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Short Film Review: Toss Coin (2023) by Cathy Garcia-Sampana
Short Film Review: Toss Coin (2023) by Cathy Garcia-Sampana

Short Film Review: Toss Coin (2023) by Cathy Garcia-Sampana

Toss Coin proves Garcia-Sampana’s knack for directing appealing rom-coms, even in such a brief time.

“Hong Kong in the Lens by Asian Directors” is a program supported by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, which includes a series of microfilms directed by renowned directors from Asia. “Toss Coin” is one of those titles, directed by Cathy Garcia-Sampana, best known for directing romantic comedy and family drama films produced and distributed by Star Cinema. Her films have frequently become some of the highest-grossing films in the Philippines, such as “The Hows of Us” (2018), and “Hello, Love, Goodbye” (2019)

The film begins in a very intriguing style, with real scenes from Hong Kong which are animated on top of the actual shots, in a rather impressive sequence which also includes subtle music and narration. The next scene has a man singing on the street in front of a rather big graffiti, while a woman is taking photos of him. A girl in yellow and a rather short skirt appears next, tossing a coin on the air and soon interacting with the singer, although with some tension. The singer then talks to his mother on his phone, while we learn that the whole thing is taking place in Sai Kung.

He then finds a video of the aforementioned girl on social media, where it turns out the whole thing was for her ex-boyfriend. The singer, however, seems to like her and immediately goes to the destination the video is mentioning, although it seems to change constantly.

Cathy Garcia-Sampana directs a short film that unfolds in two narrative axes. The first one concerns a romantic story which is presented in cheeky fashion, both for the plot-twist repetition that appears close to the finale and the phone-on-screen trope. This last aspect highlights the mentality of both protagonists, thus creating empathy towards them, even in such a brief time.

The second is the road-movie/tour guide aspect, which aims at highlighting the attraction of Hong Kong, in a style that is pleasant to the eye, but also looks too much like an advertisement on occasion. The almost constant music also moves in the same path, as does the rather polished cinematography by Louie Sampana and the rapid editing by Marya Ignacio.

The acting is in perfect resonance with the film’s aesthetics, with Alexa Ilacad playing the feisty and somewhat weird girl and KD Estrada the starry-eyed singer nicely.

Although its promotional aspects are too intense on occasion, “Toss Coin” emerges as a rather pleasant film to watch. At the same time, it proves Garcia-Sampana’s knack for directing appealing rom-coms, even in such a brief time.