Ang bagong gay film na Ben and Sam ang magsisilbing opening film sa gaganaping Queer Love Fest na handog ng The Philippine Independent Filmmakers Multi-purpose Cooperative at ng Robinsons Movieworld. Produced by Imaginative Media Productions at OXIN Films, ang indie film na ito ay pinagbibidahan nina Ray An Dulay (as Ben) at Jess Mendoza (as Sam).
Ipapalabas sa IndieSine ng Robinsons Galeria ang mga contemporary "queer Pinoy films"--o mga pelikulang may tema ng kabadingan--from February 17 to 23, 2010. Ang mga ito ay itinanghal commercially within the past two years.
Ang first public screening ng Ben and Sam ay gaganapin mamayang gabi (10:00 PM with cocktails before the screening).
Nakapanayam ng Philippine Entertainment Portal (PEP) ang director ng Ben and Sam na si Mark Shandii Bacolod, na siya ring may likha ng istorya. Second full length film niya ito as director, with Fidel as his directorial debut.
Tampok sa cast sina Ray An Dulay (as Ben), Jess Mendoza (as Sam), Micah Munoz, Tara Cabaero, Angeli Bayani, Malou Crisologo, Jerri Barrios, Dido dela Paz, Simon Ibarra, and Ana Abad Santos Also in the cast sina: Raymond Lim, Arpee Bautista, Andro Morgan, Anton Gomez, Nico Taverna, Jonathan Neri, Tony Lapena, Ace Ricafort, Cai Cortez, Bong Cabrera, among others.
Paano nga ba nagsimula ang pag-conceptualize niya ng Ben and Sam?
"I have always wanted to direct the 'perfect' gay film," simula ni Direk Shandii (as he's called). "The perfect same sex love story that is. Boy meets Boy. Boy falls in love. They live happily ever after. I wanted to get out of the box in telling this story. Get out of the conventional pre-conceived notion and stereotype portrayal of homosexuals in cinema today.
"Love in its very essence is the main reason of living. Love is stronger than death. When it strikes you... it strikes you, no explanations needed, no reasons at all. Ben and Sam takes us to a journey of unconditional love, friendship, self discovery and acceptance. The perfect love, at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
"Is it too much for me to show that homosexuals are just like men and women? We get hurt. We struggle. We fight to survive. We fall in love. We feel pain. We even get lonely at night. And we dream of a happy ending to our so-called 'perfect love story.'"
Ayon pa rin kay Direk Shandii, about three to four years ago ay ginawa na niya ang screenplay ng Ben and Sam, ngunit nabura 'yun sa kanyang computer nang ito'y mag-crash, kasama ang iba pa niyang scripts. Contributing writer pa lang siya noon sa ABS-CBN.
Hanggang sa nakusap niya ang kaibigang si Jazmin Trinidad-Tecson, na bakit hindi sila gumawa ng isang gay film na mura lang ang production cost.
"Sabi kasi nila, kahit maganda o hindi ang istorya, basta gay film, kikita. Kaya ayun, pinanganak uli ang Ben and Sam, pero I asked Archie del Mundo na to write it.
"I gave him the detailed story line and treatment and he wrote the script for me. I entrusted him a very personal belonging. Jazmin became my producer. And we found a love story along the way. Die hard fan ako ng Romeo and Juliet ni William Shakespeare. Gusto ko 'yung so-called Shakespearean tragedy sa film ko.
"Inimbitahan ako ni Ana Abad Santos sa kanyang second directorial stage play na Bare, at doon ko nakita ang sign na dapat ko talagang gawin ang Ben and Sam. Pinaiyak ako ng play. And I knew right there and then that Ana will play my eccentric/bi-polar character, my very own Blanche Dubois [played by Vivienne Leigh in the film A Streetcar Named Desire]. That night, I fell in love again. Romeo and Juliet and Bare were my inspiration.
"Good things happened.. Ang isa ko pang kaibigan, si Sean Lim, joined the team as my co-producer. 'Yung bestfriend ko since my ABS-CBN days na si Eduardo Roy, joined as the production designer. It was perfect!
"Of course, ang isang magandang love story ay kailangan ang isang magaling na kontrabida. Finding the perfect antagonist was the hardest. Thank you to Ricky Gallardo for giving us Micah Munoz—the perfect George. He played his character with conviction and pure honesty. Ana always renders us speechless. They are just two of my precious gems sa pelikulang ito."
In a nutshell, ano nga ba ang kuwento ng Ben and Sam?
"Love. Ben and Sam is about this strong-universal word. As my major characters represent loneliness in all its essence, love teaches us that even in loneliness, there is hope. And that in the end, love is the only thing that matters.
"Sinasabi ng pelikula kong ito na ang mga bading tulad ko ay tulad rin ng mga lalaki at babae. Nasasaktan. Nagmamahal. Lumalaban tayo upang mag-survive. We get lonely at night.
"My story has always been about love. Ang personal journey kong ito ay hindi magiging successful kung wala ang support, help and love of my friends, wonderful actors and Staff. Thank you to my wonderful assistant director and soul sister Karla Pambid, Cinemalaya Cinco Best Editor Charliebebs Gohetia, at lahat ng staff ko.
"As for all the Bens and Sams out there, don't be afraid to love!" sambit ni Direk Shandii.
SYNOPSIS. What could be more tender and passionate than a love that is found during the times of unfathomable longing? At times when everything is unreal, superficial, and uncertain—if love is genuine, it will cross boundaries and will know no limits and sexual categories. But how does unconventional love carry on in the modern world where patterns of morality are still as ironically primeval as the people who creep around it?
Ben (RAY AN DULAY) is a college student who seems to be the most popular guy in campus. He lives a very luxurious life. And everything seems to be perfect and grand. Not really. He has never recovered from the horrors of his childhood under the hands of an abusive father (TONY LAPENA).
His mother (ANA ABAD SANTOS) has never recovered from his father's loss and is now suffering from an acute case of post-traumatic stress disorder—making her slowly lose her sanity. Aside from this dilemma, Ben has yet to face the greatest of it all—accepting who he really is and fighting for the person he really loves.
Sam (JESS MENDOZA) is the new guy in campus. He has transferred from the province carrying with him the burden of a painful past: his boyfriend who is a student activist was killed. All through out, he shares everything that is happening to him to a mysterious caller.
Ben is athletic. Sam is artistic. Ben is sad. And so is Sam. Ben is committed. Sam is waiting. The first kiss will reverse how their old world turns. The second kiss will stop their new found world from turning.
Everything would seem to be perfect and gay. But not for long. Suddenly, they will become infamous. The butts of the jokes in the campus: Campus Queers. George (MICAH MUNOZ), who is Ben's best friend, is secretly jealous of everything that Ben has: his girlfriend (TARA CABAERO), his popularity, his otherwise charmed life—until he discovers that Ben is someone he doesn't really like. They may never have a gay ending.
Story and Direction -- Mark Shandii Bacolod
Executive Producers -- Mark Shandii Bacolod and Jazmin Trinidad-Tecson
Producer -- Jazmin Trinidad-Tecson
Co-Producers -- Tessa Aquino and Sean Lim
Line Producer -- Roan Belle Ng
Editor -- Charliebebs Gohetia
Musical Director -- Ian Banawa
Screenplay -- Archie del Mundo
Director of Photography -- Rain Yamson, II
Production Designer -- Eduardo Roy Jr.
Assistant Director --Karla Pambid
2nd Assistant Director -- Jayar Diaz
Film Scorer -- Herrick Ortiz
Production Managers -- Romuald Lagasca and Arnold de Jesus
Sound Design -- Marlon and Dodoy Ongleo
Art Director -- Jerome Zamora
Stylist and Wardrobe Master -- Jay Gabor
Hair and Make-Up Artist -- Sarah Jose
Costume Design -- Tessa Aquino and Nikki Sonico
Ang Ben and Sam ay naging participant sa Co-Production Meeting ng11th Cinemanila International Film Festival 2009, headed by Ms. Sonja Heinen ng World Cinema Fund ng Germany.
Originally, gusto sana ng director na si Vince Saldana (Viva talent) ang gumanap na Ben at si DM Sevilla (dating ABS-CBN Star Circle Quest finalist) naman for the role of Sam. Pero ang dalawa'y hindi pa handa sa mga ganitong gay roles na may intimate scenes with the same sex.
DIRECTOR'S PROFILE. Mark Shandii Bacolod is a member of ABS-CBN's Writers Circle Batch 1, which was trained by Ricardo Lee and ABS-CBN Head writer-Director Dado Lumibao. He was a writer for television for more than 3 years with shows like Mangarap Ka, Vietnam Rose, Entertainment Konek, PBB Season 1 and PBB Celebrity Edition Season 1.
He wrote and directed some stage plays during college. Shandii started his writing with poems, haikus and essays before penning stage plays and teleseryes.
Today, he is a full time filmmaker. He was named one of San Miguel Beer's Freshest Filmmakers of 2006. In 2007, he directed The Vizconde Massacre episode of GMA-7's Case Unclosed hosted by Kara David.
In 2008, he directed Charlotte Dianco's Fidel, a semi-finalist in Cinemalaya 2007. Fidel was the Official Selection at the first Filipino International Film Festival Los Angeles and shown at Robinsons Galleria last January.
His second directorial film is a short film titled 5 Minutes, an official selection at the 5th Titus Brandsma Indie Short Film Festival. His film Panahon Na (The Time Is Now) wherein he worked as the associate director and line producer already premiered in Boston last year and had its Philippine premiere at the 11th Cinemanila International Film Festival.
Aside from directing films, Shandii has taken on a number of roles in the filmmaking industry. His film credits include Aloy Adlawan's Signos as Assistant Director. The film became Best Foreign Film in the Lone Star International Film Festival in Forthworth, Texas and winner of Excellence Award in California 2007.
He is the production manager of Sigrid Andrea Bernardo and Bong Ramos's Haw Ang. Shandii is also a full-time casting director and a part-time actor. His TV appearances include Mangarap Ka, Ysabella and an MRT Commercial. Film appearances include Mudraks, Roomboy, and Xenoa 2: Clash of the Bloods (as production designer and assistant director).
Now, he is also busy line producing an action-packed digital film titled 4 To 5, directed by first-time directors Dan and Brandon Relucio. When not making films, he is directing events, music video and audio-visual presentations.
He has been working for at least one film for the CCP-sponsored film festival since its inception in 2005. In the first edition of Cinemalaya, he was cast in Aloy Adlawan's Roomboy. The year after, he worked on two entries--Dado Lumibao's In Da Red Korner (as production manager and assistant director) and Arah Jell Badayos and Margaret Guzman's Mudraks (as production manager).
2007 saw him as Auraeus Solito's assistant director of the multi-awarded Pisay and associate production manager to Katski Flores' Still Life. Pisay was Cinemalaya's Best Production Design, Audience Choice Awardee and Best Direction. It also won 8 Golden Screen Awards and two awards from the PMPC Star Awards for Movies. The movie competed in the 14th Vesoul International Film Festival bagging the Grand Jury and Audience Choice Awards.
In 2008, Shandii worked on three films for Cinemalaya: as assistant director in Paul Morales' Concerto; as associate producer and assistant director in Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil's Boses; and as 2nd assistant director in Chris Martinez's 100. The film 100 won 5 major awards in Cinemalaya 2008: Best Direction and Best Screenplay for Chris Martinez, Audience Choice, and Best Actress for Mylene Dizon and Best Supporting Actress for Eugene Domingo.
100 also won the Audience Choice Award at the Pusan International Film Festival of that year. Boses and 100 together with Ploning were honored as Best Pictures at The Gawad Tanglaw. Boses bagged 5 major awards at Golden Screen Awards including Best Motion Picture-Drama; and Concerto won Best Production Design and Best Adapted Screenplay. Concerto and Boses also won some awards in the PMPC Star Awards for Movies.
In Cinemalaya 2009, Shandii was assistant director to Alvin Yapan's Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe (The Rapture of Fe). It bagged the Special Jury Prize award for Best Picture together with Colorum and won the Golden Award at the Cairo International Film Festival 2009.
Last year, Shandii was associate director of Maximus and Minimus, directed by Nap Jamir II, official entry to the Cinema One Originals Film Festival. This year, he's an actor in Han Salazar's Fling.