It’s hard to resist a good mystery. The Snyder boys in the film 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten ooze mystery, from the film’s trailer to its promotional posters: pale skin against starchy uniforms; unspeaking, brooding, with just the barest hint of a smirk. They draw you into a world you don’t quite know, and we become the actor Khalil Ramos — the middleman in this situation — in that way. We don’t really know where we’re headed, but we’re going in, anyway.
2 Cool is the latest film by director Petersen Vargas; it’s his first full-length feature for this year’s Cinema One Originals. It tells the story of a friendless boy named Felix (Ramos) whose life takes a turn after the arrival of the half-American Snyder brothers (Ethan Salvador and Jameson Blake). Without giving too much away, the ’90s-set film explores themes of growing up and friendships that come with it — all set to the textured background of Angeles City, a place that has come to be known for its red light districts and many Amerasian children.
Made more exciting is the fact that 24-year-old Petersen is a young filmmaker to watch out for, having made his mark in so many ways since his years studying film at the University of the Philippines. Back in 2015, his 20-minute thesis film Lisyun qng Geografia traveled the world, going to film festivals in Mindanao, Pampanga, Thailand and Mumbai. When it arrived at last year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival (which put focus on short films), it earned Petersen the Best Director Award. Petersen has been nominated for the Gawad Urian Awards and the Cinemanila International Film Festival and won Best Short Film at the 26th Gawad CCP for Short Narrative.
And so we unspool Petersen’s latest intriguing creation, a gritty slice of life in Pampanga, written by his co-Kapampangan Jason Paul Laxamana. (Laxamana recently directed the dark comedy Mercury is Mine, which competed at this year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival.) Just before the film’s premiere, we talked to Petersen about the wealth found in exploring one’s roots, the appeal of adolescence as storytelling device, and why love fades but friendship is, well, forever.