Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc RIP
Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc, film critics from the Philippines and Slowenia respectively, were shot during a robbery in Tioseco´s house in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Tuesday night. According to local news media, three gunman who were let into the house by a new maid, waited for the two who returned around 10 pm, shot both of them dead, and left with their car, money, jewels and a laptop computer. Alexis was only 27, Nika was 30, and about to leave for her home country Slovenia the next day. A television report in Tagalog is here.
This murder is so heineous, so cruel and so pointless that it could almost be the plot of one of the recent Philippine Independent movies, that both Alexis and Nika did so much to introduce and promote internationally. Nika, as editor of the Slovenian film magazine Ekran, had worked on an important special issue on Lav Diaz, and Alexis edited the excellent website Criticine, that is a treasure trove of interviews, reviews and reports on the cinema of Southeast Asia. Apart from his extensive, thorough interviews with film makers such as Lav Diaz, John Torres or Khavn de la Cruz, it might be Alexis´ most important contribution to international film culture to put the cinema of the whole region internationally on the map – and not just that of his home country, the Philippines.
Alexis had grown up in Canada, and had returned to the Philippines to run his fathers Liquid Petroleum Gas Business. He got fascinated by the local independent cinema when watching Lav Diaz´ Batang Westside, later becoming an important proponent of the director. While the Philippino films that are currently successful at international festivals are often neo-realist depictions of poverty and slum life in the Philippines, both Alexis and Nika were looking for more off-beat and avantgarde work to write on.
When searching for the many traces that Alexis left on the internet, you see him graduating from entries into the Internet Movie Data Base to a now defunct website on Philippine cinema, to pieces for the Philippine Inquirer and other Philippine dailies and magazines, and finally criticine.com and his personal blog Concentrated Nonsense. He also taught at the University Of Asia and the Pacific and worked for international film festivals. Some of his most widely read pieces include an open letter to his girl friend for Rogue magazine and Wishful Thinking for Philippine Cinema.
Maybe it was the fact that he had spend so much time abroad that he had the good sense to focus in his work on Southeast Asian cinema as such. It made him one of the most important intermediators between the film culture of this part of the world and the international film scene. Yet he will not only be missed as such, but also as the pleasant, funny, smart and inspiring person that he was.
Alexis and I were in the organizing comittee of last year´s Annual Southeast Asian Cinemas Conference in Manila, and we met a couple of times at his house on Times Street in the West Triangle barangay of Quezon City, where he was shot last night, over pizzas and beers. Nika I did not know so well, as she had just moved to the Philippines recently, but the one time we met in person at the Dot Mov festival in Manila, we bonded instantly, and I regret that I did not get to see more of her. However, she was – in a weird six-degrees-of-seperation-kind of situation – a friend of the current tennant of our apartment in Berlin, and it was via her that I last heard from Nika – well-wishes and the then-amusing fact that she had bought a cook book I published in the Philippines, and had actually tried some of the recipes…
All this is very hard to contemplate now. I have been away from Manila for three months, and that might be the reason, why I find it impossible to get my head around the fact that Alexis and Nika are not with us anymore. To me they´re still very much alive, as in this painful-to-watch YouTube-Video, that shows Alexis they way I remember him: handsome, charming, engaging, determined; Nika is also visible in the background.
I cannot bring myself to look at the pictures of the two that an internet search brings up and I will not link to the sensationalistic report from one Philippine television station that dwells on pictures of the crime scene that are just revolting to watch, so here is the photograph of Alexis that he had on his personal website: