by Richard Kuipers
November 3, 2008

"Boses" (Philippines) A Cinemalaya presentation of an Erasto Films production, in cooperation with UNICEF, Casa San Miguel, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Council for the Welfare of Children, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Film Development Council of the Philippines. Produced by Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil. Executive producers, Ongkeko-Marfil, Martin P. Marfil. Directed by Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil. Screenplay, Froi Medina, Rody Vera. With: Coke Bolipata, Julian Duque, Cherry Pie Picache, Ricky Davao, Tala Santos, Meryll Soriano.

Music mends the troubled souls of an abused child and a reclusive violin player in the uplifting "Boses." Filipina helmer Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil's second feature is a sensitively handled plea for the rights of children and tackles unpleasant truths with great integrity. Shown in schools and community venues since July and with a commercial release planned for late November, pic, starring real-life violin master Coke Bolipata and his student prodigy, Julian Duque, is a good addition to midlevel fests.

Losing his ability to speak after being beaten by his father, 7-year-old Onyok (Duque) is removed to a children's shelter run by the saintly Amanda (Cherry Pie Picache, "Foster Child"). Staying nearby is her brother, Ariel (Bolipata), a concert violinist traumatized by the death of his girlfriend. Drawn to the sound of Ariel's playing, the boy takes supervised lessons and reveals an extraordinary gift for the instrument. Placing the expressive face and brilliant playing of Duque centerstage, pic is enlivened by a lovely friendship that grows between Onyok and plucky girl Shirley (Tala Santos), and by the poignant rehabilitation of the boy's father. Tech package is simple and effective.

Camera (color, HD), Nap Jamir; editor, Orlean Tan; music, Coke Bolipata, Jourdann O. Petalver; production designer, Bianca Gonzalez. Reviewed at Hawaii Film Festival (Asian Showcase), Oct. 11, 2008. Tagalog, English dialogue. Running time: 98 MIN.