Saw this on my table the other day and thought it an invite to some big time lifestyle-oriented kasosyalan. But the matte black envelope sealed with a candlewax stamp bearing the initials EM turned out to be from the director Erik Matti, and inside was a four-page letter inviting me to the screening of his first full-length feature in three years (his last was the Bong Revilla-starrer Exodus). It was not lifestyle material but it is shushal: by invitation only for a one-time public screening. And big time: it will be at the CCP.
The film is called The Arrival, and it is the director-writer-cook’s most personal film. So personal that the four-page letter was written in longhand. Or so I thought. I texted a friend to ask if Erik indeed painstakingly wrote each invitation. “Please say yes,” I added. Wouldn’t that have been so chic? And I remember Erik saying while on the road to drop me off at home na sumasakit na kamay niya sa kakasulat ng imbitasyon! Of course I learned last night that 500 people have been invited to the event. It would indeed be chic if he had written each one of the invites longhand personally, but it would also be kind of crazy (although producing your own film in this day and age and not charging your audience for it is already kind of crazy).
“Finally I have made a film that waited for me without the hounding of a playdate," Erik wrote. "A film understanding enough to let me be and not rush me in my erratic and laidback ways. A film that not for once questioned or judged me at anything that I make it tell. A film that has trusted me all the way over and beyond it ever could.
“Finally, I have produced a film that respected its creator despite its weaknesses and flaws, its arrogance and conceit."
In the past three years, he has tried his hand at writing a book (still unpublished), opened and run a successful bar (Mogwai at Cubao X) and created its menu, directed TVCs, and shamelessly performed a lap dance wearing only a pair of skimpy animal-print trunks in a promo short for this year's Cinemalaya. "All these just to satisfy my need to create."
The Arrival looks like a small film with a small-time main character. "A fictional sort of documentary-type narrative feature that tells the coming-of-age story of a 46-year-old loner named Leo."
“Is it possible to follow a person’s uneventful, almost insignificant life and still make it exciting enough to be a movie that an audience would want to experience from start to finish?”
We’ll see. Although we already heard from those who’ve seen it in advance that it’s quite a triumph. Anyway, from the invite alone, we’re already impressed.