Starring Dennis Trillo, Jerald Napoles, and Matteo Guidicelli, Mina-Anud was chosen as the closing film of Cinemalaya 2019.
Directed by Kerwin Go, this crime-comedy film was screened last Saturday, August 10, to close the 15th edition of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival that took place at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
The Cebuano documentary director (Eskrimadors, 2010) and cinematographer (Dear Other Self, 2017) spent about a decade bringing Mina-Anud to the big screen.
His inspiration for the movie’s story happened in 2009, when tons of cocaine bricks mysteriously reached the waters of a sleepy fishing village in Eastern Samar and subsequently lured some villagers into the drug trade.
At that time, Direk Kerwin frequently visited the place to surf, so he got to know well a lot of the people, and saw for himself how the incident changed the lives of those who got involved.
Over the years, he developed the script with screenwriter Stephen Lopez to come up with a crime comedy that was eventually picked up and produced by Epic Media and Regal Films.
GMA-7 talents Dennis and Jerald had the chance to work with ABS-CBN actor Matteo in Mina-Anud, which will be screened in commercial cinemas starting August 21.
Direk Kerwin’s tight grasp of the material makes for a solid story and fluid storytelling that revolves around childhood friends Ding (Dennis Trillo) and Carlo (Jerald Napoles).
Ding’s earnings as a van driver hardly provide for his wife Gina (Dionne Monsanto) and their only child Grace (Elia Ilano).
Carlo’s only goal in life is to become a surfing champion as he solely looks after his senile grandmother (Lui Manansala).
When they stumble upon the opportunity to earn big bucks from the cocaine bricks that had been accidentally discovered by fishermen in the island of Mina-Anud, Ding and Carlo plunged into it despite the dangers.
The director successfully melds comedy and crime to come up with an entertaining and gripping movie.
He’s able to do it by casting versatile actors and by bringing to the fore their core strengths.
There's Dennis’s intense acting and Jerald’s comedic timing, and the good rapport between them and the rest of their surfer friends played by Mara Lopez, Anthony Falcon, and Marc Felix.
The same goes for Lou Veloso, as Mina-Anud’s barangay captain, and his right-hand man, played by Richard Manabat.
Even the scenes of Alvin Anson—as the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agent who heads the recovery of the cocaine bricks and pursuit of those selling them—are peppered with humor without lessening his authority.
While all the actors did uniformly well in the movie, Matteo Guidicelli stands out because he takes on his role as Paul, the old pal of Ding and Carlo who hit it big as a commercial model in Manila, with infectious energy and admirable commitment.
Matteo is a big revelation in this movie as he delivers shocking dialogue involving the female private part and engaging in scandalous activities.
Though the movie has breathtaking aerial shots that show the vastness and beauty of the islands, as well as surfing scenes that showcase awesome waves and skills (champion surfer Luke Landrigan makes a cameo), it surprisingly lacks a provincial feel.
The problem lies in the inconsistent use of a regional accent.
In some scenes, the actors speak like they’re in a place in the Visayas, and for the rest of the movie, they talk like regular Manila residents.
The exceptions are Matteo, who hails from Cebu and speaks naturally with Cebuano accent, and Alvin because his character is based in Manila, so he doesn’t have to sound provincial.
Direk Kerwin has said in published interviews that Mina-Anud doesn’t make a commentary on the government’s campaign against drugs.
Nevertheless, there’s a scene in the movie’s latter part that clearly says who wins and loses in the illegal drug trade.
The director made it clear during the open forum held at the August 10 screening at CCP that he’s most concerned with how people react when they’re given the opportunity to earn a lot of money through illegal means.
Sadly, there are Ding and Carlo who choose to risk their lives for money that is hard to come by.
But Direk Kerwin hopes that after watching Mina-Anud, people will learn to make better choices.