Celso and Cora

Gary Kildea
1 hour and 49 minutes

A feature length documentary about a young couple and their two children living in a squatter settlement in the Philippines' capital, Manila.

They make a living selling cigarettes on the sidewalk outside a downtown hotel. These are poor people, but the film deals as much in individual psychology and the universal politics of family life as it does with this particular family's everyday efforts, against all odds, to keep feeding their children. The story of their lives over a three-month period is constructed, without commentary, from a compilation of detail, episode by episode, like the exposition of a dramatic narrative. as with many fiction films, Celso and Cora is dialogue-based:the language is Tagalog with English subtitles.

Cora and Celso earn their living selling cigarettes outside a downtown hotel, in defiance of city regulations. The film follows their lives over a three month period, beginning with Cora's attempt to find a new room for the family after they have been evicted. Later, Celso and Cora face a crisis in their own relationship aggravated by the stresses of their daily lives.

The film grants itself neither the pretence of being objective nor that the film-makers are invisible. By the end of the film, the viewer feels she or he has in a small way come to know Celso and Cora, the intensity of their lives, the circumstances in which they live.

Rather than just a report on poverty, this is a universal story of people experiencing everyday events with a mixture of humor, irritation, weariness, and courage.

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