It was a surreal moment for GMA-7 actor Sid Lucero and actress Annicka Dolonius to participate in the 5th New York Asian Film Festival.
Sid and Annicka represented their 2015 surf-drama film Apocalypse Child at the NYAFF organized by the Film Society Lincoln Center.
They were joined by their director Mario Cornejo and producer Monster Jimenez of Arkeo Films at the film fest held from June 22-July 9, 2016 at SVA Theater in Manhattan.
Sid, who plays the title role, was just out of words when asked about the experience and gushed, "Grabe! Lincoln Center, man!"
Annicka also enjoyed her first time in NYC. She recalled, "It was awesome! It was my first time in New York! It was incredible! The buildings are so tall!"
Apocalypse Child is a fictional story of Ford, a surfing instructor based in Baler who has been told all his life that he's the son of Francis Ford Copolla, American director of the 1979 Hollywood film Apocalyse Now.
Gwen Zamora, RK Bagasting, and Ana Abad Santos also star in this film shot in the popular surfing area in Aurora province.
Apocalypse Child was included in the NYAFF's top 10 for its Audience Awards along with crime-drama movie Honor Thy Father starring John Lloyd Cruz and directed by Erik Matti.
To top it all off, a shot from Apocalypse Child was used as the main promo material for the film festival.
The Kapuso actor enthused, "That poster, that was the look of the entire festival. We were the poster children. When we got there, feeling namin kami yung [bida, like] 'whoa!'"
PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) caught up with the cast and crew of the film at a press conference held on October 4 at the Meranti Hotel in Quezon City.
Annicka added that the photo was just a shot that Sid originally planned to just upload on his Instagram account.
The actress noted, "This shot of Apocalypse Child with me and Sid half on the surfboard, they used it as the poster and theme of the festival which meant that we have a big billboard outside the Lincoln Center with, you know, our faces there.
"That was just supposed to be, you know, 'Sid was like, 'Can we take this shot for my Instagram?' And then it ended up on a giant billboard which was incredible. It was an amazing experience."
Amidst the film's success in NYAFF, Sid admitted he was a bit dismayed that members of the Filipino community in New York were not aware of their film being screened at the NYAFF.
The 35-year-old actor said, "It was kinda sad though because apparently, the Filipino community did not know anything about it."
He added, "At least people are aware na when these festivals are around, you have to go grab, support it and spread the word."
Still, they were thankful to receive generally positive reviews from local and foreign film critics. Annicka went on, "We get a lot of tweets and we've gotten a lot really good reviews and people have been really supportive of the film. We got to play in New York, we got to play in Italy. It's been really good."
COMMERCIAL RUN. The cast members and crew of the film are gearing up for the film's commercial run in Philippine cinemas nationwide starting this October 26, a year after its release at the QCinema Film Festival 2015.
This film won several awards including Best Film, Best Director, Technical Excellence in Editing, and Best Supporting Actress (for Annicka Dolonius).
Producer Monster Jimenez admitted that their fans' unwavering support is the main reason they decided to pursue a commercial release for their film through the help of Solar Pictures.
The film producer confessed, "We weren't expecting to get to this point. To be honest, we were just thinking about special screenings, private screenings for a few of you and then, the momentum just kept on going and going and people are starting to ask for screenings until Solar Pictures picked up the film and this is where we are now. I really resisted the idea of having a commercial run but then so many people, there so much love for this film and we decided to just go for it."
She added, "It's not that I didn't think it would have an audience, it's just that I didn't think it would have a nationwide audience. But then, we got so many messages from people who are willing to help out as in, 'We are willing to buy as many tickets as we can to let people watch this film.' And that's very inspiring."
Currently, the film will be screened in 15 cinemas nationwide and the producers hope that they would at least have 30 theaters.
They point out that the film only has a handful of theaters because of its R-18 rating.
Mario confirmed that they are doing some minor tweaks to achieve a rating of R-16 in order to gain a wider audience. The director assured that the main theme of the movie will still remain.
He asserted, "It's still very much an adult film. The theme's very adult, the situation's very adult—there's drugs, there's sex. I think it's only appropriate because the questions we're asking are for an adult audience.
"The theme of the film is for an adult audience, about who are you, are you your father's son, the worst thing you've ever done, the worst thing that has ever happened to you."
With the news of a commercial release, Sid expressed his excitement since most independent films don't get this kind of opportunity.
He told PEP, "I'm super excited, because it's very rare for independent films to have access to our local audience and may mga screenings pero nangyayari sa schools, colleges, high schools, really small groups.
The Kapuso actor hopes that Filipino audience will support independently produced films to open up more opportunities for other filmmakers in an industry dominated by mainstream film producers.
Sid further explained, "The only thing this means is that the Filipino people is given the chance to taste new things, kumbaga. Taste new flavors, kumbaga. I know kasi na we like our rom-coms, we like our comedies, we like our action, we like our bomba, 'di ba? Yun kasi yung history natin sa films, e. I also know networks, like major productions like to stick to these formulas because they know it makes money.
"To me, personally, I think it's like an experiment and a way to find out if it's going to be palatable to the audiences, to the masses, to our local audience. If it works then it might change the way we make films in the Philippines and that's why I'm excited."
He added, "I'm fortunate enough to have entered the industry in the time when independent cinema is being reintroduced to the public, to society.
"These festivals are growing. Dati dalawa lang ata 'yan e, Cinemalaya and Cinemanila, and then now, there's QCinema, there's these other ones."