Director Jade Castro feels proud and fulfilled to have done Juana C. The Movie, the sexy-political film that stars activist Mae Paner a.k.a. Juana Change.
At the red-carpet screening last May 28, at SM Megamall Cinema 8, Jade told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that directing the advocacy film was not an easy project considering the socio-political issues it bluntly confronts.
Juana C. The Movie is a big screen project that takes off from the satirical video commentaries featuring the bawdy Juana Change (played by Mae) who shifts characters depending on the issue being tackled.
The videos have gone viral since the Juana Change movement began in 2008. The said advocacy is backed by the Artists’ Revolution, an organization of Filipino artists that push for change in Philippine politics.
Apart from Mae, the group’s founders include writers Raymond Lee and Rody Vera, respectively the producer and writer of Juana C. The Movie.
A script already existed when Jade came into the project.
“Pero from then on, nabago pa siya nang medyo malaki,” told the filmmaker who added that the movie is a collective effort of the actors and the production team.
“Even habang nagsu-shooting kami, nag-i-input ang actors, tapos nag-i-improvise kami.”
In fact, one cannot really say how much effort one contributed more than the other.
“Hindi ko masabi, hindi rin magandang paghati-hatiin…
“So, parang masasabi ko lang na andun ako. Hindi ko alam kung ilang percent or what.”
CHALLENGE. As in the Juana Change videos, the big screen version boldly attacked the graft and corruption in politics, the poor education system, and even illegal mining.
Jade said that tackling such weighty issues in the script was award-winning writer Rody’s expertise.
“He’s been writing the Juana Change viral videos from the start with Mae. Medyo sanay na sila.”
On the one hand, the challenge for Jade was specifically to “balance the tone” of the film.
He explained, “Kasi, obviously, political siya, maraming issue nga pero comedy rin, sexy-comedy siya.
“Gusto naming medyo wild, pero gusto namin mapalabas sa sine. And iba-iba yung energy ng mga people involved.
“So, yung pag-balance nung buong thing para maging buo siya, as a director, for me, yun ang pinaka-challenging.
“And I guess, kaya ko rin tinanggap yung project,” Jade said.
He added, “Alam kong hindi ko pa siya nagagawa tapos alam kong medyo wala siyang katulad sa mga ipinapalabas ngayon, kaya na-excite ako dun sa project.”
ALL FILMS ARE POLITICAL. Is Juana C. The Movie by far the most political film Jade has done?
The director said, “I think lahat naman ng pelikula ay political.”
He considers his first independent film Endo “very political.”
“Hindi mo maiiwasan. In fact, in My Kontrabida Girl , may mga review na lumabas na sinasabi Marxist daw yung film. Alam mo yun?
“Lahat naman ng pelikula may political angle.”
Juana C. The Movie, however, stands out among his works in the sense that the advocacy is not wrapped up in a romantic-comedy flick.
The filmmaker pointed out, “Since Juana Change siya, alam na kaagad ng mga tao na meron itong tinutumbok na issues.
“So, I think, yun ang pinakamalaking pagkakaiba niya, in terms of political content, ’no?”
It is noticeable, meanwhile, that his films have one thing in common and this Jade admits— his signature humor.
MY LADY BOSS. Jade’s other film, the romantic-comedy My Lady Boss, has yet to be released in cinemas.
Originally, the Marian Rivera-Richard Gutierrez starrer was slated to open in theaters last April 10, less than two weeks after the Star Cinema blockbuster It Takes A Man and A Woman was shown.
It was assumed by most that GMA Films and Regal Films, co-producers of My Lady Boss, postponed the April 10 playdate to July 3 because it cannot compete with the third and final installment of the John Lloyd Cruz-Sarah Geronimo movie.
Asked what his sentiments are regarding the matter, Jade stated, “Sinusuportahan ko yun at tinatanggap ko yun.
"Ultimate decision yun ng GMA at Regal Films, who are co-producers nung movie. May mga valid reasons sila.
“Ako naman, ang trabaho ko lang talaga is pagandahin yung movie at makapag-deliver ako.
“Pero in terms of distribution, hindi ako expert dun.
“Sila, expert sila dun. Nasa kanila yung decision.”
Is there something lacking in the quality of the film that it cannot compete with the mentioned Star Cinema flick?
None, Jade said. “We’re happy with the film. In fact, tapos na siya.
“Actually, ang dahilan is booking. Naghahanap sila ng mas magandang playdate.
“Alam mo, merong totoong reason at saka merong PR reason,” Jade hesitantly told, chuckling at the same time.
“Yung John Lloyd-Sarah, di ba? I think yun yung iniisip ng marami. Maliit na factor lang yun.
“Ang announcement ng GMA is dahil ayaw nila sumabay sa soap ni Richard kaya dinelay [delay] nila.
“Yun yung isang factor din. May iba pang factors.
“I promised them I won’t talk about it. Pero kung ako tatanungin, hindi naman malaking issue.
“Parang it’s very sensible, e. Kaya hindi ako nagrereklamo na umurong siya, e.”
Prodded to shed light on the postponement of the movie due to Richard’s "other project," Jade said the producers thought that the public might “confuse” the Kapuso actor’s current soap, Love and Lies, with My Lady Boss.
“To them, parang confusing daw na dalawang Richard project magkasabay.
“Parang ’kala ng mga tao TV show yung My Lady Boss, ganun yata.
“Gusto nilang paghiwalayin yung promotions para yata mas klaro.
“That reason, again, is valid. Pero yung move na iurong siya sa kahit anong date nila gusto, sinusuportahan ko yun.”