Film director Paolo Dy is now busy promoting his debut film Ignacio De Loyola.
Produced by the Jesuit Communication Foundation (JesCom), the historic biopic revolves around the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Paolo co-wrote the script with his wife Cathy Azanza-Dy.
The film features an all-Spanish cast led by Andreas Munoz, who will play the title character. Other cast members include Javier Godino, Isabel Garcia Lorca, Pepe Ocio, and Julio Perillan.
A press conference for the movie's premiere was held at KKK Restaurant in SM North EDSA on July 20.
During the press con, Paolo was asked about his preparations for the film and his research process before writing the script. The director said he read several books as part of his research to accurately showcase the life of the saint in the film.
He told the Philippine press, "In addition to many of growing up to the Jesuit tradition and knowing the essential stories of Ignatius of Loyola from childhood, we did approach it from a very studious and well-researched point of view. I personally read six or seven books about Ignatius from different points of views, as well—from religious, a little bit secular, and psychological, as well."
He added, "We had a lot of consultations with experts on the history of Ignatius and the history of the society, especially form the Jesuits, themselves, who also looked over the script and gave their own stamp of approval on everything that we were planning."
The film was shot mostly in Spain where some scenes of the hit series Game of Thrones were also shot. These include Navarra and the Basque Country of Spain in 2015. He said, "It was mostly in Spain, almost everything was [shot] in Spain. We did have some studio green screen work and some additional scenes here for which why Andreas flew over."
LIVE ORCHESTRA. The production crew of the film tapped Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice 2013 awardee Maestro Ryan Cayabyab to create the musical score for the film. The songs were interpreted by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Gerard Salonga.
On Saturday, July 23, the film had a special screening at Solaire Resorts and Casino. ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra provided live musical scoring along with the Ateneo Chamber Singers.
Paolo said, "We’re going to screen the film then the ABS-CBN Philharmonic orchestra is going to score it live along with the Ateneo Chamber Singers under the baton of Maester Gerard Salonga.
"Music is by Ryan Cayabyab. It’s beautiful. It’s gorgeous. You haven’t heard it. You’re going to be in tears. It’s orchestral and the choir will be there. Beautiful, beautiful rendition of St. Ignatius’ Prayer of Take and Receive that he wrote specifically for this film.
"It’s both in Spanish and English. It’s going to be heard all throughout the movie and the end credits. Really swelling. It’s gorgeous."
THE VATICAN EXPERIENCE. Direk Paolo is more than grateful since his debut movie was screened in the Vatican, a first for a Filipino-produced film.
During the press conference, it was revealed that Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle helped production team to organize the June 14 screening at the Salle della Filmoteca Vaticana, where Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI watch movies.
Cardinal Tagle himself requested it to Pope Francis, since the two are known friends.
Paolo admits he felt overwhelmed upon finding out that their film will be screened in the Vatican.
He said, "I was flabbergasted, who gets to do that, right? At the same time, it felt natural to take that step because we do want to have the people, I guess, the descendants of St. Ignatius to see the story that we did about."
However, only a few members of the film's production team were able to attend the screening in Vatican.
Paolo added, "If I had the power, I would bring all of us there and have us there but it turns out to be a very intimate screening. It was another goosebump moment for us to be there and knowing that Pope John Paul II used to watch films there and Pope Benedict also. It was a very special moment for us. So that's something I'll always remember."
The director revealead that the film wasn't 100% finished when they screened it at the Vatican but he was happy with the feedback they got from those who attended the screening.
Paolo narrated, "We wanted to show them a work in progress type of screening and to get sort of like their blessing in many ways. That the film's content is something that they would agree with and would be enthusiastic about and we weren't too far away from who Ignatius really was.
"And that's the feedback that they gave us. They were very happy that movie accurately represents who Ignatius was, his philosophy, and what made him special. So we're very happy about that."
Some of the Vatican officials who were able to watch the advance screening were Fr Adolfo Nicols SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus; Dr Claudia di Giovanni of the Vatican Secretariat for Social Communication; and Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, Secretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, among many others.
When asked if they also sought the endorsement of Pope Francis to watch the film, Paolo acknowledged other important matters the Pope has to attend to.
Nevertheless, he was still grateful the Pope Francis granted them the opportunity to showcase their film in Vatican. The director told the press, "I think the Pope has many more important things to worry about than endorsing a film but we do have the support of the Jesuit community, and by implications that includes the Pope."
He continued, "I think it's kind of the other way around. The Pope has made such a wonderful impact on church and anywhere, in general. This film, in many ways, is an attempt to support that message of openness, mercy, and try to go to where the church is... It's a little bit like that, we're the fanboys of Pope Francis helping spread that message."
The film will start screening in Philippine cinemas this July 27. International screenings are also in the works.
Paolo noted, "There are international screenings in planning and I think we'll announce it once it's solidifies."