Stars of the seven competing entries graced the grandpress conference of Cinema One Originals 2008, which was held at the Gusi restaurant in Quezon City last November 12. Most of them have alreadyestablished themselves in the industry but they made it a point to share theirtime and talent to support the growing independent film industry.
Tetchie Agbayani, Joel Torre, and Ronnie Lazaro topbillthe Ilonggo film Yanggaw; Yul Servo and Emilio Garcia star in Dose, which tackles homosexuality; while Mark Gil and Eula Valdes play a couple in Alon.
Jason Abalos leads the ensemble cast of the movie Motorcycle, which alsostars Kat Alano, Jao Mapa, Lance Raymundo, and Jojit Lorenzo. Bembol Roco actsopposite his son Felix Roco for the youth-oriented film UPCAT.
The period melodrama titled Kolorete and Imburnaldo not have big-name stars, but the latter has already distinguished itselfby bagging the Lino Brocka Grand Prize award during the 10th CinemanilaInternational Film Festival held last October.
In fact, Imburnal directorSherad Anthony Sanchez was absent during the press conference since he was inDenmark to attend the screening of his Cinema One 2006 entry Huling Balyanng Buhi.
"I have high hopes for Kolorete and Imburnal becausethey are both extremely experimental," says Ronald Arguelles, the head ofstrategic programming for Cinema One.
"The others, mainstream yung concept,like may aswang sa Yanggaw, yung Motorcycle, isang family drama,yung Dose, isang gay movie, UPCAT is a bagets movie that is veryupbeat. Alon is a love story between Mark Gil and Charee Pineda and asick woman played by Eula Valdez."
The executive also revealed that one of the entriesreceived an X-rating from the Movie and Television Review and ClassificationBoard. "I hope mapalabas namin ang Imburnal in its integral form. Ang pinalabaskasi namin sa Cinemanila, merong mga scenes na tinanggal kasi may nudity talagapero kailangan yun talaga kasi coming-of-age ang concert ni Sherad. Kaya langdi makapasa sa standards ng MTRCB. Pero for me, mas shocking ang film languageniya kasi pinu-push niya ang viewers to another kind of filmmaking style."
STAR-STUDDED FILM FEST. PEP(Philippine Entertainment Portal) was able to interview Mark Gil during thepresscon and we took the opportunity to ask him why he accepted the role of alonely man who goes into a May-December affair with a 17-year-old girlplayed by Charee Pineda. He is also cast in the movie UPCAT.
Mark explained: "Kami, like sina Bembol Roco, Joel Torre, NonieBuencamino, we just love our work. We are here to support indie films and wefirmly believe that one day, the Filipino film industry will once again grow towhat it was like in the past.
"Bilang artista, maganda yung nag-e-evolve ka sageneration mo. Like in my family, three generations na kami since our childrenare following our path in show business. Gaya nga ng sinabi ni Direk Roman[Olivares, director of UPCAT] kanina, hindi raw niya alam kung paanoi-instruct ang mga artista na ito kasi dati pinapanood lang niya kami. Nandunkami para tumulong, we learn from them and we teach them what we have learned."
Tetchie Agbayani took time off from teaching to appearin the film Yanggaw. "I play the matriarch of the family. The dialogueof the movie is in Ilonggo and that was difficult for me. It's a wonderfulstory of a family. It shows the dynamics of a family faced with dark secrets. Iask everyone to watch the movie because the art direction is excellent and itis visually stunning."
Her co-star Joel Torre is also proud of the film Yanggaw(the Ilonggo word for "infected"). He tells the press, "The horroroccurs when tragedy settles in the family. But it's more of psychologicalhorror. We're passing on our knowledge to the new generation so that thetradition of Ilonggo filmmaking and the arts will continue. It is a very ruralstory and it shows our culture of believing in aswangs."
The father-and-son tandem of Bembol and Felix Roco willbe seen for the first time on the big screen in UPCAT."Galing akong U.P. [University of the Philippines] and my son wants to take theentrance exam pero kontra ako dito kasi alam ko kung anong nangyayari saeskuwelahan," narrates Bembol about the film's protagonists.
As for Felix, he says that it was exciting andnerve-racking for him to work with his father. "My knees started shaking and Iwas stuttering," he recalls about his first few scenes with Bembol. "Sobraakong kinakabahan kasi makikita mo, galit na galit siya sa eksena then you'retrying to say your lines pero naii-intimidate ako. I love working with my Dadpero may pressure lang."
The fourth edition of Cinema One is unique because theorganizers opted to screen the films first in selected universities andcolleges around Metro Manila until November 27. (Click HERE to view theschedule of Cinema One Originals 2008.)
After the campus tour, only then will the sevenfinalists have a one-week theatrical screening from December 3 to 10 at theIndieSine of Robinsons Galleria.
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