The indie circuit never ceases to surprise moviegoers. While many have practically given up on mainstream movies, it is believed independent films keep getting better and better.

Whether as part of an ongoing festival or just churning out films for regular screening, the indies, or as some pundits prefer to call “movies produced by small companies,” make people line up for them.

Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral continues to rake in viewers. Produced by the collaborative effort between TBA and Globe Studios, the story of the young boy general who died at the Battle of Tirad Pass has reportedly had standing-room only (SRO) screenings since it opened in cinemas on 5 September.

While it is easy for major studios to claim that their latest chick flick bannered by bankable love teams breached the P100-million mark, it looks like Goyo may believably do the same, even with no love teams and relatively less promotional stunts. And by the looks of it, the planned Manuel L. Quezon biopic in this epic hero trilogy is going to push through after the success of Heneral Luna (2015) and Goyo.

And the indies are yet again giving moviegoers a curious offering and if it proves to be a good one, it could start indie mavericks cashing in on this genre.

All set for sci-fi

Science-fiction is one technically daunting and intimidating genre. It requires a coherent mind to put together a plot that would make viewers believe in the film’s premise. On top of this is making this make-believe world a believable fictional reality via excellent visual effects (VFX).

Prime examples of technically excellent and critically acclaimed science-fiction films are Gravity and the Matrix trilogy.

An entry to the annual ToFarm Film Festival, which runs from 12 to 19 September in selected cinemas, dabbles in the genre. Keith Sicat’s Alimuom (Vapors) sets itself in a world where the citizens live in regulated environments called biodomes and whose actions are dictated upon by what they can and cannot do. Farming and related industries are outlawed and outsourced in other planets as Earth had been ruled uninhabitable.

It stars names who have made their mark in the indie circuit: Epy Quizon, Dido de la Paz and Ina Feleo. The trailer does not attract the viewer with all the standard Hollywood VFX shenanigans. As a matter of fact, it borders on anime-fantasy with a warrior character wielding a weapon cut straight out of an online game.

It is not the first in a long time that such undertaking has been done. Last year, Cinemalaya had Jason Paul Laxamana’s take on artificial intelligence via his entry Instalado. Its precedent had a young lad from a poor family who dreams of having his own “intelligence” chip inserted in his brain so he will ace his studies, graduate and live a more comfortable life, far from the modest household he grew up in.

The movie tackled how intelligence can literally be bought and installed overnight­ — no lamp burning throughout the night needed.

INA Feleo stars in the indie sci-fi movie ‘Alimuom.’

A matter of vision

Production of movies with such premise usually demand a grand scale given that it is heavy on world-building. But world-building does not necessarily require large sums of money. It’s a matter of creativity and resourcefulness.

Instalado and Alimuom may not appear picture-perfect. For sure, they will not be. But props must be given to the people who dare to write, produce and direct such a movie. They know they will get bashed for their daring. Still, for them to go on with a measly grant of a million pesos from festival organizers and come up with a decent output is still a feat.

The more important point is their daring will do local showbiz a favor in the long run.

Visionaries, before they are revered, are vilified for their ideas initially seemed ridiculous by many. But knowing that their vision could awaken a sense of purpose, they persevere and eventually prove their doubters wrong.

Now that the indies are banded in their common goal of providing that much-desired alternative to the predictable, and more important, provide viewers with more commonsensical yet engaging storytelling, it is fast becoming an exciting time to hope.

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