Film director Mike de Leon aired his grievances against Regal Films matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde regarding the restoration of his film Sister Stella L.
He expressed his frustrations to his friend Monchito Nocon, who in turn posted Direk Mike's e-mail through a Facebook note published last Sunday, June 12.
Direk Mike stated his e-mail that the Asian Film Archive (AFA) offered to restore (for free) two of his films: Batch '81 (starring the late Mark Gil) and Sister Stella L. (with Vilma Santos playing the titular role).
He related in the e-mail, "Here is the incident: Several months ago, the Asian Film Archive offered to restore two of my films that are preserved at the National Film Archive in Singapore.
"These are Batch ‘81 and Sister Stella L. Free-of-charge. They only request acknowledgment as a co-restoration venture but the copyrights remain with the producer."
Marichu Vera-Perez Maceda, the producer of Batch '81, agreed with the contract submitted by the AFA except for some minor revisions.
However, it was a different story for Mother Lily, who produced the film Sister Stella L.
At first, Mother Lily gave him consent.
"My secretary Amy talked with Lily [Monteverde] where she blabbered enthusiastically that as long as I would exercise total supervision of the restoration of the film, she would consent, to which I agreed.
"When I inquired if there were still any parts of the original picture and sound negatives existing at the Regal archive (if you can call it one. Singapore has a complete print) because in some cases, the negatives have been saved and the negatives are still the best source for a restoration with parts of the prints used in case the negatives are incomplete or worse, damaged beyond repair, I was told that the person to talk to was Roselle, Lily's daughter."
Roselle is Roselle Monteverde-Teo, Mother Lily's daughter who also acts as a producer in Regal Films.
Apparently, Roselle has already committed the Regal films to the ABS-CBN Film Restoration group.
He continued, "As it turned out, this Roselle had already committed the Regal films to a local restoration lab (who else, but ABS-CBN) even if Lily promised me that she would never give her films to that outfit.
"I don't care about the other Regal films because the AFA's request was only for one film of theirs, Sister Stella L.
"So Lily asked me to write her a formal letter requesting an exception for this particular film. Attached is the letter. So we waited for a reply, any reply, by phone, by text, anything.
"It turned out she never even bothered to read the letter (perhaps even lost it or threw it away) and never even showed it to her daughter."
"In an earlier event, she had even told Marti Magsanoc that Lily talked to him personally and told him to inform me that she would entrust the restoration to me alone. Then silence, up to now."
Because of what happened, Direk Mike had a heated exchange of text messages with the Regal Films matriarch.
"Needless to say, this has deeply embarrassed me with the Asian Film Archive represented by its head, Karen Chan.
"I, of course, gave Lily a piece of my mind and said that what can you expect from a lunatic like the great obsolete Empress Dowager.
"I followed this text with another one (she doesn't do email, she's jurassic) and told her she was no longer relevant, she was obsolete.
"Who does she think she is to treat well-meaning people this way?
"'Matanda na ako, matanda ka na rin, hindi ka pa ba nagbabago? Or is it too much to ask?' I asked. So only Batch ‘81 is being restored."
Direk Mike then admitted that he considers Sister Stella L., revolving around a nun who became involved in labor strikes, as his worst film.
"Honestly, I have mixed feelings about Sister Stella L.
"I consider it my worst film, a mere piece of anti-Marcos propaganda demagoguery with the most extreme wooden acting.
"I have asked Karen Chan to consider Bayaning 3rd World but so far has received no reply.
"Kisapmata is a special case, as there are still copyright issues but they cannot be touched by anyone, including ABS-CBN because I legally own the prints, the negatives have been ruined intentionally by [he mentions a filmmaker here] and I have donated the prints to the National Film Archive of Singapore whose got a battery of IP lawyers."
In the end, the director still hopes to get the rights to his film.
"I am still hoping to buy the rights of the film from whoever the owner is, Union Bank? Bahala ka na with this story but I feel it must be told."
On the other hand, Nocon clarified that he has nothing to do with the issue and only served as a messenger for Direk Mike who does not do social media.
Here is the full text of the letter:
PEP welcomes any statement from Mother Lily Monteverde, Roselle Monteverde, ABS-CBN Film Restoration group, and other people involved in this issue.