International screening beckons MMFF Best Picture "Baler"

Baler director Mark Meily(not in photo) hopes to see more films tackling the country's rich history andculture in the future. This Metro Manila Film Fest entry is topbilled by Anne Curtis and Jericho Rosales.

Viva Entertainment'srecent Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry Baleris gaining attention both here and abroad.The movie is based on thehistoric Siege of Baler in 1898 and focuses on the love story between a Spanishsoldier played by Jericho Rosales and a native lass portrayed by Anne Curtis.

Director Mark Meily proudly informed PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that invitations from variouscountries poured in immediately after Baler's strong showing on local theaters. Our conversation took place at the press conference of Q11's upcoming snack comedyshow Ü Women, held at Dulcinearestaurant on T. Morato Ave., Quezon City,yesterday, January 7.

"We got invitationsalready, two from the U.S. tapos isa from Spain. I'm sure marami pang follow-upand then, ang daming Filipinos from other countries who are writing to Viva, whowrote to me they're asking baka puwedeng magkaroon ng special screening inCanada, Middle East."

BITTERSWEET TRIUMPH. Baler raked in a total of 10 awards atthe Gabi ng Parangal of the 34th Metro Manila Film Festival stagedlast December 27 at the Sofitel Harbor Tent in Pasay City. The soft-spokendirector singled out Anne's unexpected victory as the highlight of all theawards that the movie garnered.

"Malaking bagay si AnneCurtis winning Best Actress, kasi ang daming nagsasabi, ang daming critics na kesyohindi siya [Anne] bagay, hindi siya marunong mag-Tagalog, baluktot ang dilaniya—and you proved otherwise nung nanalo siya," said Direk Meily over acup of coffee.

Lead actor Jericho Rosales,however, fell short of winning the Best Actor award, which went to Christopher de Leon for Magkaibigan. Many felt that Jericho,with all due respect to Christopher, should have won, a sentimentshared strongly by Baler's director.

"I would think, angdaming nagsasabi sentimental favorite si Christopher de Leon. Sa akin, on myopinion, Christopher de Leon is a good actor, is a great actor. But JerichoRosales had a bigger challenge kasi ‘yong character ni Boyet is a dying person, kayang-kaya niya ‘yan, e. I'm sure he's done that somewhere before. Pero siJericho, ‘yong progression nung character niya spans more than a year, nag-iiba ‘yonghitsura niya, nag-iiba dapat ‘yong characterization niya. Plus he has to actSpanish so mahirap ‘yong ginawa niya."


Mark has donethree full-length commercial movies: Crying Ladies (2003), La VisaLoca (2005), and Baler (2008). All these films were critically acclaimed and the recent success of Baler only proves that Meily's winningstreak is far from over.

"Bihira ako gumawa ng pelikula,"Mark stated candidly. "The last film I did was in 2005, so three years ago. La Visa Loca, ‘yon naman natuwa akodahil ang daming nagsasabi si Robin Padilla hindi marunong umarte, perohe practically swept all of the Best Actor awards. Nakakatuwa na bihira akogumawa ng movie, and yet, when I do something, at least critically acclaimed ornananalo ng awards."

HOPINGFOR THE BEST. We asked Mark if he's choosy about his film projects.

After a short pause,Meily enthused: "Kasi I do TV and TV commercials, ‘yon yung pinaka-bread andbutter ko, and I make a good living doing these things. So kung gagawa ako ngpelikula, gusto ko it should be worth my while para sulit naman. Siyempre gustoko din kumita, e, lalo sa pelikula ngayon, ang hirap kumita sa pelikula.

"I havegreat respect to people, to everyone doing feature films kasi sila 'yongbumubuhay ng industry, considering kokonti na lang ang ginagawang films ngayon.So, on my part, kung gagawa ako ng pelikula, sana lang may laman, may katuturan. Not necessarily historical lagi, pero hindi lang para kumita."

He paused once morebefore contradicting his last statement, carefully weighing his personal standon the subject of artistic against commercial merit.

"Siyempre gusto ko dinkumita. Sa ‘kin importante na kumita ang isang pelikula," he said seriously. "Mayibang director, for them, ‘Wala akong pakialam kahit hindi naintindihan ng audience.' Kasi sa akin naman, utang ko ‘yonsa producer, e. The fact na nagtiwala siya sa ‘kin, kelangan kahit papaano maymaibalik din ako sa kanya."

With Baler, Mark is hoping that moreproducers would start digging deep into the country's history and come up withrelated projects to offer to the viewing public.


"Ang daming takotgumawa ng pelikula, lalo na takot gumawa ng historical movie. Pero ang magandakasi sa historical movie, ‘yong nangyayari lagi diyan, ‘yong situation—love,war, pain, struggle, survival—universal ‘yan. Sa lahat ng bansa, sa lahatng cultures, maiintindihan 'yan, e and yet you're presenting it sa point of viewng Filipino. So, ‘yong ibang bansa, mas nakikila ang Philippines kung makikitanila ‘yon," Mark pointed out.





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