The Uncomfortable “Iska”

19 Nov

The opening scene of “Iska” was unusually long. The titular character was struggling to slip a t-shirt over her grandson on the autism spectrum. It was all too familiar to me, something I experienced with my eldest son as a toddler. It left me emotional and I remember thinking, “Ano ba! Umpisa pa lang ito!

Ted Boborol is well-known as a director of feel-good, kilig rom-coms. His “Iska” takes a darker path. Iska’s life is a series of scarring tragedies, so different from mine. She is stronger than I could ever be; but we share the universal need to be with and provide for those we love the most.

Ruby Ruiz (whose portrayal earned multiple awards here and abroad) will draw you into the character’s strength amid the misery. I remember sitting at the CCP during the Cinemalaya screening, in tearless mourning, hoping that this tragic situation stays fictional and rooting for a happy ending that will never come. My husband and I had a late dinner after the film — nangailangan kami pareho ng “pagpag”.

Direk Ted captured profound autism honestly, thanks to the prowess of the young actor Pryle Gura. Seeing this may be uncomfortable for those who think that the autism spectrum is filled with quirky, socially-awkward savants ala Sheldon. The hardship is real, as many in the Autism Society Philippines community know from experience. We need to inspire the courage to be uncomfortable to teach society about poverty, disabilities, autism and other conditions the sheltered do not understand. Discomfort is part of our path to growth.

Get ready to be “uncomfortable”. “Iska” starts streaming on Netflix today! FOR ADULTS ONLY

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