The full-length feature Astig is one of the ten full-length films competing in the main section of the 2009 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival. It has the chance to win a Cinemalaya Balanghai trophy and an additional grant of P200,000.
During the July 9 press conference of Astig, the main cast members of the film were introduced to the media at the La Carmela Café in Makati City. Astig is an episodic tale of four young men trying to survive the squalor, filth and perversity of Manila. The movie is topbilled by Dennis Trillo, Sid Lucero, Edgar Allan Guzman, and Arnold Reyes.
It tells the story of Ariel of CM Recto (Dennis), a conman who leaves his girlfriend (Glaiza de Castro) upon learning that he is in love with her; Boy of Oroquieta Street (Edgar Allan), an expectant young father who has to sell his body to pay his wife's hospital bill; Ronald of Escolta (Arnold), a Chinese mestizo who is coming to grips with his identity; and Baste of Arranque (Sid), an overly-protective son who wants to avenge his sister.
In the first episode, viewers will be able to meet Ariel, a conman who operates in Recto Avenue. It was revealed that Dennis will open the film with his love scene with Glaiza de Castro. How was it like shooting the intimate scene with his fellow GMA-7 star?
"Okay siya, maganda yung pagkakagawa niya. Hindi siya bastos kung panonoorin mo. And magaling si Direk GB pagdating sa mga ganon. Talagang tutok talaga siya dito, kasi first movie niya to. Alam ko sa sarili na pagagandahin niya to siyempre ayaw niyang mapahiya kahit kanino, and alam ko yung kakayahan niya bilang director," said Dennis about GB Sampedro, who directs a full-length film for the first time via Astig.
Dennis's character sells fake documents and high school papers in the morning. At night, he brings different girls to motels so he can extort more money from them.
"Kung mananalo kami ng award kung sino man sa min, magiging proud kami. Pero siyempre hindi kami mag-eexpect kasi kung gaano kasaya manalo ng award, ganon din kasakit pag nag-expect ka hindi naman matutuloy. So, bahala na kung anong mangyari, basta masaya kami sa pelikula, kung manalo ng award, thank you."
But aside from bagging the awards, Dennis hopes to present a film that his fans will like, especially since this is a very daring role for him.
FROM TV TO THE BIG SCREEN. Direk GB has established himself as a director of morning talk shows such as Homeboy, Boy and Kris, and Ruffa and Ai.
He admits that directing a full-length feature is a brand new challenge for him. "Yung pinapasok ko na bagong mundo, bagong medium na pwede kong i-direk eh, ginawa ko siyang challenge. Kumbaga yung takot ko, yung kaba, ginawa ko siyang challenge para mapaganda yung produkto."
As a director, GB is inspired by life itself. "Ako, more on yun talaga yung naging impluwensiya ko kasi mas gusto ko yung totoo yung pinapakita ko. So totoo yung mararamdaman nung audience na manonood nung pelikula mo. Siguro kung meron akong influence, yung buhay yon, buhay ng mga tao."
Since the film will feature four different love scenes (one of which is man-to-man as portrayed by Arnold Reyes and Gardo Versoza), what MTRCB rating is Direk GB hoping for?
The new film director said that he is not after the MTRCB rating, but he would rather focus on the actual content of the movie.
"Kung ano yung kailangan para maipakita namin ng tama yung istorya, ginawa namin without any limitation, without thinking na, ah baka maganyan tayo sa rating. Sa kin, as long lang naman na pinakita mo na bawat eksena mong ginagawa, sinushoot na part ng pelikula, may rason, hindi yung para makapag sex scene lang ako, gagawa ako ng sex scene."
TRUE-BLUE MANILENO. Since Astig aims to uncover the seedy side of the "Ever Loyal and Distinguished City," Direk GB revealed that he had an advantage because he was very familiar with the streets of Manila. This is because GB graduated with a degree in BS Accountancy at San Juan de Letran.
"I studied in Manila for ten years. So, lahat yung lugar na yon familiar sa kin. Nilalakad ko yon nung bata ako...Quiapo, Escolta, Binondo. Lahat nung pinag-shootingan namin actually, yan yung time nung nag-o-ocular pa lang ako, ano na yan, nagfa-flashback na sa kin yung dati, high school, college days ko."
The movie's powerhouse cast has 30 mainstream actors and 20 stage actors and newcomers. These include Ai-Ai delas Alas, Pooh, Bianca Gonzalez, Mariel Rodriguez, Sitti Navarro, Jhong Hilario, Vhong Navarro, Chanda Romero, Rustica Carpio, Keanna Reeves, Glaiza de Castro, Angelie Urquico, Gardo Versoza, Emilio Garcia, Kim Atienza, Paolo Paraiso, Mhalou Crisologo, Angeli Bayani, Armand Reyes, Patricia Ismael, Whitney Tyson, Romano Vasquez, Paolo Rivero, and Boy Abunda.
Astig will have its world premiere at the Cultural Center of the Philippines main Theatre on July 18 (Saturday) at 9pm and another gala screening at the CCP Main Theatre on July 23 (Thursday) at 6:15pm. The movie will have other screenings in various CCP venues on July 19, 21, 22, 24 and 25.
For tickets, call Backroom, Inc (9283121) and CCP Box
Click HERE to get a chance to win tickets to selected screenings of Cinemalaya 2009.
Here is the schedule of Astig at the Cultural Center of the Philippines:
18 July/Sat, 9:00PM at Tanghalang Nicanor Aberlardo (CCP Main Theatre)
19 July/Sun, 3:30PM at Tanghalang Huseng Batute
21 July/Tue, 3:30PM at Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
22 July/Wed, 9:00PM at Tanghalang Huseng Batute
23 July/Thu, 6:15PM at Tanghalang Nicanor Aberlardo (CCP Main Theatre)
24 July/Fri, 12:45PM at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theatre)
25 July/Sat, 6:15PM at Bulwagang Alagad Ng Sining (CCP MKP Hall)
With reports by Marrielle Saraos