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The Independent Critic

Gary Jumawan, Nack Nack Abugyan, Balugto Necosia, Waway Saway
S.J. Finlay
74 Mins.
Buffalo 8

 Movie Review: Boy From Nowhere 
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It would be nearly impossible to get more grassroots than the narrative feature debut of S.J. Finlay, Boy From Nowhere. Premiering on Amazon today from indie distributor Buffalo 8, Boy From Nowhere tells the story of 14-year-old Gary (Gary Jumawan), a young and vulnerable Filipino boy who loses everything after an attack on his tribal village destroys his home and kills his father. Desperate to find his mother and her tribe, Gary battles hunger and solitude when he sets out on a perilous journey through some of the most dangerous parts of the southern Philippines. 

At first, Gary gets caught up in the dangerous world of gangs. When that life threatens to unravel, Gary finds himself brainwashed into becoming a child soldier for a local rebel faction known as the Mindanao Peoples Front. Achingly vulnerable and malleable, Gary's fight for survival is daily and often moment by moment. It's when he experiences even further loss that he is led to find a more meaningful purpose for his life. 

A remarkable debut from Finlay, Boy From Nowhere is shot guerilla style and was actually shot in the most dangerous parts of the southern Philippines where such groups as Abu Sayyaf, MNLF, and the NPA are prevalent. Boy From Nowhere features an ensemble of non-actors including Gary Jumawan, whose performance here is an absolute stunner. However, the entire cast is strong throughout Boy From Nowhere and there was never a single moment in the film when I wasn't absolutely mesmerized. Shot on film utilizing only natural light, Boy From Nowhere is, quite simply, a cinematic wonder. 

Finlay avoids histrionics in telling this story based on true events. No histrionics are needed. Instead, Finlay captures the harsh and unpredictable realities of war, the stark brutality of human behavior, and the almost unfathomable risks that someonemay take to find their place in the world.

Finlay writes, directs, and shoots Boy From Nowhere with an emphasis on honesty and barebones storytelling over any extraneous stylings. It's difficult to describe the incredible realism present in every frame here, though simultaneously it must be noted that Finlay captures an uncommon beauty of this nation for which he's openly expressed having a passion. Original music by the always extraordinary Andrew Judah perfectly complements Finlay's story in all the right places as Finlay lays bare a story that is both intimate and universal. 

Boy From Nowhere picked up the Audience Award at the Lonely Wolf International Film Festival and an Exceptional Merit prize at the Docs Without Borders Film Festival. Finding its distribution home with Buffalo 8 is exceptional with Buffalo 8 well equipped to help this film find the audience it so very much deserves. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic