Blanka marks Japanese documentary director, Kohki Hasei's first feature length. It stars Filipino YouTube talent, Cydel Gabutero in her first on-screen appearance. Following the story of Blanka, an orphaned girl who make ends meet by stealing in order to save enough money to buy a 'mother' she meets Peter, a blind musician, who teaches her to use her gift of singing to make a proper living.
Being a Filipino myself, Blanka embodies an honest portrayal of a young girl's struggles. Her situation is one of many children in the Philippines. Yet, Hasei depicts her character as neither a hero or a girl worth pitying. She carries at the same time, the innocence of a child by wanting to buy a 'mother' but the maturity of an adult by earning money through her own ways and caring for the blind Peter. Gabutero (Blanka) is a natural on screen, emphasized by Hasei's documentary background.
What makes Blanka worth the watch is, despite its rather dramatic premise, it prefers laughter over tears. Blanka and Peter are a duo that is a joy to watch on screen. Cinematographer Onishi Takeyuki captures the grim slums of Manila with vibrant colors. There are warm overtones and everything is full of sunshine.
This is an honest film that looks at finding happiness during tough times through the help of a friend, or rather, a family.