PEP Guide to Cinema One Originals 2012

Auraeus Solito's Baybayin stars (L-R) Assunta de Rossi, Adrian Sebastian and Alessandra de Rossi. (CLICK HERE to view the schedule of screenings at Robinsons Galleria and Edsa Shangri-La)

The 8th edition of Cinema One Originals offers 13 films that promise to be “brave, bold, original.”

This 2012, moviegoers have the choice to watch the films at Robinsons Galleria from November 28 to December 9 or at the Edsa Shangri-La from November 29 to December 4.

Three films were given P2 million production grants each and were classified under the Cinema One Plus category. These are Auraeus Solito's Baybayin, Adolfo Alix Jr.'s Mater Dolorosa and Richard Somes' Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi.

Meanwhile, ten other films received P1 million each and were classified under the Cinema One Currents category. These are Aberya by Christian Linaban, Anak Araw by Gym Lumbera, Ang Paglalakbay Ng Mga Bituin Sa Gabing Madilim by Arnel Mardoquio, Catnip by Kevin Dayrit, Edsa XXX by Khavn De La Cruz, Mamay Umeng by Dwein Baltazar, Melodrama Negra by Ma. Isabel Legarda, Palitan by Ato Bautista, Pascalina by Pam Miras, and Slumber Party by Emmanuel Dela Cruz.

(CLICK HERE to view the schedule of screenings at Robinsons Galleria and Edsa Shangri-La)

Aside from this year’s finalists, award-winning Filipino films are also included in the lineup. These include the anti-human trafficking film Alagwa (starring Jericho Rosales and Bugoy Cariño), the Andres Bonifacio biopic Supremo (starring Alfred Vargas), and the crime drama Graceland (starring Arnold Reyes and Ella Guevarra).

MEKANIKO NI MONICA BACKS OUT. Last May, it was announced that Cesar Hernando’s Mekaniko ni Monica was supposed to be part of the Cinema One Currents category.

However, during the press conference of Cinema One, it was revealed that the filmmaker decided to back out from the competition.

Ronald Arguelles, Cinema One Originals channel head and festival director, explained: “Nag back out siya kasi medyo mahirap gawin yung pelikula. Period film kasi ito at nahirapan siya na buuin ang pelikula. Hindi niya akalain na ganun ang reality ng pagbuo ng pelikula. Formally, nagbigay siya ng letter kung bakit hindi niya magagawa ang movie.”

Mekaniko ni Monica is set in the ‘50s and depicts about a man who struggles between fighting for his love for country and love for a special woman.

As a result, Khavn dela Cruz’s rock opera EDSA XXX was able to join the film festival.

The awarding ceremony of Cinema One is slated to take place on December 3.

CINEMA ONE PLUS (P2 million budget)

BAYBAYIN (THE PALAWAN SCRIPT)is a unique tale of two half-sisters who fall in love with a man who can’t hear and speak to them.

Stars: Assunta de Rossi, Alessandra de Rossi and introducing Adrian Sebastian
Director: Auraeus Solito

Set in the pristine coasts of El Nido, Palawan, Baybayin (The Palawan Script) tells the story of two half-sisters who fall in love with one man who is deaf mute. Having no way of communicating with the love of their lives, both women learn Baybayin, an ancient Palawanon script, to prove that love can speak even in silence.

During the presscon, Direk Auraeus explained that Baybayin is part of his “Palawan trilogy,” which he considers as a “trilogy of thought and philosophy.” He elaborates: “Busong is philosophy of the Palawanons, Baybayin is the culture. We have the most ancient alphabets and genetically, the Palawanons came from the Tabon man, the oldest bones of whom were found in the Philippines. In this film, you will understand completely the culture of the Palawanons. The third part, Sumbang, is based the origin myth of our people.”

He also revealed that he will start shooting for the third instalment of his “Palawan trilogy” in 2013. “I’ll be filming by early January. History yun ng South Palawan so ancient times. I have to build a whole village so big budget siya at may special effects kasi may mythical creatures. P10 million nga ang budget.”

Going back to Baybayin, Direk Auraeus said that a baybayin expert authenticated the native script used in the film. He narrated, “Sa script mismo nakasulat yung baybayin para alam ng mga actors kung paano isulat. My grandmother taught me how to write it. Natakot nga ako na baka mali but the baybayin expert said everything was correct.”

The award-winning director says that he was impressed by the performance of newbie actor Adrian Sebastian. “Adrian was fantastic because he writes a whole paragraph [of baybayin] on the back of the two sisters and it was flawless. Hindi ko na-audition ang pagsulat ng actors, e.”

Direk Auraeus revealed that he initially wanted Piolo Pascual to portray the lover of the two sisters. “It was supposed to be Piolo Pascual but schedule wise, hindi pwede. He loved the script and he liked the idea, he met with Mr. [Johnny] Manahan but when we saw his schedule, we would finish next year so it was impossible.”

MARIPOSA SA HAWLA NG GABI is a tale of an innocent woman who unravels horrible truths while in search of her long lost sister in the city. The film is set in 1994.

Stars: Erich Gonzales, Alfred Vargas, Joel Torre, Maria Isabel Lopez, John Lapus and Mark Gil
Director: Richard Somes

“You’re gonna see a kick-ass Erich dito,” promised Direk Richard Somes regarding his film Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi. A teaser of the film shows Erich firing a gun and looking deglamorized for the role of Maya. Direk Richard said that his lead character is a provincial girl who stumbles upon horrors that she never imagined. “Sa lahat ng pelikula ko malakas palagi ang babae pero I think ito ang pinakamalakas sa mga babae na ginawa ko…I love women kasi (laughs) kaya gusto ko lagi babae ang karakter ko.”

The director says he chose Alfred Vargas because of his body build and he needed someone who could look similar to Layne Staley, the vocalist of the grunge band Alice in Chains.

MATER DOLOROSA is a story about a matriarch with a non-stereotypical profession, living a dark, shadowy life in Manila City’s underground.

Stars: Gina Alajar, Cogie Domingo, Alessandra de Rossi, Carlo Aquino, Joem Bascon, and Mercedes Cabral with the special participation of Phillip Salvador
Director: Adolfo Alix Jr.

Gina Alajar’s character, Lourdes Lagrimas, is known to be the head of all illegal activities in an old district in Manila. The crime family matriarch is involved in illegal businesses, from jueteng to carnapping to drugs. Despite having ease in running an illegal business with her family, she wants to shield her youngest son Benjamin from being involved in their activities. Lourdes will face peril when one man decides to take over the city’s underworld.

CINEMA ONE CURRENTS (P1 million budget)

ANG PAGLALAKBAY NG MGA BITUIN SA GABING MADILIM is about the companionship between three escaping rebels and a young war survivor against a Mindanao war backdrop

Stars: Fe “Gingging” Hyde, Irish Karl Monsanto, Roger Gonzales, and Glory Pearl Dy
Director: Arnel Mardoquio

Ang Paglalakbay ng mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim presents the many facets and intricacies of the Bangsa Moro struggle in Mindanao. It narrates the story of three Muslim rebels trying to elude arrest from their captors. As Bapa Indo, Amrayda and Fatima traverse the mountains and highlands of Jolo, Sulu, they will meet a 9-year-old boy, Faidal, who seeks vengeance for the murder of his parents. Their individual struggles in Mindanao will show heart-rending images of war, friendship and companionship.

CATNIP is a psychological film on two friends who despite their differences find comfort in being together

Stars: Lauren Young, Maxene Magalona, Rommel Luna, Ramon Bautista and Megan Young
Director: Kevin Dayrit

Liv is an introvert at home, constraining her true personality because “everything she does is wrong,” according to her abusive father. She enjoys the company of her friend Cieca since she can be her “rough” self in front of her and be loved for who she is. Cieca values her and is amused by Liv’s avant garde-esque unpredictability, a different flavor to her dull, boring and clichéd world.

EDSA XXX is a rock opera set in the year 2030. The Republic of Ek-Ek-Ek has just elected its new president, Three Eyes Kulas Missing-Marbles. The street simpleton won the election by a landslide but he will later on discover that his presidency was all part of an intricate conspiracy. This homage to Pinoy B-movies is a tribute to the late King of Comedy Dolphy, and is the first and only full-length film shot entirely in Corregidor and in fisheye.

Stars: Epy Quizon, Althea Vega, Sheree and Bong Cabrera
Director: Khavn dela Cruz

MELODRAMA NEGRA is a dark comedy which follows the complicated and macabre lives of a woman and her ‘dead’ friends, blood-hungry sociopaths and a wealthy political family in the acclaimed City of Stars: Quezon City

Stars: Gee Canlas, Jerald Napoles, Bong Cabrera, Sheng Belmonte, Cindy Lopez, Ria Garcia, Cai Cortez, Mara Lopez, Bembol Roco
Director: Ma. Isabel Legarda

Melodrama Negra revolves around cancer-stricken Dee, her dead friends Gomez and Lim, blood-hungry sociopath sisters Twinkle and Candy, their friend Bing, and wealthy father and son Congressman Ramirez and Rex. In the midst of limbo, murder and sex, what really matters in the end are the choices these people make as they play out the synchronized realities forming the dark melodrama that is life.

SLUMBER PARTY is a riotous comedy about a tied-up cute frat boy and three curious gays. It also happens to be an unapologetic social commentary on how ordinary people react to social issues.

Stars: Markki Stroem, Archie Alemania and RK Bagatsing
Director: Emmanuel Dela Cruz

Singer-thespian Markki Stroem takes on the role of a homosexual for this comedy flick set on the night of August 23, 2010. Under the administration of President Noynoy Aquino, two “major major” events are underway: the heated bus hostage taking of Hong Kong nationals in Quirino Grandstand and Venus Raj’s fight for the Miss Universe crown. Three gay friends throw a slumber party to watch the pageant but they are surprised by the arrival of a young frat boy named Jonel.

PASCALINA is another untypical story of a simple girl who, after visiting her dying aunt, experiences changes in her life that will push her to the edge of madness and monstrosity

Stars: Maria Veronica Santiago, Peewee O’Hara, Cara Eriguel, Alex Vincent Medina
Director: Pam Miras

After a series of unpleasant events in her life, Pascalina receives news that her aunt Taba is dying but cannot do so unless she passes on a curse. Thinking that it was only a joke, Pascalina visits her dying aunt and began experiencing changes in her life that will push her to the edge of madness.

ANAK ARAW talks about the colonial illusion of an albino who believes that he is a son of an American. He begins learning English but whenever he says an English word, explosions happen nearby

Stars: Jay De La Vega
Director: Gym Lumbera

It talks about the colonial illusion of an albino who believes that he is a son of an American. Shot in black and white, Anak Araw is a tragic colonialism love story that springs from the search of a local albino for his identity in an imagined past of Taal Lake. He believes that he is a son of an American, thus he tries to learn English through reading translations and definitions from a Tagalog-English dictionary. He lives amidst a town facing exodus due to precarious events such as appearances of sharks and unexplained explosions and deaths.

ABERYA is a story about love, sex, and psychedelic potions which intertwine the lives of four people in one night

Stars: Will Devaughn, Mercedes Cabral, Iwa Moto, Nicholas Varela
Director: Christian Linaban

Aberya takes the audience on a journey through the rough side of Cebu. The film revolves around four individuals: an egomaniac Fil-Am boxer on a pleasure trip, a prostitute from Luzon out to accomplish a mission, a local drug dealer experimenting with time travel, and a social climber from Mindanao caught up in a scandal. It tackles issues such as sex, drugs, religion and activism presented in pop art form.

PALITAN depicts the life of lovers who find themselves asphyxiated and trapped in an erotic triangle

Stars: Mara Lopez, Alex Medina, Mon Confiado
Director: Ato Bautista

Palitan is set in the gritty street of Raon, Quiapo in Manila, a third-world commercial avenue where everything from dildos to car parts are sold and can be bargained for at a certain price. Nestor becomes buried in debt from his cunning boss, Ramiro. But this time, Ramiro wants something more than money – his young, lovely common wife Luisa.

MAMAY UMENG is a preview into the life of an 84-year-old man who is alone, waiting, and praying not for long life, but for a quick escape.

Stars: all non-actors except Sue Prado, who will play a supporting role
Director: Dwein Baltazar

Mamay Umeng is an 84-year-old man living in Pinagbayanan, San Juan, Batangas. He wants nothing more than to end his long life. But death has always eluded him; it is a never-ending game of hide and seek, to which he has always played along. One day, Mamay decided to hunt down his very own demise.

NORA AUNOR’S HIMALA TO BE SCREENED ANEW. One of the highlights of this year’s Cinema One is the screening of the restored version of Ishmael Bernal’s Himala. Considered as one of the country’s cinematic gems, this Nora Aunor-starrer will be shown on December 4 at 9:15 p.m. at the Edsa Shangri-La Cineplex.
Prior to the screening, a documentary celebrating the film’s 30th anniversary titled Himala Ngayon by Sari Dalena and Keith Sicat will be shown at 7:00 p.m.

Himala’s screenwriter Ricky Lee will be present during the event for the book signing of his Himala coffee table book at the cinema’s lobby which features the full screenplay of the movie with an English translation, as well as interviews with the cast and crew and more than 100 full-color photographs.

The film Himala was initially released for the Metro Film Festival in 1982. In 2008, it won the Viewer’s Choice Award for Best Asia-Pacific Film of All Time in the CNN Asia Pacific Screen Awards and just recently, it was screened at the 69th Venice Film Festival during a program titled Venizia Classici, which showcased restored classic films from around the world.

Himala is based on a true incident on a teenage girl in Cabra Island in the province of Occidental Mindoro between 1966 and 1967.

With the multitude of film festivals now being organized all over the Philippines, what is the take of Cinema One regarding this phenomenon?

Ronald Arguelles, Cinema One Originals channel head and festival director, points out: “Hayaan mo silang gumawa ng maraming-maraming pelikula, anyway, ibebenta rin nila sa amin iyon. Ultimately, mapapanood rin sa Cinema One [cable channel], ang mga manonood ng Cinema One ang makikinabang.”






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