Jasmine Curtis-Smith hopes to make a difference in the way people accept same-sex relationships, especially lesbians.
The 22-year-old star was very engaging during much of the discussion about her new movie, Baka Bukas, which is currently being screened in cinemas.
As a twenty-something lesbian in love with her best friend, Jasmine calls the movie as a platform to “validate and make people belong,” especially young lesbians looking for their place in the world.
“Sabi nga sa isang documentary na napanood ko, ‘You can’t be, what you can’t see.”
For her portrayal, Jasmine won the Best Actress Award at the 2016 Cinema One Originals Festival. Baka Bukas also enjoyed strong social media engagement went it was first screened on cable.
Jasmine believes that movies can minimize the alienation that members of the LGBTQ community feel. Says she, “Maraming tao na they feel that they’re different pero hindi nila completely ma-fulfill ’yong pagkatao nila because wala silang [nakikitang] tao na comfortable enough to be out and proud of who they are completely.
“Importante na mabuksan natin ang isipan ng mga tao by doing this [film].”
In spite of the numerous movies produced every year, only very few represent all types of characters. She continues, “It’s important for younger generations to feel accepted, to grow up in a community that they can feel comfortable with who they are.”
In the past, Jasmine has never had a kissing scene with a guy. However, she did agree to shoot a kissing scene with GMA-7 actress Louise delos Reyes.
Jasmine confirmed, "Ever since, bawal talaga. We made it a rule na off limits kami dun.
"Kasi nung nag-start ako estudyante pa ko ng high school.
"Siyempre, pag teenager ka, ang emotions mo very heightened 'yan. Madadala ka.
"Baka akala mo in love ka talaga sa na-kiss mo."
The 22-year-old actress also believes that kissing scenes are not the only way for people to express their love for one another.
"There's that part na gusto mo talagang protektahan but also gusto namin protektahan ang bawat proyekto.
"Kung hindi naman kailangan, bakit pa natin ilalagay?
"Marami namang different ways to emulate ang pagmamahal o interes sa partner mo sa screen.
"Lahat naman ng pelikula ko walang kiss except Baka Bukas.
"I can say naman na so far, lahat naman ng pelikula na ginawa ko, tinangkilik naman ng manonood. Hindi naman nila hinanap ang halik, di ba?
"Ibig sabihin, hindi mo naman talaga kailangan. Sumasakto lang na willing lahat ng nakatrabaho naming director to compromise if merong nilagay na kissing scene."
Why did Jasmine agree to have a kissing scene with Louise?
"I think kasi kailangan maging open-minded ang maraming tao," she stressed.
"Sobrang okay lang sa maraming tao na kapag bata ka pa, okay lang ang mga lalaki at babae, maghalikan.
"Pero kapag nakita babae sa babae, ang daming nagsasabi, ang laswa naman niyan. Ang pangit niyan.
"No! Bakit tayo ganun? Hindi dapat ganun.
"Love is love. There is no boundary when it comes to gender.
"Bakit natin huhusgahan iyon? I wanted to be part of that type of movement to make people more open-minded and aware.
"Normal lang naman yun. Ano bang mali dun? Pag nakita mo ba ang babae at lalaki na naghalikan, sasabihin mo ba na malaswa yun?
"I just want to strengthen that in the media. Kailangan natin yun. We need to provide all types of people to have representation in the media."
CINEMA ONE 2017 ENTRIES. Baka Bukas is just one of the 15 films that Cinema One plans to release in theatres this year.
The cable network is currently in the midst of choosing entries for the 2017 Cinema One Originals Festival.
Cinema One’s channel head Ronald Arguelles pointed out, “Tinitignan namin ’yong may universal appeal.”
Finalists for the festival will be announced in April. Feature films will be given a budget of P3 million while documentaries will be given a budget of P1.5 million.
While the local cinema scene is still challenging, Filipino movies enjoyed some bright spots last year, and this healthy performance in the box office can be sustained in 2017.
Says Ronald, “As long as the filmmakers, storytellers would come up with films na interesting, may original na idea, and ’yong mga artista they’re excited to work on it, I think masu-sustain.”
He is also hopeful that young audiences will be at the forefront of supporting local films. Baka Bukas targets the young demographic, which now prefers to watch movies online.
“They’re the ones na gusto naming idevelop. We want to bring them out. It’s a big, ambitious goal. But I think pwede pa ring maging malaking social event ’yong going out and watching the movie in the theatre.”
He’s the first to admit though that bringing movies such as Baka Bukas in commercial theatres is a risk, or as he call it, a “luxury.”
The TV executive explains, “Kasi ang laki ng kelangan mong marketing expense. Minsan mas malaki pa ’yong marketing expense kesa sa prod [production] cost ng pelikula.”
It doesn’t help that piracy has become easier. “Second week ng theatrical napa-pirate na siya. Nakakainis nga, e.”
But here’s the bright spot: with the shift to digital filmmaking, making movies has become easier. LGBTQ movies such as Baka Bukas have become easier to produce, giving alternative content to a young audience. Ronald has seen a few promising scripts with narratives that can appeal to a wide range of audiences.
And perhaps these are what local cinema needs at this point—a producer such as Cinema One that is on the lookout for content offering a fresh take on storytelling, and stars such as Jasmine who are open to doing projects with a strong point of view (and pretty eloquent when explaining why doing so is necessary).
With a combo such as this, 2017 might just prove to be another good year for Philippine cinema.