Maribel Verdu (of Y Tu Mama Tambien fame) visited the Philippines to grace the 2015 edition of Pelicula Pelikula.
The renowned Spanish actress was one of the special guests during the October 7 opening of the annual festival of Spanish and Latin American films organized by Instituto Cervantes.
“I’m so glad to be here,” she said at the ceremony held at Greenbelt 3 Cinema in Makati City.
Her short speech served as an introduction to the festival’s opening film, Felices 140 (English title: Happy 140), in which she plays the lead role. “It’s a pleasure, really.”
The 45-year-old thespian began acting at age 13. She is a recipient of several acting awards, including Spain’s foremost award-giving body, Goya Awards. She won the Goya Best Actress award in 2007, for Siete mesas de billar frances (Seven Billiard Tables), and in 2012, for Blancanieves (Snow White).
She gained global acclaim with her major participation in Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mother Too), the 2001 Mexican hit movie directed by Alfonso Cuaron.
Cuaron would later win the 2014 Oscar for Best Director for the Hollywood production Gravity.
In Y Tu Mama Tambien, Verdu plays the initially pained but eventually liberated woman who goes on a sexually charged road trip with two teenage and machismo best friends (Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna).
She is also widely recognized for her work as a compassionate revolutionary in another Mexican film, El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth), the 2006 allegorical tale magically directed by Guillermo del Toro.
“I hope you enjoy that beautiful film,” Verdu said during Pelicula’s opening night. She was referring to her latest work, Felices 140.
“Well,” the actress shyly added, clarifying her statement, “I don’t know if beautiful is the perfect word to define this film. It’s totally different, [I mean] the story. Enjoy the film.”
Felices 140 tells the story of how a carefully planned 45th birthday celebration with close family members, lifelong friends, and a former flame turns into a test of true relationship and human nature.
It is directed by Gracia Querejeta, and it also stars Antonio de la Torre, Eduard Fernandez, Nora Navas, and Alex O’Doghery.
Verdu also invited the appreciative audience in attending the meet-and-greet session with her on October 9. An open forum will take place after the screening of Felices 140 and Blancanieves.
“I take this opportunity to know this city and to have the opportunity to be here in Filipinas,” she said in conclusion. “Thank you very much.”
Prior to the film screening, Instituto Cervantes, headed by its director Carlos Madrid, threw a reception at the lobby of the Ayala Museum.
HENERAL LUNA STARS. One of the attendees at the reception was E.A. Rocha, co-producer and co-writer of the blockbuster historical piece Heneral Luna.
Cast members Epy Quizon and Mon Confiado also came to represent the biopic that is the Philippines' official submission to the 2016 Oscars race.
Epy plays Apolinario Mabini, hailed as The Sublime Paralytic and The Brains of the Philippine Revolution.
Mon is cast as the first Philippine President Emilio Aguinaldo. In a chat with PEP and YES!, the actor shared some of his thoughts about the movie.
“First, overwhelmed ako,” admitted Mon. “Napakasarap ng pakiramdam hindi lang dahil successful ’yong film kung hindi ’yong nagising ’yong pagiging Pilipino ng mga Pilipino. Kasi medyo matagal nang natulog.
“Nakaka-amaze nga o nakakagulat na ’yong iba, hindi alam kung bakit nakaupo si Mabini sa buong pelikula. Nalungkot ako do’n personally.”
He also talked about he felt about Aguinaldo’s unpopularity among many of those who’ve seen the Jerrold Tarog-directed Heneral Luna.
“Sabi ko nga naiinis sila sa akin pero nagpapa-picture sila,” he pointed out, smiling. “So parang ako, as an actor ano ’yon success ’yon kasi naapektuhan sila ng aking performance sa film. Kasi kumbaga contrast ni Antonio Luna ’yon attack ko sa film. Kung siya, maingay, madaldal, matapang, ako, tahimik lang.”
Mon said that he will reprise his role in the forthcoming films on Gregorio del Pilar and Manuel L. Quezon. It’s been reported that Heneral Luna is only the first of the trilogy on Philippine heroes.
“Ako ang common denominator ng mga film,” he explained. “I’ll be playing Aguinaldo pa din.”
Pelicula Pelikula runs until October 18 at Greenbelt 3 in Makati City. Afterwards, the Spanish film festival moves to Manila, at the National Commission of the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) building, where the public can watch the selected movies, some of which are not part of the first leg. The screenings will take place in Intramuros from October 19 to 25.