PEP EXCLUSIVE: Ang Lee scouting for locations in Manila for upcoming 3D boxing movie

Taiwan-born director Ang Lee reveals that he has plans of making a movie in the Philippines. According to a PEP source, Ang Lee wants to do a movie about the "Thrilla in Manila," the historic boxing match between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Ang Lee has already visited Ali Mall in Cubao, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Theater, and he has plans to visit Malacañang.


Oscar-winning director Ang Lee received the Lino Brocka Award in a tribute held at SM Aura last night, November 28, 2013.

Cinemanila festival director Tikoy Aguiluz presented the bulol (carved native deity) trophy to the filmmaker behind the critical and successful successes Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and Life of Pi.

(Read: Oscar-winning director Ang Lee receives Lino Brocka Award in Manila)

Ang Lee came to the Philippines to grace an invitational screening of his Academy Award winning movie, Life of Pi, and to talk about his career as an Asian filmmaker in Hollywood.

In Ang Lee’s speech that followed the screening, the Taiwan-born director also revealed that he plans to make a movie shot in the Philippines.

“I grew up as a neighbor of the Philippines,” he said, addressing the crowd gathered at the SM Aura IMAX cinema last night, November 28.

“They say, where I shot Life of Pi, on top of a hill, overlooking a beach, on a clear day, you can see the northern island of the Philippines.

“The movie mentioned Manila twice, but I’ve never been here. It’s my first time here,” said the 59-year-old filmmaker, smiling.

“I’m very excited.

“I’m planning to do a movie here. I hope I get to make that movie.”

His speech was briefly interrupted by spontaneous applause from the audience, consisting mainly of Filipino directors and members of the press.

Towards the end of the forum where Ang Lee answered questions from the Philippine media, the soft-spoken director disclosed that his next movie will be from his own original concept.

His previous projects were based on books.

Ang Lee won an Academy Award for best director for his 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, an independent film based on Annie Proulx's short story about gay ranch hands, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

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Seven years later, in 2013, he picked up his second Academy Award for directing Life of Pi, based on the acclaimed best-selling novel by Yann Martel.

The honor marked the first time a director won the Best Director Oscar for helming a 3D movie. Life of Pi also garnered awards for cinematography, score, and visual effects.



ANG LEE’S UPCOMING MOVIE. After the forum, Brillante Mendoza told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other reporters that he learned about Ang Lee’s preparations for the movie that the latter plans to shoot in the Philippines.

“Actually, ang napag-usapan lang namin, yung tungkol sa location at tungkol sa mga pinuntahan niya dito. Yun yung mga napag-usapan namin.

“Nagpunta na siya sa CCP [Cultural Center of the Philippines], pupunta siya sa Malacañang area, nagpunta siya sa Folk Arts.”

Is Ang Lee planning to shoot the movie by next year?

“Hindi ko alam kung kailan siya mag-ii-start. Actually, he is looking at all these locations.

“Nagpunta siya sa Ali Mall kasi tungkol sa boxing ang kanyang gagawin.

“Actually, gusto lang niya ma-inspire ng mga lugar na pinuntahan niya."

Several Hollywood publications have revealed that Ang Lee is planning to do a 3D boxing movie featuring Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali.

The historic boxing match between the two heavyweight champions occurred on October 1, 1975 at the Araneta Coliseum (now the Smart Araneta Coliseum) and was drumbeat as the Thrilla In Manila.

In a separate interview, Brillante confirmed to PEP that this was indeed Ang Lee’s project.

"Parang Thrilla in Manila. Naghahanap siya ng location. 3D ito.

"Nakausap na niya ang anak ni Frazier. At that time, he [Frazier's son] was really very small and what he remembers about Manila is the big chandeliers in Malacañang.

“Bagets pa yun [still referring to Frazier's son] at naaalala lang niya sa Manila ay ang big chandeliers."

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Can we expect Ang Lee to return anytime soon to do more research in the Philippines?

"Hopefully, since he is already doing location hunting.

"But, of course, yung mga ganyang malalaking productions, you don't expect them to come in a month or two.

"It takes a year, mga ganun sila mag-prepare."




BRILLANTE’S UPCOMING TV SHOW. When asked about his own project, the Pinoy Cannes-winning director said that he is working on a show titled Small Act, Big Stories.

It will be shown once a month on Solar by January 2014.

Brilliante says, “I'm doing several documentaries on ordinary people: their small acts.

“These are actually based on photographs then I make a story out of the photos.

“May mga winning shots at tinatanong namin ano ang small act mo? Pumipili ako dun, then I make a story out of that photograph.

“We interview that person na nagpadala nun at bakit small act niya yun?

“For instance, fireman na nagse-save ng mga animals like cats. It's a beautiful photograph and it's interesting kasi hindi lang property ang sine-save but even animals.

“Kasi tayo we tend to disregard [animals], kasi uunahin mo ang mga gamit. Pero siya, may kuwento siya, so sinundan ko ang taong kinukunan ko.

“We show the story behind the photo.

“Dapat December siya ilo-launch, pero dahil sa Yolanda, minove namin.”




ANG LEE SUPPORTS LOLA. Brillante says he is pleased to know that Ang Lee liked his drama film Lola, starring Anita Linda and Rustica Carpio.

Lola was chosen as a surprise entry in the 66th Venice Film Festival in 2009.

Ang Lee served as president of the Venice film festival jury at that time.


Lola was unable to win an award at the Venice film fest.

Brilliante says, “Napanood niya ang mga pelikula ko, napanood niya ang Lola.

“Sabi niya, it was his winner and it was his favorite. We almost made it…

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“I may not have the trophy, but with what he said, parang bitbit ko ang trophy na yun,” said Brillante with a smile.

Does Brillante's next movie also have sports for a theme?

"Yeah, pero palagay ko, magkaiba kami. It's about boxing pero alam mo naman ako pagdating sa ganyan.

"Magkaiba kami."


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