PART 2 Robbie Tan on accusation that Cinemalaya has lost its indie spirit: "Alam mo, sa kanila [filmmaker] pa rin ang approach. Lahat, sa kanila pa rin."


Ayon sa ilang mga kritiko, hindi na raw "indie" ang spirit ng Cinemalaya.

Ano’ng reaksiyon ni Robbie Tan, ang monitoring head ng festival?

"Hindi naman," pagtanggi niya.

"Hindi, e. Alam mo, sa kanila [filmmaker] pa rin ang approach. Lahat, sa kanila pa rin.

"’Yung first [six] requirements lang [ang dapat nila ayusin]... After that, larga na sila! At ’tsaka, papaano mo sasabihin na...

"Kasi, kung ganoon ang sasabihin mo, eight years na ako sa Cinemalaya, ano’ng klaseng mga pelikula ba ang lumalabas—mainstream movies ba?

"Kung mainstream movies ang lumalabas, that means [dapat], tanggalin ako!

"Kung mainstream ang utak ko... I mean, the proof is there!

"Tsaka, kung hindi ako effective, kami ni Laurice [Guillen, Cinemalaya Competition Chairperson], bakit maraming magagandang mga pelikula ang lumalabas?

"Kami ni Laurice ang nagbabantay!" seryosong depensa ni Robbie.

Nang mabalitang na-disqualify kamakailan ang pelikulang MNL 143 sa New Breed category ng 8th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival ngayong taon (gaganapin sa July), naging maingay ang isyung ito sa indie film community.

Ang MNL 143 ay kuwento ng isang FX taxi driver na nagtrabaho sa Saudi ng sampung taon at pagbalik ng Pilipinas ay hinahanap nito ang long-lost love niyang babae.

Ang pelikula, na entry ng baguhang writer-director na si Emerson Reyes at producer na si Nestro Abrogena ay na-disqualify diumano dahil sa "casting issue."

Nais ng filmmaker na gumanap sa cast ang character actor na si Alan Paule at comedienne-singer na si Joy Viado—na hindi inaprubahan ng Cinemalaya Organizing Committee, dahil daw "walang chemistry" ang tandem ng dalawa.

Ayon pa sa Cinemalaya letter, tatlong aspeto ang kanilang kinunsider o ginawang basehan para sabihing "walang chemistry" ang tambalang Alan-Joy—competence, suitability to the role, at acceptance of the audience.

Ano’ng explanation ni Robbie Tan dito?

"Kadalasan, dalawa ang unanimous na aming tinitingnan. Sa kasong ito, competent sila."

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Saang aspeto hindi nakapasa ang tambalang Alan-Joy sa panlasa nila as Cinemalaya committee?

"Fit... kung fit sa role... Yung chemistry noon. Yung both, ha? Kasi, kung si Joy Viado ang nandoon and another actor, puwede rin... baka!"

So, individually kela Joy and Alan, walang problema?

"Wala," aniya.

"Siguro, kung si Joy ang andoon, tapos, si Wally Bayola ang nilagay, my God, siyempre, [good] chemistry yun.

"Swak yun! ’Di ba? Tama ba ’yon? Puwede rin yung Jose Manalo."

Impormasyon pa mula kay Alan Paule, sinabi nitong nabanggit rin daw ang pangalan nina Cherry Pie Picache, Mylene Dizon, or Zsa Zsa Padilla as mga "pegs."

"Alam mo kasi, ’pag nagbe-brainstorm, lumalabas yung maraming names. Nililista namin kung ano ang mga possibilities at ’saka peg.

"So, we list a lot of names, tapos, sila ang nagsasabi na, ’Ay, hindi! Eto ang envision namin!’" kuwento niya.

BOYCOTT CINEMALAYA. A few days ago, isang former Cinemalaya fimmaker ang nag-post sa kanyang FB account na dapat i-boycott daw ang naturang filmfest—bagamat sa region lang nila ito sinasabing dapat i-boycott.

Ano’ng masasabi ni Robbie sa usaping boycott?

Napa-buntong hininga muna si Robbie, "Tingnan natin kung magwo-work.

"Pero, I don’t know. Kasi, madali namang magsasabing, ’Boycott, boycott!’... Depends ’yan sa tao... Ang tao naman, e..

"Kasi, may track record na ang Cinemalaya e. Hindi naman isang grupo lang o isang tao ang magsasabi noon...

"Parang sasabihin mo, ’Magkudeta!... O, magkudeta na tayo!’

"Parang gano’n lang, ’di ba? O, nagkudeta ba? Sasabihin, ’Halika na, magkudeta na!’ Nangyari ba?" natatawang reaksiyon ni Robbie.

"Kasi, may track record na [ang Cinemalaya], e. We have proven something na rin..."

NOT THE FIRST TIME. Sabi nila, hindi lang daw ito ang unang pagkakataong "nakialam" siya sa casting sa Cinemalaya. The past years daw ay ganito na rin daw ang kanyang ginagawa.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Halimbawa, ang sabi ng stage actress na si Che Ramos sa Facebook, dapat daw ay siya ang kasama sa The Leaving (Cinemalaya 2010), pero "nawala" siya sa cast, at pinalitan ni LJ Reyes (StarStruck alumna).

"O, tama, si LJ Reyes ang pumalit... Sino’ng nanalo roon?" balik-tanong sa amin ni Robbie.

Sagot namin, si LJ nga—nanalong Best Supporting Actress.

"O, see?" reaksiyon nito.

Si Che Ramos ay nagbida rin naman sa Mangatyanan ni Direk Jerrold Tarog, a Cinemalaya 2009 finalist.

Tanong ni Robbie sa amin, "Next, sino?"

Birong tugon namin, "Naku, iisa-isahin ko ba, Tito Robbie? Ang dami noon!"

"Sige lang, para malaman natin," paghahamon niya.

"Halimbawa, sa Halaw [ni Direk Sheron Dayoc], first choice ng production si Maria Isabel Lopez...

"Sino ang nanalo, umikot na rin abroad ang film, di ba? Sino pa?"

Usap-usapan, ayaw daw niya sa indie film and TV actress na si Mercedes Cabral, na napapansin na rin ng award-giving bodies sa kahusayan nito sa pag-arte.

Last year, inayawan raw ni Robbie si Mercedes na gumanap na leading man ni Edgar Allan Guzman sa Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me. Ang gusto raw niya sa nasabing role ay si Lovi Poe. Totoo ba ito?

"Oo, totoo yun," pag-amin niya.

"Personal ko lang yun, kasi, alam mo kasi, kung minsan, ’pag nagsalita ako, mahirap, kasi, ang feeling ng iba, sinisiraan ko yung artista. Ayoko nang gano’n, e.

"Ang sinabi ko lang, hindi bagay sa role.

"Yung role kasi, crush siya ng bayan, nag-aaral sa iisang eskuwelahan, class na class, at yung pelikula is, you know, may pagka-bagets...

"So, iniisip ko kasi... It’s personal taste. Kaya lang, nakiusap sila [production head] and na-approve.

"Nagbigay sila ng reason. Sabi nila, di daw nila puwedeng kunin si Lovi Poe kasi, may [breast] exposure. Gusto nila, may breast exposure...

"Which is naiintindihan namin ni Laurice. Kaya, it was a go!"

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

COMPROMISE. So, ganoon naman pala at nakikipag-compromise o open rin pala sila sa production kung kinakailangan?

"Talagang tinitingnan rin namin... Kasi, ang acting, tinitingnan namin, hindi individual lang. In other words, tinitingnan mo in totality, with the other stars.

"Kasi, gano’n dapat e, tinitingnan mo, whole package. ’Tsaka, tinitingnan mo kung nagwo-work.

"At ako, kung minsan, ito ang feeling ko, ibibigay ko kay Laurice, pag-aaralan nila.

"Nagtatanong ako minsan. Nagtatanong ako kay Bing [Armando Lao, a respected screenwriter].

"Tulad ng Ligo Na U... tinanong ko kay Bing. ’Bagay ba si Mercedes sa role na ganito ang project?’

"’Ay, ’di ba, si Mercedes, reyna yun ng indie? Reyna siya ng mga slums!’ So, tinatanong ko yun.

"Akala mo tuloy, sinisiraan ko ang artista, which is not [true]."

Ano’ng pakiramdam niya sa personal na pag-atake sa kanya ng ilang mga tao sa mga isyung kinasasangkutan niya sa Cinemalaya mula noon. Does he find it unfair?

"Obviously," aniya.

"I think I don’t even need to answer.

"Siyempre, you’re hurt, because these are the very people you’ve helped in the past! I’ve helped so much, kami ni Laurice...

"We go out of our way, with our own resources.

"Ilang beses ko tinawagan si Leo Dominguez for Lovi Poe.

"Ilang beses kong tinawagan si Manny Valera, para sa mga artista niya? ’Manny, ganito...’

"Yung ibang mga managers pa, just to tell them, ’Uy, wala namang pera ang Cinemalaya, pagbigyan mo na, ’wag ka na mag-charge!’

"Ang dami kong tinatawagan!"

Feeling ba niya ay hindi nakipag-cooperate ang grupo ni Reyes?

"Understood na, the fact na nagkaroon ng conflict, hindi ba?

"Kasi, I also feel the filmmaker. I always feel.

"Alam ko ang trabaho. Kasi, pag andiyan ka, di ka puwedeng one sided. Tsaka, alam ko yung indie [spirit].

"Kasi, nag-workshop kami kay Bing Lao.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

"Lagi na, sinasabi ni Bing kung ano yung ano... So, we went to orientation."

MARKETING. Sabi pa ni Ed Instrella, kaya daw nasa Cinemalaya ang isang Robbie Tan, e dahil alam daw nito ang marketing side ng films. Ano’ng comment niya dito?

"Hindi lang yun."

Ganoon ba kahalaga ang marketing sa Cinemalaya films?

"Hindi," aniya. "Sa quality pa rin ng film. Kung mapu-pull off ang film, at kung magkakaroon ng unforgettable performances.

"Sa akin, mahalaga yun... Ang iniisip ko muna, siguro, magkakaroon ng unforgettable performances [ang artista dito], or ma-cite at mabigyan ng award o mapansin, lalo na sa ibang bansa...

"Yun naman talaga ang goal [ng Cinemalaya]! Iniisip natin, ’Ano kaya kung siya ang gumanap noon?’"

Saan pumapasok ang aspeto ng business o marketing?

"Very minimal. Alam mo, honestly, sa Cinemalaya, very very minimal...

"Wala, wala kami doon sa business side... Wala nga, e!

"Kasi, for indie films, di mo puwedeng isipin ang business side.

"Kaya lang, iniisip ko rin, ang connectivity. Dapat, nagko-connect sa audience.

"Naiintindihan ng audience. Kasi, kung hindi magko-connect, what’s the point?"

First time daw nila sa Cinemalaya na may isang finalist na humingi ng letter of disqualification?

"Oo. Gano’n nga! May pagka... Very... Minsan, [naiisip ko], ang mga nangyayari ngayon ay work of the devil, e!" matapang nitong pahayag.

MANY FILMMAKERS STILL JOIN. In general, ano ang personal na mensahe niya sa mga young filmmakers na nais sumubok sa Cinemalaya, ngunit parang nabe-brainwash ng iba dahil sa isyung ito—gamit ang malawakang social networking sites?

"Dapat, they should check the experience," malumanay niyang tugon.

"Kasi, every year, ang dami pa namang nagjo-join. Kung hindi okey ang Cinemalaya, bakit ang daming nagjo-join?

"So, it’s an indication na it’s okey. And ang daming nagre-repeat [na filmmakers]. Bumabalik-balik!

"Tsaka, nakita mo naman kung ilang filmmakers na ang na-launch namin? At nag-cross over pa sila sa mainstream?

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

"Si Chris Martinez, nakagawa ng pelikula sa Star Cinema [Here Comes The Bride], si Jade Castro, gumawa na sa GMA Films [My Kontrabida Girl]...

"So, it’s an indication..."

Sa Cinemalaya inilunsad ang film career ni Chris Martinez sa first full length film nitong 100 (kunsaan nanalo si Mylene Dizon ng ilang best actress awards mula sa Cinemalaya, Urian, FAP, at Golden Screen Awards).

Si Martinez ay siya ring sumulat ng script ng blockbuster na Kimmy Dora, at nag-direk rin ng Temptation Island mula sa Regal Entertainment, sumulat at nag-direk ng tig-isang episode ng My Valentine Girls ng GMA Films at Shake Rattle and Roll (last year) ng Regal pa rin.

First full-length film naman ni Jade Castro ang Endo (Cinemalaya 2007) na nagbigay rin kay Jason Abalos ng Urian Best Actor, hanggang sa kinuha na rin siya ng Star Cinema to direct My Big Love (Sam Milby and Toni Gonzaga), back to indie with the blockbuster film Zombadings: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington, at ito ngang My Kontrabida Girl ng GMA Films na showing na next week.

OGGS’S RESIGNATION. Samantala, at the height ng kontrobersiyang ito ay pumutok rin sa Facebook ang pagre-resign umano ni Oggs Cruz, isang Cinemalaya Selection Committee member (at film blogger/critic rin).

Nagsilbing committee member si Oggs noong isang taon (2011) at ngayong taon (2012) sa Cinemalaya, sa pagpili ng official finalists sa full-length film category.

Pero ang isang rebelasyon ni Robbie, nag-resign daw itong si Oggs sa panahong tapos na ang trabaho nito. Ano o paano ba ang trabaho ni Cruz sa Cinemalaya?

"Kasama siya sa mga namimili among the entries, kasama siya doon."

Sabi ni Robbie, usually raw ay 100 to 200 applicants ang nagsa-submit ng scripts taun-taon sa Cinemalaya.

"From there, noong nakapili na kami ng Top 13 sa New Breed category, and 6 sa Director’s Showcase, then, bahala kaming mag-process noon, mag-check kung magpi-fit.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

"Kasi, kung minsan, hindi mo na alam kung may mga things na hindi nila kayang i-comply."

Taun-taon, anim ang members ng Cinemalaya Organizing Committee —sina Tonyboy Cojuanco, Tessie "Tess" Rances (Head Admin of CCP), Nestor Jardin (CCP Director), Maan Hontiveros (Board Member, Cinemalaya Film Foundation), si Robbie at si Laurice.

Ani Robbie, ang Selection Committee ng Cinemalaya entries ay laging lima, taun-taon ito, at napapalitan. Nagkataon daw na sa magkasunod na taon ay napili ng festival si Cruz.

"Nagbabago yun taun-taon. It so happened na for two consecutive years ay napili siya," ang sabi ni Robbie.

Kadalasan, last quarter of the year ang deadline for submission of entries, and in a few weeks or a few months time ay umpisa na ang madugong proseso ng pagpili nila ng mga karapat-dapat na story line o sequence treatment na mga naipasa ng iba’t-ibang filmmakers na nais lumahok sa Cinemalaya.

Dagdag pa ni Robbie, nabasa raw niya ang resignation letter ni Cruz, addressed to Direk Laurice. Na-post rin niya ito sa kanyang online blog, maging sa kanyang Facebook account.

Ang dating sa karamihan ng nakakabasa ng nasabing letter, e, ongoing pa rin ang kanyang trabaho sa Cinemalaya, bago ito nag-resign mahigit isang linggo pa lang ang nakakaraan.

"I never communicated with him after... Kasi, tapos na [ang trabaho niya], e. Wala na siyang business. Tapos na... Done!" paliwanag ni Robbie.

PEPE DOES PREACH. Isa pang "nag-figure" na personalidad sa Cinemalaya brouhaha na ito ay si Pepe Diokno.

Nailunsad bilang isang full-length filmmaker si Diokno sa pamamagitan ng nasabing indie filmfest.

Siya ang direktor ng Engkuwentro (starring Felix Roco), isang Cinemalaya 2009 finalist.

Ang Engkuwentro ay lumahok sa prestihiyosong Venice International Film Festival 2009, at nanalo ito ng dalawang awards—ang Orrizonti Prize for Best Picture at ang Luigi de Laurentiis Award for Debut Film (with cash prize).

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Ngunit isa ring kolumnista si Diokno. Sa kanyang Pepe Don’t Preach opinion column sa Philippine Star dated March 3, 2012, nagsulat ito ng kanyang personal na saloobin tungkol sa isyung ito sa Cinemalaya.

Sa nasabing column, na-quote rin ng kolumnista sina Guillen at Tan sa artikulong lumabas sa kanila dito sa PEP.ph. Narito ang ilang parte nito:

"There’s trouble brewing at Cinemalaya. Every year, the ’Independent Film Festival’ gives money to ’10 fresh talents’ in order to ’create the film of their dreams,’ and ’freely interpret the Filipino experience’ with ’artistic integrity’—this, according to their website, www.cinemalaya.org.

"But the festival this week disqualified one of its grantees for doing just that. The plug has been pulled on Emerson Reyes and his debut feature, MNL 143. The reason: ’We did not like his casting,’ Cinemalaya monitoring head Robbie Tan said in an interview with Pep.ph.

"Now, Tan’s word is gold. He is, of course, the producer behind such Filipino classics as Itlog, Talong, Kandungan, and Patikim ng Pinya.

"But can Cinemalaya really disqualify a film because of casting? What about ’freedom,’ ’creating the film of one’s dreams,’ and ’artistic integrity?’

"Now, as a filmmaker, I can tell you that casting is a creative endeavor. Director Milos Foreman [who made One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest], once said that choosing actors is 80 percent of his job.

"Actors make or break a movie. They’re the faces people see, the main thing audiences remember, and the vessel for every story and emotion.

"But actors also sell films. Their names get people to troop to the theaters and buy tickets. That’s why big movie studios control casting—Star Cinema dictates when John Lloyd Cruz appears, and it’s easier to get Hollywood to fund a movie with Brad Pitt than it is with an unknown.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

"But Star Cinema and Hollywood do this because they’re protecting the millions and millions they spend on a movie. They need to get their money back or they’re dead, and thousands of people lose their jobs.

"Cinemalaya, on the other hand is, ’a non-stock, not-for-profit, non-government foundation.’ They provide ’financial grants’ that barely cover the cost of production. Why then, would they interfere in Emerson Reyes’s casting?" ang tanong ni Diokno sa kanyang column.

AUDIENCE ACCEPTABILITY. Ayon pa rin sa column ni Diokno, "’The basis of our interest in casting is that we want... greater audience acceptability,’ writes Cinemalaya competition director Laurice Guillen in a letter to Emerson Reyes.

"Audience acceptability? I think I’ve heard that before... from the organizers of the Metro Manila Film Festival.

"Robbie Tan offers another explanation.

"’[In Cinemalaya], the filmmakers own the film... Except that we want to have a say on how it should be done,’ he tells PEP.ph.

"’E, ganun naman talaga ’pag meron kang binigay na pera, di ba? At least you have a say, di ba?’ he continues.

"Cinemalaya calls itself ’free,’ but what they’re really telling their filmmakers is, ’Congratulations, you get 500,000 pesos! It’s yours! You own it! But, by the way, I decide how you spend it.’

"That’s freedom... if the dictionary definition of freedom were not, ’the power to act as one wants without hindrance.’

"Imagine if Diet Coke wasn’t really diet? Now, imagine a Cinemalaya that isn’t really malaya," ang sabi pa ni Diokno sa kanyang column.

"To Guillen and Tan’s mind, Cinemalaya doesn’t give grants, they give investments. And the filmmakers’ main purpose it to help them meet their bottom line.

"This is a far cry from what the festival started as, and what its funder, philanthropist Tonyboy Cojuangco, intends it to be.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

"Tonyboy is a committed supporter of the arts. In addition to Cinemalaya, he backs Ballet Philippines and Tanghalang Filipino. He seldom takes credit for his contributions, and he watches all of the Cinemalaya films, taking his friends to screenings like a proud dad.

"But unlike some people, he respects filmmakers. That’s why, even if Tonyboy keeps Cinemalaya running out of his own pocket, he has never asked a filmmaker to cast Gretchen Barretto.

"Now, Cinemalaya is a private company, and of course it can do what it wants with its cash. But it should perhaps be more honest about how it works," ayon sa column ni Diokno.

"Every year, hundreds of wide-eyed, idealistic talents come to them for help. Tell these people that the grants they’re getting aren’t grants, they’re investments—which means there are investors who have a say in their work and will take away rights for their own profit.

"Tell these people that they won’t really be ’malaya.’ That they will have to follow the guidance of Laurice Guillen, and compromise with her along the way.

"And tell them that they won’t really be making the ’film of their dreams’ that they will also have to accommodate the dreams of the producer of Itlog—which are, quite possibly, nightmares.

"Then, discerning filmmakers would consider alternatives. And there are many...

"But to be absolutely honest, Cinemalaya has contributed—hugely, greatly, and significantly are understatements—to the development of our film industry. Last year’s edition was a banner year, with several films gaining box office success, and more films achieving creative triumphs.

"Something has just gone off this year. We have the disqualified Emerson Reyes—a young filmmaker who asked Cinemalaya for guidance and was shut out—given little room to decide his own direction, and succeed or fail on his own talent.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

"Maybe some people need to change. They must go back to guiding filmmakers and respecting talents, even if they’re young and inexperienced.

"And then, maybe Cinemalaya can keep its name—a ’malaya, Independent Film Festival’—and continue gifting this country with the most compelling and original movies the world has ever seen.

"Otherwise, I propose a name change: ’Cinemalabo: The Festival Where We Tell You One Thing and Do Another,’" ang sabi ni Diokno sa kanyang column.

RESPECT US. Nabasa ba ni Robbie Tan ang column na ito ni Pepe Diokno?

"Hindi ko binasa kasi, it will make me feel depressed," ani Robbie.

"Well, feeling ko lang... I feel sad," pag-amin niya.

"Kasi, how come na ito yung mga [taong] nagkaroon ng biyaya and benefitted from Cinemalaya, and we helped so much...

"Of course, may mga issues-issues kami during his filmmaking, kaya lang, may konting mga... Kasi, it’s part of it!

"Kasi, alam mo, when you do a film, hindi naman gano’n [kadali], e. This should be intelligent naman, e. Wala namang ano, e... And we helped all the way."

Hindi ba niya akalaing magagawa ito ni Diokno sa Cinemalaya—o sa kanya, personally?

"I just feel sad... Kasi, imagine... Bakit gano’n ang sense of value niya?

"Kasi, alam mo, ako naman, wala akong ine-expect something in return, except that they treat me kindly!

"Just be kind and respect us. Yun lang naman.

"Very basic. Just respect us, that’s it," seryosong pagtatapos ni Robbie Tan.


WE RECOMMEND


FROM THE SUMMIT MEDIA NETWORK


SPONSORED CONTENT


COMMENTS

Loading comments

THIS JUST IN