Celebrities grace Philippine premiere of Kinatay

(From left) John Regala, Brillante Mendoza, Maria Isabel Lopez, Coco Martin, Jhong Hilario, and Ping Medina graced the Philippine premiere of Kinatay at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City last July 30, 2009. Direk Dante narrated why the jurors of Cannes liked the film Kinatay: "Nung napanood daw nila, hindi na sila nakaalis sa istorya parang si Peping. Para rin silang witness sa crime and they felt the danger.

Almost all seats of Cine Adarna were filled up last night,July 30, during the Philippine premiere of Kinatay (The Execution ofP). The celebrated film of Brillante "Dante" Mendoza was finally screenedin the country, allowing Filipinos to watch the movie that earned for DirekDante the Best Director Award in the 62nd Cannes International Film Festival.

Celebrities who attended the invitational premiere night at the UP FilmInstitute in Diliman, Quezon City were Richard Gomez and his wife Lucy Torresas well as the father and son tandem of Ping and Pen Medina. Coco's co-stars inTayong Dalawa Alessandra de Rossi and Jake Cuenca also made it a pointto watch the film. Also spotted in the audience that night were Karylle,Ketchup Eusebio, and Mara Isabella Lopez, the daughter of Maria Isabel Lopez.

Directors Paul Soriano, Lino Cayetano, Gil Portes, and Mark Meily were alsopresent during the screening. Direk Mark also appeared in Kinatay as ateacher in the School of Criminal Justice, where Coco's character is a student.

After the screening, the crowd gave a hearty round of applause for directorwhose films have become known internationally, namely Foster Child (2007),Tirador (2007), and Serbis (2008). Direk Dante and the castmembers of the film then participated in an open forum for the benefit of theaudience gathered that night.

Coco Martin, Maria Isabel Lopez, John Regala, and Jhong Hilario were seatedwith Direk Dante, Carlos Siguion-Reyna and Ed Lejano of the UP Film Institutein order to answer questions from the audience, composed of their friends andmembers of the academe.

Direk Dante said that he spent almost two days defending the screening of his filmsince the MTRCB is claiming that the University of the Philippines and theCultural Center of the Philippines should no longer be consideredcensorship-free areas.

Since they were at a standstill regarding the fate of Kinatay, DirekDante agreed to have his film previewed by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) but on one condition: Ifthe MTRCB cuts his film, he will not allow Kinatay to be screened at UPDiliman.

Kinatay was then given an R-18 rating, approved without cuts.

The film shows a day in the life of Peping (Coco Martin), a Criminology studentwho becomes a witness to the merciless killing of a prostitute (played by MariaIsabel Lopez). The murderers transported the prostitute to a house in Bulacanwhere she was raped and butchered, with her body parts strewn in garbage dumpsall over the metro.

During the open forum, Gabriela Women's party-list representative Liza Masatold the crowd that she was a co-author of House Bill 6425, which aims toabolish the MTRCB and replace it with the Movie and Television ClassificationBoard (MTCB).

Another person asked if the cast members did anything special to compensate forthe darkness of the film.

John Regala pointed out, "Ako, as an individual na character ko, hindi namanako umaarte dito. Parang ang ginagawa kong arte dito para bang may naiwanangbukas na camera diyan na hindi ko alam."

Coco Martin agreed with this statement by saying, "Yung experience ko, si DirekDante ayaw niyang nakikita na umaarte yung artista, dahil pag nakita ka niyangumaarte, papalakpakan ka niya. Ibig sabihin nun, sablay ka. Kaya kami,pinag-aaralan namin kung ano yung natural at pinag-aaralan namin yung characternamin.

"For example, may mga eksena kami ni Ping [Medina] sa Quiapo, kahit pa maynakakakilala sa amin sa Quiapo, hindi namin pinapansin. Hindi niya kamibinigyan ng lines, hindi niya binigay yung lines namin pero pasok dun sa eksenakasi alam namin kung anong gustong mangyari ni Direk Dante."


Former beauty queen-actress Maria Isabel praised the personwho asked the question by saying that she was very observant. "Thank you foryour question. Nung sinu-shoot namin yung film, hindi ko alam kung madilimsiya, kung maliwanag siya kasi nakikita ko lang yung reality na nung sinushootnamin siya. Kung ano lang yung natural, yun lang yung pinakita namin. I justhave to trust my director. It's my first time to work with him [Direk Dante]and I'm happy working with him."

In the movie, Jhong Hilario's character raped Maria Isabel before she waskilled and hacked to pieces. Jhong greeted Direk Dante a happy birthday sincethe filmmaker was celebrating it that day. "I'm so proud na ginawa ko ‘tongpelikulang ‘to. First indie ko po ito."

John Regala also pointed out what makes Direk Dante's styledifferent from other directors. "Mapapansin n'yo na yung kaibahan nungpelikulang to nung araw. Di ba nung araw yung mga artista, naghahanap nganggulo, dito hindi kami naghahanap ng anggulo. Ito yung talagang reality."

WHY NOT CINEMALAYA? Why did he choose to screen his film at theUniversity of the Philippines instead of having


"Kasi all the while akala ko pagdating ko dito, hindi na komagkakaroon ng problema, hindi na ko hahabulin ng MTRCB, because of my badexperience last year."

He is referring to the fact that his film Serbis was edited out by theMTRCB before it was allowed to be screened publicly in theaters.

"Fortunately naman, in-approve siya [Kinatay] na walang cut. Isa langnaman yung purpose namin sa pagpapalabas namin dito sa UP: para hindi na dadaansa MTRCB. Kasi kaming mga filmmakers, ayaw naming nagagalaw yung film namin.Saka para fair din sa mga Filipino audience. Kasi sa ibang bansa siyemprenapapanood nilang buung-buo. Bakit hindi dito sa Pilipinas, di ba?"

PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) asked if he had any regrets about notbeing able to screen his film in Cinemalaya.

"Not really. Wala akong panghihinayang. Kasi even if Iwanted to hindi ko kaya. Kararating lang nung print kanina [July 30] so hinditalaga siya pwede. Kahit na sa Cinemalaya or dito, wala naman akong issue."


Direk Dante revealed that he got the idea for this moviewhen he was conducting research for his 2007 film Tirador. "He was awitness to this killing. First-hand experience niya yun, e. So, yun anginteresting dun."

In one scene of the movie, Peping was able to board a busthat would have taken him elsewhere. However, he decided to return to the housewhere the murder took place. Direk Dante explained that the character wasactually weighing his options at that time.

"He has the option kasi nandoon na siya e, it's eitherescape or be trapped. Kasi kahit na tatakbo siya doon, parang in the midst ofdarkness, hindi niya alam kung anong nasa isip na niya, e. Parang it's betweentwo evils yung choice niya at that time. Kaya ‘eto akala niya, he chooses thebetter evil, pero apparently, na-trap na nga siya. Accomplice pa rin siya,at the same time victim."

Where else can viewers watch his film Kinatay?

Direk Dante admits, "Sa mga schools muna kasi parangang gusto ko pagpinapalabas yung film parang may participation ako. Meron akokumbaga, dialogue sa mga audience after."

Kinatay will be screened at the UP Film Institute this August beforehaving a regular run in select theaters.


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