Cinemalaya Movie Review: K’na the Dreamweaver


K’na the Dreamweaver provides exposure for an indigenous culture that would otherwise only be shown in travel ads and offers captivating compositions thanks to the natural beauty of its setting, but it doesn’t fully explore the story of its titular character and settles as a conventional bittersweet Filipino folktale.

When Kana, a young T’boli woman, becomes a dreamweaver, she has the chance to weave together her village’s warring clans. But, will she give up true love to do so?

K’na the Dreamweaver is a classic Asian folktale, wherein mythology, history and tradition merge in a love story.

The movie owes its captivating visuals from the natural beauty of its landscape. Camerawork provides well framed compositions of the village and scenes. More importantly, it made an effort to provide a good look at the T’boli culture which most Filipinos wouldn’t see beyond textbooks and travel ads. The production design, especially the costumes and set pieces, is detailed.

The cast is a mix of reliable veteran and young talents, most of whom are regular players in the indie circle. They made an effort to learn the language and converse naturally in a native dialect.

Beyond these elements however, K’na the Dreamweaver doesn’t offer much. The plot is straightforward and the pacing is tediously slow. This would have been understandable if the script added more depth to the characters, which in turn would inject some emotional heft to their narrative, but sadly talents were wasted.

The journey of K’na from a chieftain’s daughter to a revered dreamweaver is lacking. Her development could have benefited from more actual weaving rather than just dreaming. Her love story is unconvincing as the progress of their relationship is shown through muted scenes where the actors stand and pretend to smile at each other. It would have been better if the movie explored the relationship between an Abaca fiber maker and a weaver.

The subplots – involving blood feuds, family shame, and burden of leadership – are all ripe for commentary on Filipino traditions but are treated as passing events neatly tucked away through exposition.

In the end, K’na the Dreamweaver is a bittersweet though emotionally lacking love story. The movie had the potential to stand side by side with other Asian epics dominated by China and Japan if it had the funding.

Still, K’na the Dreamweaver is an important piece of cultural film-making. In an age where indigenous culture – which is already overshadowed by foreign influences in the first place – continues to slide into oblivion, it’s important to have a reminder of what the Philippines once was and a glimpse of its beginnings before it became a colonial seat of power hungry foreign rulers.

My Rating: 6/10

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