IN BAGANE Fiola’s short film Achup Boulevard, a slasher is on the loose in Davao City. But the danger is magnified through hushed discussions that elevate the tale as a kind of urban legend. It’s a fantastical concept given that the city prides itself from being one of the safest. But it is this unlikeliness that makes the story – the possibility of a roaming serial killer with a machete – a more fascinating one. It would be interesting to see the short film with an expanded narrative, perhaps a playful twist of the film’s title, which has become one of Davao’s famous phrases. 

The film’s play around the subject of fear, making it comical at times, evokes this “ngilngig” concept envisioned by the Davao Ngilngig Film Festival, an exhibition of horror short films, which is set to return this October after a hiatus last year. Achup Boulevard was also screened as part of the Mindanao Film Festival and Cinema Rehiyon in Cavite last year. 

Ngilngig, or its derivative “ngiga” (from ngilngiga) has been more commonly used (especially among Cebuanos) to refer to something that is “kuyaw” (awesome). But the word originally refers to something that elicits horror or ghastliness, something that alludes to the macabre.

The word could be translated something that is “shockingly repellent,” “gross”, “gruesome”, or “grim”. Using “ngilngig” to banner a horror film festival seems like an interesting, exciting and fun idea given word’s cultural affinity to and identity with the bisaya.

Included in the film program for the Davao Ngilngig festival are workshop films during the Davao Ngilngig Film Workshop last June. Some of these town tales and superstitions are told in the narratives of the short films produced during the workshop: a supernatural being that preys on dead bodies, a playful take on the subject of menstruation, the phenomenon of “mino” or getting lost in a cyclical manner, and online bullying.

While this year’s theme revolve around town tales and superstitions, festival director Fiola said that the ngilngig concept could be thematically diverse this year to cater to more innovative storytelling and diverse stories that expand the horror as genre and concept. (PR)