Now on its fifth year, the Cinema One Originals digital film festival is offering a variety of films that will cater to audiences of all ages. Five scripts were chosen from over a hundred entries and given a grant of one million pesos. These competing films will be screened at Gateway cinemas in Cubao, Quezon City, from November 13-17. This year also marks the 15th anniversary of cable channel Cinema One.
This year's edition will also have a retrospective tribute to directors Danny Zialcita and Brillante Mendoza
The awarding rites of the 5th Cinema One Originals digital filmfest will take place on November 15 at the Dolphy Theater (Studio 1) of ABS-CBN.
For kids and kids-at-heart, there's the children's film Si Baning Si Maymay at ang Asong si Bobo, which tackles the informal education being received by a young girl from an older student.
For youngsters in a romantic mood, they can opt to watch Paano Ko Sasabihin, a romantic comedy about two people who become close through the use of sign language.
For people dealing with issues about their body, they might be able to pick up pointers from Max, a full-figured woman who has tons of confidence, a hefty bank account, and a hearty sex life in the film Maximus & Minimus.
For those who wish to explore the supernatural, there is the Cinema One entry Bala-Bala (which means "kunwari" or "pretending" in Batangueño speech). It is described as a "whimsical-mystery-fantasy" about a pair of faith healers on a journey of discovery into supernatural lore.
Finally, for those who want a good scare, there is Wanted: Border, a dark comedy about a woman who runs a boarding house whose tenants are disappearing one by one. (Ed.'s note: The film's title is really spelled that way because according to the director, their film straddles the border between normalcy and insanity.)
Like past editions of Cinema One Originals, most of the films have mainstream stars as cast members. Some of the films were also shot on location. Baning was shot in Lobo, Batangas, while Bala-Bala was shot in San Jose, Batangas. Wanted: Border was shot in Iloilo, with dialogues in Hiligaynon.
HEAR THE CALL OF LOVE. Erich Gonzales and Enchong Dee portray the two young people who fall in love in Paano Ko Sasabihin despite their pretensions. Their characters meet in the LRT and they are both under the impression that the other person is deaf, so they talk in sign language. Erich's character knows sign language because her brother is deaf while Enchong's character teaches sign language in a school for the deaf.
One of the much-talked about highlights of the film is the kissing scene between Erich and Enchong because this is the first time that they did this kind of scene. Even though their characters have a budding romance in the ABS-CBN show Katorse, they have their very first kissing scene together for this film. (CLICK HERE to view related video.)
Director-writer Richard Legaspi sums up his story by saying, "Ang pelikula ay tungkol sa pagpapanggap ng dalawang tao na sanay mag- sign language at hanggang saan sila dadalhin sa pagpapanggap nila."
Is he afraid that his film will be compared to Dinig Sana Kita? This 2009 Cinemalaya entry tackles the budding romance of a deaf boy and a rocker girl who abuses her hearing.
"Magkaiba po sila sa Dinig Sana Kita, saka sinulat ko ito noong 2002 pa. Magkapareho dahil nagsa-sign language [yung characters]. Ako kasi bilang hearing person, napakahiwaga sa akin na nakikitang may nagsa-sign language. Gusto kong pasukin yung circle na yun. Ito yung character nina Erich and Enchong sa pelikula—kung papaano nila nasubukan pasukin ang mundo ng deaf at paano nila gagamitin ang isang pinaka-powerful at mahalagang communication sa mga kapatid nating mga deaf."
MISSPELLING SPARKS MOVIE IDEA. Three years ago, Ray Gibraltar saw a misspelled sign stating "Wanted: Border" instead of "boarder." This triggered his imagination to write a script involving a crazy landlady.
Rosanna Roces portrays Mama Saleng, a 60-year-old religious fanatic. The mysterious landlady kills tenants in her boarding house and uses the body parts for her eatery. Osang (Rosanna's nickname) studied Hiligaynon for this film, which was shot in Iloilo.
"Kung dati, nag-aapakan lang tayo ng paa, ngayon tayo-tayo na nagkakatayan at nakakainan. Tulungan natin ang mga sarili natin na wakasan ang cycle of violence... sa ating sarili, sa ating pamilya, sa ating komunidad," says Ray.
SEXUALITY MATTERS. Maximus & Minimus stands out for being a comedy of contrasts—literally. The film shows how a plus-sized woman named Max (Cai Cortez) deals with the prospect of pregnancy while her ex-lover Papu (Mikel Campos) has to deal with his small penis. Baron Geisler is also cast as Elmo, the current boyfriend of Max who has a secret fetish.
The lead actress, Cai, pointed out that she did not have any problem shooting her love scene with Baron. "Ever since I was a kid naman, friends na kami ni Baron. Our families are close so very comfortable ako sa kanya. And I know the truth naman na he's a gentlemen talaga. Sa personal experience ko, he's a gentleman and talagang inaalagaan niya yung kasama niya palagi... so hindi po ako nag-alala."
She also has a love scene with her ex-boyfriend Papu in this film.
Cai was shocked when asked about her own sex life during the presscon of Cinema One Originals but she did manage to answer, "I'm not gonna answer if I'm sexually active but my family is open about sexuality."
She was previously part of the Star Cinema film And I Love You So as one of the co-teachers of Bea Alonzo. The daughter of character actor Rez Cortez was supposed to star in the ABS-CBN teleserye Pat is Tin but until now, the show has not yet been aired on the Kapamilya Network. (CLICK HERE to read related article.)
Maximus & Minimus also stars Mhalou Crisologo as the yaya of Max and Ms. Liza Lorena as the grandmother of Max.
LEARNING DURING PLAYTIME. In Baning, director Rommel 'Milo' Tolentino cast Rio Locsin as Aling Mema, the mother of Baning. Her mother doesn't give Baning's education priority but she allows her eldest child Paeng (Jan Harvey Hicana) to go to school because of his gender.
The film follows the misadventures of Baning as she tries to study the alphabet in an improvised classroom that is set outdoors. However, her education from her nine-year old friend Maymay (Joanna Jean Evangelista) gets disrupted by an alcoholic named Domeng (played by Simon Ibarra) and other distractions from neighbors. In line with its kid-friendly theme, the movie also stars animals such as a dog, a goat, fishes and even a duck.
MIRACLE WORKER? The agriculturist in Bala-Bala is portrayed by newcomer Micah Muñoz. Fredrick Aguila (Micah) visits a remote town to find out what disease is causing the death of animals, as well as kids, in the area. He is guided by a mute boy named Amiel (Rold Salamat).
When Fredrick and Amiel come together, they are able to heal children. "Mahiwaga yung bata [Amiel]," says writer-director Melvin Brito. "May isang scene nga na ipapakita namin yung mga alitaptap [through CGI] na lumalapit sa kanya. Noong nagsu-shooting kami, may isang puno talaga na puro alitaptap pero ayaw pakuhaan ng mga locals kasi raw baka ma-engkanto kami."
Shot in San Jose, Batangas, this film also features Jao Mapa as a taong kubol (similar to a taong-grasa) and Angel Jacob, who is barely recognizable as the mangkukulam in the film.
Direk Melvin was born in Manila but he spent his past summers in Batangas. Most of the incidents and characters in the film are inspired by his experiences there.
These five films are produced and owned by Cinema One and Creative Programs Inc (CPI) through its annual Cinema One Originals project.
With reports by Christina Corpuz