanish directors has been helping Ribo's group realize this project.  The lineup of directors and creative professionals include Lav  Diaz, Yason Banal, Martha Atienza, Franco Guerrero, Joey Suaco, Raya Martin, Spanish director Carlos Casas and graphic artist Rafa Cortez.

Since the latter part of 2011, several workshops on the different aspects of research, planning, intermediate and advance production along with other technical and aesthetic requirements of moviemaking have been extended to Rubio and his team.

One of his mentors, Dutch-Filipino filmmaker  Martha Atienza,  said that in training  Rubio and his crew, she realized how fond they were of Indian movies. Their fresh outlook was an advantage, Atienza noted.

However, their exposure to western media seems to be a stumbling block, Atienza said: "The main challenge for me is originality. The local dialect does not even have (a translation for) this word. If it has never been seen or done before on MTV or any television program, then it just is not good. So they are good at copying but the challenge is to teach them to think independently."

OCD has facilitated the sourcing of grants and funding for Project Cloyd. It said the project has become a new source of income for some members of the community, who have relied mainly on fishing and other traditional income sources.

Gradually, Ribo's team has been also able to get commissioned projects like wedding videos, audio-visual presentations, and video documentations like that of town fiestas and other events where their trainings are put to good use.

Its director, Clara Balaguer, said: "Art, and by extension cinema, is not merely the luxury of a chosen few but an avenue for everyone to be able to expand their ability to think critically, solve problems creatively and even make a decent living. It can make a difference."

For the "Rashomon" remake, Ribo is in the process of refining his script translation. The OCD has plans to raise funds for the completion of the workshops through Kickstater, a crowd-sourcing platform based in the US that funds creative projects.

One of the plans of OCD is to come up with a youth film center where trainings for young aspiring local filmmakers who want to follow Ribo's lead could go on and which the School of the President can use in their various projects, including the completion of Ribo's version of "Rashomon."

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")