Now on its ninth year, the Cinema One Originals Film Festival offers an “unpredictable” lineup this 2013.
The fifteen full-length entries will be screened from November 11-19 at Glorietta, Trinoma, and Robinsons Galleria.
What differentiates Cinema One Originals from other film festivals being held in the country?
Ronald Arguelles, Cinema One channel head and festival director, pointed out during a press conference held recently at the ABS-CBN compound:
“Cinema One ang pinaka-risky pagdating sa pagpili ng konsepto ng mga scripts. Wala kaming agenda kung anong gagawin namin, wala kaming framework or template kung anong klaseng pelikula. Ang pagiging unpredictable ng lineup namin ang plus factor ng Cinema One Originals.”
This year’s edition also boasts of two campus tours, 10 short films, 5 Biogesic shorts, and a screening of the digitally restored version of Eddie Romero's classic film Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?
The campus tours will take place from November 5-7 at the College of St. Benilde and at the Far Eastern University on November 7.
The November 10 opening night at Trinoma will feature the special screening of the restored version of Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon (1976). Directed by the late National Artist Eddie Romero, this romantic musical drama stars Christopher De Leon, Gloria Diaz, and Eddie Garcia.
Just like last year, the chosen entries were divided into two categories: Cinema One Plus and Cinema One Currents.
Each category will have its own set of jury members to choose the winners. “May ibang jury para sa Cinema One Plus and may ibang set of jury para sa Cinema One Currents. Dalawang set of awards except sa Audience Choice award,” said Mr. Arguelles.
The red-carpet awards night will take place on November 16 at the Dolphy Theater, ABS-CBN compound.
The five films in the Plus category were awarded with a P2 million budget each while the ten entries in the Currents category have a budget of P1 million each.
In the 10th edition of Cinema One Originals next year, there will no longer be any distinction since all the chosen entries will receive a grant of P2 million each.
The five films under the Cinema One Plus (P2 million budget) category offer themes that are largely unexplored. These are Adolf Alix Jr.’s Alamat ni China Doll, Alfonso “Borgy” Torre III’s Kabisera, Mes de Guzman’s Sitio, Keith Sicat’s Woman of the Ruins, and Miko Livelo’s Blue Bustamante.
Meanwhile, ten other films received P1 million each and were classified under the Cinema One Currents category.
These are Angustia, directed by Kristian Cordero and Alex Medina, and Maria Isabel Lopez; Saturday Night Chills, directed by Ian Loreños and starring Joseph Marco, Rayver Cruz, and Mateo Guidicelli; Bendor, directed by Ralston Jover and starring Vivian Velez; Shift, directed by Siege Ledesma and starring Yeng Constantino and Felix Roco; A Philippino Story, by Benjie Garcia and starring Mark Gil and Jun Jun Quintaña; Islands, by Whammy Alcazaren and starring Benjamin Alves, Luis Alandy, Mercedes Cabral, and Anita Linda; Bukas Na Lang Sapagkat Gabi Na, by Jet Leyco and starring Nika Santiago, and Raul Morit; Iskalawags, by Keith Deligero featuring children from Camotes Island; Ang Pagbabalat Ng Ahas, by Timmy Harn and starring Jaime Fabregas, and Liza Lorena; and Riddles of my Homecoming, by Arnel Mardoquio and starring Fe Hyde, Perry Dizon, and Madz Garcia.
Cinema One Plus directors Mes de Guzman, Keith Sicat, and Miko Livelo were present at the press conference while Borgy Torre and Adolf Alix were both unable to attend.
PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) asked the directors to narrate where they got the idea for their movies.
Mes de Guzman said he has had the concept for Sitio for a long time already. “Ang concept talaga tungkol sa isang family na na-invade at ayaw na umalis ng tatlong lalaki na ito. Mga laborers sila. Nung may mga nakabasa, sabi nila parang Straw Dogs raw pero hindi ganun. Ito kasi invasion. Pumasok sila sa bahay, nagluluto sila, kumukha ng pagkain at ang approach ko dito parang dark comedy siya.”
He revealed that he accepted suggestions from cast members regarding the story, which is why only 50 to 75 percent of his original script was retained.
“Maraming ideas na nanggaling sa mga artista kaya medyo hindi nasunod ang script. Siguro fifty percent to seventy-five percent, yun pa rin naman ang main concept. Para sa akin, iba ito sa pelikula ko kasi yung pacing mabilis saka ang acting exaggerated. First indie film rin ito ni John Prats kaya aabangan talaga.”
Direk Mes is the filmmaker behind Nora Aunor’s recent film, Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti; the Ama Quiambao-starrer Diablo (2012); and Ang Daan Patungong Kalimugtong (2005).
For his part, Keith Sicat said that Woman of the Ruins is a product of war stories that he heard from his father.
“Yung images ng pelikula mula sa mga kuwento ng tatay ko ng mga experiences niya during World War II. Kumbaga, ‘Manila burning,’ napaka-epic ng image na yun. So na-impress yun sa akin as a young boy. Ang tatay ko galing sa San Fernando, Pampanga kunsaan kilala ang mga Lenten rites na medyo matindi tulad ng Crucifixion sa Cutud. Lahat ng images na ‘yan, naghalo-halo na into what became the script.”
Miko Livelo admitted: “Laking ‘90s kid ako. Lumaki ako sa mga Bioman, Masked Man…Lumaki ako sa mga comedy films nina Tito, Vic and Joey at Andrew E. Ang Blue Bustamante ay based sa lahat ng kinalakihan ko na comedy films at lahat ng gusto kong Japanese pop culture. Noong una kong ginawa ang Blue Bustamante, love story talaga siya pero hindi ako romantic type na lalaki talaga kaya tinapon ko yun. So naging father-and-son story tungkol sa isang OFW at set during the 1990s. Kuwento siya ng tatay na nagtrabaho sa Japan pero nawalan siya ng trabaho dun. Nag-end up siya na stunt man sa isang show na parang Bioman.”
According to Direk Miko, they employed “ninja guerrilla shooting” in Japan just to finish the movie.
Bing Pimentel, one of the stars of the crime drama Kabisera, revealed: “The first time that I met Borgy Torre, I asked him where he got the concept and he said that he was inspired by the story of a fisherman who found cocaine in Romblon. But he made up this story because he is also obsessed with The Sopranos so he combined that inspiration with The Sopranos.”
CINEMA ONE PLUS (P2 million budget)
Alamat ni China Doll
Director: Adolfo Alix Jr.
Written by: Lav Diaz
Cast: Angelica Panganiban, Cherry Pie Picache, Cesar Montano, Phillip Salvador, Anita Linda, Allan Paule, and Evelyn Vargas
Featuring a screenplay written by Lav Diaz, Alamat ni China Doll is about a 27-year-old woman named Helen (played by Angelica Panganiban) who is keen on graduating from high school and starting a new life—but once she gets her hands on a recently published article on the truth about “China Doll,” she realizes details that shed light on her haunting past.
According to Mr. Arguelles, Alamat ni China Doll is about a young girl trying to hide her past. “Kuwento ito ni Helen na nagtatago sa isang island. Malalaman ang history tungkol sa character niya dahil may napublish na report tungkol sa mga ginawa niya before. Lalabas siya sa island dahil may kailangang gawin sa city kasi binulgar ng isang diyaryo ang kanyang nakaraan.”
Cesar Montano plays the journalist who holds the key to the truth while Phillip Salvador is cast as an NBI officer who knows China Doll.
Director: Miko Livelo
Written by: Miko Livelo and Joel Ferrer
Cast: Joem Bascon, Jun Sabayton, Dimples Romana, and Jhiz Deocareza
Blue Bustamante is a family drama comedy, which is about an OFW (played by Joem Bascon) who suddenly finds himself jobless in Japan. Looking for anything to do, he meets a Sentai director who convinces him to be a double for Blue Force, a superhero character in an upcoming Japanese superhero show.
Joem spent a week in Kofu, Japan to shoot scenes of the movie. For the film, he wore a superhero costume that looks similar to Bioman. The actor admits, “Inside the suit, mahirap gumalaw, e.”
Jun Sabayton, who plays Joem’s co-worker in the movie, says that this film reflects the situation of kids who grew up with parents who worked abroad. “Ito ang generation na nag-OFW ang mga magulang namin so ito ang impact sa amin.”
Director: Borgy Torre
Written by: Vicente Garcia Groyon
Cast: Joel Torre, Art Acuña, Bing Pimentel, Bernard Palanca, Ketchup Eusebio, and Meryll Soriano
Kabisera is an action film that details one man’s transformation from a naive, innocent character into a ruthless father and friend upon finding a huge amount of illegal substances that he can easily make money out of. Kabisera ultimately leads to the question: If given the chance to make big bucks out of something as dangerous as dealing drugs, what would you do?
Art Acuña says their film tackles complicated human relationships. “It’s not just simple human relationships because it’s about human relationships in very awkward, strange, unnatural circumstances. What happens to those relationships that are solid? Do they get strained? Do they go black or white? You don't know.
“Ang plus factor ng Kabisera is that it's not just a family story or a story about a friendship. It's a story about what you do when pushed to extreme circumstances and what happens to your relationships when you're pushed to that circumstance."
Written and directed by: Mes de Guzman
Cast: John Prats, Ria Garcia, Anja Aguilar, Arnold Reyes, Biboy Ramirez, RK Bagatsing, and Jess Mendoza
Direk Mes describes his film Sitio as a “barriotic psychological thriller.” It tells the tale of upper middle class siblings who try to find the meaning of a simpler life by moving from the city to the province. However, unknown to them are the terrors and threats that really lie in the rural landscape.
John Prats spent a week in Nueva Vizcaya to shoot his first indie film. He points out, “Malayong-malayo ito sa mainstream. Ramdam mo ang passion at hindi dahil may gusto silang i-please. Nakakaaadik gumawa [ng indie film] kasi parang nabubusog ako, yung pagkatao ko as an actor. Yun ang malaking factor kung bakit gustong-gusto ko gawin ang indie films. Looking forward [to] more. Gutom na gutom po talaga ako."
The lead actor of the movie says the conflict of the movie lies in the vast differences between city and rural life. “Ang pelikula tungkol sa dalawang kultura: ang kultura ng taga-Maynila at taga- Nueva Vizcaya na nag-clash. Noong ginagawa namin ang pelikula, [na-realize ko] na hindi pala kailangan na psychotic ang mga karakter para katakutan. Minsan kahit sobrang bait ng tao, nakakatakot din."
Woman of the Ruins
Director: Keith Sicat
Cast: Alessandra de Rossi, Art Acuña, Chanel Latorre, Elizabeth Oropesa, and Peque Gallaga
Woman of the Ruins is a science fiction movie that brings its viewers to a storm-ravaged island that has seen its share of tragedy. A woman who has been assumed dead mysteriously reappears and ignites a frenzy of reactions, ranging from ecstatic religious fervor to cold, chilling fear.
Alessandra de Rossi plays the mysterious woman in the film. According to Alex, her most difficult scenes in the movie involved shooting underwater scenes in the ocean. “Na-realize ko na hindi pala ako sirena. All this time, pinagmamalaki ko na mermaid ako pero hindi pala. Nag-retire ako bigla. Mula 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. nasa tubig ako. Na-realize ko na may kinakatakutan pala ako sa buhay kasi akala ko wala.
“Hindi ko kaya ang zero visibility, yung blue lang. Kahit iniisip kong may tao [scuba divers] sa baba, ayoko pa rin. Ang dami kong sugat at peklat dahil sa movie na ito.”
Art Acuña plays the husband who has been waiting for the return of his beloved for seven years. He describes the film as “metaphysical” while depicting “deep, deep love.” Art adds, “Magic is what science can’t explain. It brings to a family and a town some sort of magic and they can't understand it."
Direk Keith says his film aims to depict “what would happen if society's pressures are compounded on a single person. Expectations are raised and roles are ascribed and how very meaningful good intentions can be twisted into something very violent and very evil.”
Shot for ten days in Corregidor, Woman of the Ruins is described by Direk Keith as having “an atmosphere which is apocalyptic but not in a fictional sense."