Roque Federizon Lee, a.k.a. ROXLEE is a Filipino animator, filmmaker, cartoonist, painter, rock star, and many considered as the God Father of the Filipino young filmmakers. The man who created “Cesar Asar” together with his brother Mon Lee. Apart from this Lee brothers is their nephew Topel Lee, a film, TV and music director of GMA Networks. He started out as a cartoonist—first contributing cartoons to Jingle Magazine, and then doing the comic strip Cesar Asar for Manila Bulletin (one of the most popular broadsheet in the Philippines) in collaboration with his brother Monlee from 1980 to 2000. Roxlee is one of the founding members of Animagination now evolved into Animahenasyon and Sinekalye, a group of filmmakers taking the films and music into the street. He is a pioneer of independent film animation in the Philippines. Working outside the "factory" system, usually with only one or two collaborators, he’s a magician who can instantly conjure up an original piece working only with the barest of materials, usually with just pen and paper and ink. Spontaneity and irreverent situational ideas are paramount for him over fanciful techniques and linear storytelling. His edgy approach is surreal sense of humor . What is incalculable is his originality as an animator and filmmaker, which can be considered as an attempt to create a modern Filipino style and philosophy of filmmaking. His early works were done in super-8 film—divided between hand-drawn scratchy works like "The Great Smoke", and pixilated live action pieces like "Juan Gapang". Both are now considered classics of the independent film movement of the 1980s. In the 2000s, he reinvented himself as a digital filmmaker. His "12 commandments of filmmaking" has turned him into some kind of guru, an inspiration to filmmakers young and old. Although he never worked in the animation industry, Roxlee’s independent approach to filmmaking has influenced a whole generation of younger animators, many of whom first took up courses at the Mowelfund Film Institute in the 80s and 90s. Some of these animators are now stalwarts in the industry. Roxlee also has a modest but keen international following, mostly in Western Europe, Japan and Singapore. Maybe computers and 3D animation software may have made Roxlee’s animation antiquated and old school, but he has proven that anyone can be an animator, as long as he has pen, paper, ink, interesting ideas, and the will to get it done. Roxlee is also onto oil painting and currently finished book entitled “Cesar Asar in the Planet of the Noses,” a collection of his cartoons and short stories.
Major Works and Exhibitions
2012- Along with other Filipino artists at Sharjah Bienalle
2011- A Twist of the Past for the Present + Heat Studies - University of the Philippines Film Center
2008 - Filipino participant at Busan Bienalle Art Festival
2009 - "Green Rocking Chair" at Rotterdam and Singapore International Film Festival
2004 - Exhibition of over 50 Cartoon Paintings at Singapore International Film Festival
1995 - Roxlee retrospective at Animagination, First Filipino Animation Festival, CCP
1994 - Roxlee retrospective at 18th Hong Kong International Film Festival
1992 to 1993 - Fellowship Grant at Tokyo, Japan
1992 - Roxlee retrospective at Image Forum (Tokyo's Premier Experimental Film Art House)
1990 - Retrospective at Hamburg, Germany
1990 - Selection of Roxlee films in "No-Budget Film Festival" in Hamburg, Germany
1989 - "Spit/Optik" Premieres in Berlinale Forum Section with 8 other RP short films
Organizational Affiliations and Positions
2001 - 2004 - Executive Committee Member of National Committee on Cinema - NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts)
1980 to 2000 - comic strip contributor ("Cesar Asar") at Manila Bulletin
1995 to 1997 - Cartoonist for 1st Yamagata International Film Festival
1978 to 1980 - Cartoonist for Jingle Magazine
Honors and awards
2010 - Lifetime Achievement Award - Animahenasyon - Animation Council of the Philippines Incorporated (ACPI)
2008 - a Tribute at .MOV Digital Film Festival
2006 - Daluyan Awardee (progressive leaders and pioneers in the independent film community in the Philippines) - Philippine Independent Filmmakers' Multi-purpose Cooperative (IFC) and Robinsons Galleria Movieworld
1987 - "Juan Gapang" - Best Experimental Short Film - Gawad Urian Awards
1988 - Best Student Film - Film Academy of the Philippines
1987 to 1992 - Annually won at Gawad CCP (Cultural Center of the Phils.' Short Film Contest)
1986 - Honorable Mention - Experimental Short Film - Kelibia Short Film Festival, Tunisia
1982 to 1985 - Annually won at Experimental Cinema of the Phils. (ECP)
2008 - Green Rocking Chair (Juan Baybayin Story) - creative documentary
2008 - Monkey and the Turtle - animation
2007 - Bahay Kubo on Wheels - documentary
2007 - Musika Dong - documentary
2006 - La Pula (Red Chief) - shorts
2006 - 35 MM Man - experimental
2006 - Left Turn (Juan Kaliwa) - animation
2005 - Ghost of Rocker Janis - experimental shorts
2005 - Romeo Must Rock - documentary
2005 - Batumbuhay (Live Rock) - documentary
2004 - Two Birds Hit with one Big Stone - experimental
2003 - Haus of Sing - experimental
2001 - Tronong Puti 2 - shorts
2001 - Nose
2000 - Juan Gulay - shorts
1999 - Cesar Asar - full length film
1993 - Harajuko - experimental
1993 - Tito's Wedding - shorts
1990 - Mix 1 & 2 - experimental
1989 - Moron's Monolog - experimental
1989 - Moron's
1989 - Spit/Optik - animation
1989 - Pencil
1989 - Juan Toga - shorts
1988 - Juan Tunog - experimental
1987 - Prayle (Friars)
1987 - Juan Gapang (Johnny Crawl) - experimental
1987 - Ink - animation
1987 - Lizard, or How to Perform in Front of a Reptile - experimental
1985 - ABCD - animation
1985 - Inserts - animation
1984 - Tao at Kambing (Man and Goat) - animation
1984 - The Great Smoke - animation
1984 - Tatlong 'A'(Three A's) - animation
1983 - Tronong Puti(White Throne) - shorts
Rox Lee's "The 12 Commandments of Independent Filmmakers"
1. Thous shall shoot only original movies with original storyline. Shoot whatever available medium, what is important is the concept.
2. Be resourceful, always look for potential sponsors. Shoot films with limited budget but with unlimited ideas. If possible, thou shall only have a maximum of 2 takes per scene.
3. Thou shall not be blinded by the stars. If you can eliminate the star complex the better.
4. Thou shall not patronize very commercial and trashy movies.
5. Thou shall not limit yourself. Always aim for the international release of your films. Remember, your film can be your passport.
6. Thou shall not be disrespectful of other filmmakers even if they make bad films.
7. Thou shall not be greedy. Share your equipments, film stocks and ideas with other aspiring filmmakers.
8. Thou shall not lose hope even if you have little audience for now, maybe the bigger audience will be the next generation to come.
9. Thou shall not always aspire for financial gain but always strive for cinematic excellence.
10. Thou shall not be bothered by bad reviews of your films. Put in mind there are bad critics everywhere.
11. Thou shall not have the feeling of a great director. But humble and recognize the existence of the Supreme Being above.
12. Thou shall not lose the passion of making films, just work and work up to the last breath.