Short Film Review: Learning Tagalog with Kayla

Still from Learning Tagalog with Kayla

With an aesthetic very typical of the open television from the eighties, Kayla presents herself as a Tagalog instructor —the official language of the Phillipines—. Kayla starts by teaching the viewer conversation phrases and common expressions like: “Hello”, “How are you?”, but when she gets to the “I’m fine” part, doubt shows in her eyes.

Without dropping her instructor role, she takes you to her day to day routine while being locked down in her home: her attempts with bakery, her bad relationship with exercise, how she wants to return her cats to the shelter when they are misbehaving, the experience of sharing one single bathroom with her two roommates and her favorite character from Final Fantasy IX.

Kayla Abuda Gang is the director, screenwriter, director of photography, editor, colorist, and protagonist in this short film inspired by her pandemic confinement. During its 4 minute duration, she introduces you to her everyday life in a mundane representation, but still valid if you’re currently living these times without more complications beyond eventual despair and sadness. It’s a nice reminder that it is ok to find little moments of pleasure for those who have the privilege of tranquility in their monotony.

Kayla is genuinely charming as the protagonist and her visual style stands out in a story that could have felt boring under someone else's interpretation, as a director I recommend keeping an eye on her next works. Learning Tagalog with Kayla premiered in this year’s edition of SXSW.

This review was originally published in Spanish, read it here.

Marketeer turned into a film critic. Both cinephile and fangirl. bylines GirlsAtFilms.com and Nerditud. Personal blog ElEquipajedeK.com.

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