Bilang executive producer ng pelikulang Transit, kinuha ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) ang reaksiyon ni Paul Soriano sa kontrobersiya sa pagkakapili ng pelikula nila para maging entry sa Oscars.
Makikikumpetensiya ang Transit upang makapasok sa final list ng Best Foreign Language Film category ng 2014 Academy Awards o Oscars.
Ang Film Academy of the Philippines, sa pamamagitan ng isang komiteng pinangunahan ng chairman na si Peque Gallaga, ang pumili sa Transit upang maging kinatawan ng Pilipinas sa Oscars.
Tinalo ng Transit, na idinirek ni Hannah Espia, ang OTJ (On The Job) ni Erik Matti at ang Thy Womb ni Brillante Mendoza.
Umalma ang ilan, partikular na si Direk Erik, sa pagkakapili ng Transit. Ayon sa direktor ng OTJ, may pulitikahan daw na nangyari sa pilian.
Ngunit mariin itong pinabulaanan ni Direk Peque.
Ano ang masasabi ni Paul sa kontrobersiyang nilikha ng pagkakapili ng Transit para sa Oscars?
Sagot ng film director-producer, “Well, for me, honestly, we respect the decision of the people from the Academy—sila Direk Peque, si Mr. Leo [Martinez], di ba?
"I was told we were voted 4-2, unanimous.
"Honestly, na-surprise ako na napili kami.
"Honestly, kasi I thought it was between OTJ and Thy Womb.
"Akala ko sila lang, because, you know, they have films, like, [with] studio backings, big celebrities, di ba?
“So, parang na-resign ko na na OTJ."
Ang Transit ay pinagbibidahan nina Irma Adlawan, Jasmine Curtis Smith, Ping Medina, at ang child actor na si Marc Justine Alvarez.
Una itong ipinalabas sa Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, at humakot ng awards sa New Breed category, kabilang na ang Best Film.
Kuwento pa ni Paul, "And then, one morning, Mr. Leo Martinez called me up, ‘Kayo ang napili, Transit.’ In-explain naman nila, e.
"But, for me talaga, I have nothing against OTJ.
"I think they’re both equally good films, but that’s the Academy’s decision.”
Nakausap ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) si Paul sa opening ng Nuvali Cinema Short Film Competition, na ginanap sa Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, noong October 26.
Ano naman ang reaksiyon niya sa pagtatalo nina Direk Peque at Direk Erik?
Sabi ng nobyo ni Toni Gonzaga, “Actually, Direk Erik and Direk Peque are both friends of mine. I look up to them.
"They’re veteran directors. They’ve paved the way for young directors like me to be able to tell their stories.
"So, I have nothing but respect for the two of them.
"And, whatever it is that they have, I think that’s up to them na lang.
"But me, respeto lang. Direk Peque ‘yan and Direk Erik.”
DEAN DEVLIN. Ano sa tingin niya ang tsansa ng Transit na makapasok sa Oscars?
Tugon ni Paul, “Well, of course, we’re very positive, ‘no.
"The development now is that Dean Devlin, yung Hollywood producer of Independence Day and Godzilla, he picked up the movie.
"He’s representing the movie now in Hollywood.
"So, that was just recently, mga two days ago. So, we’re in good hands.
"We have a Hollywood big-time producer pushing for Transit. I think, first time.”
Kailangan nga raw talagang ikampanya ang isang pelikula para makapasok sa final list of nominees for Best Foreign Language Film sa Oscars.
“Exactly, so what’s happening now is, it’s becoming a little bit easier because Hollywood knows Dean Devlin.
"Dean Devlin can make phone calls and, instantly, pinapansin, di ba?" sabi ni Paul.
In return, ano naman ang makukuha ni Dean Devlin sa Transit?
"He just says, ‘Paul, you don’t have to pay me. You don’t have to do anything.’ Nag-volunteer lang siya.
"Right now, si Dean is helping with the campaign in terms of funding.
"Sabi niya, siya na ang bahala because he believes in the film."
Dagdag pa ni Paul, “But he will be associated with the film.
"He’s on board as executive producer, di ba? Part na siya ng film and whatever earnings.
"But right now, like I said, he’s putting his own money and his name for the movie.
"Kami, siya na. Sabi niya, ’Relax ka lang, Paul.’"
Half-Filipino si Dean Devlin. Ang kanyang ina ay isang Pinay.
WAITING GAME. Bilang direktor, ano sa palagay ni Paul ang bentahe ng Transit upang mapansin ng Oscar voters?
“Well, I think the story is unique. Ibang-iba ang story.
"It’s about our OFWs living in Israel, and these Filipinos speak Hebrew, speak English, speak Tagalog.
"They have children born in Israel who don’t know if they’re Isareli or Filipino.
"And then, there’s a deportation law that deports children.
“I think, first time ko na narinig ‘yan, na may law that deports children.
"Usually, deport kapag criminal ka, kapag nag-rebel.
"Pero eto, children, ano’ng ginawa nila? Innocent, di ba? May law na ganyan.
"So, that’s what the people in the States, the people in the Academy, will capture, na there’s this kind of story pala.
"It’s based on a true story.”
Sa January 2014 pa malalaman kung pasok as one of the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film ang Transit sa Oscars.
Kuwento ni Paul, “I’ll be going to the States next month na, November.
"Well, he [Dean] asked me to come, together with Hannah.
"He wants us to attend some screenings, so that we can also meet the Academy, in Los Angeles.
"We’ll be there probably mga two to three weeks, and then, we are also going to campaign there together with him.
"For me also, as a director, it’s also a chance for me to learn from the big-time Hollywood producers, ‘no.”
Napre-pressure ba siya sa journey ng Transit going to the Oscars?
Sagot ni Paul, “Actuallly, honestly, it’s a blessing talaga.
"I don’t try to pressure myself because, I think, with or without the Oscars, Transit has been so successful already.
"And I think, for me, right now, the focus is on... For me, Transit is more than a film.
"It’s for the country na, e. It’s for the Philippines.
"Kasi it’s the Philippines’ entry to the Oscars, e.
"If the movie wins, it’s for the Philippines.
"It’s not for Transit, e. It’s for Philippine cinema.
"Kasi it’s Best Foreign Film, Transit from the Philippines.
"It’s not Transit produced by Direk Paul or directed by Hannah Espia.
"And I feel talaga na if we get this recognition, it will help Philippine cinema. The Filipinos in general.
"So, that’s for the country.”
TONI GONZAGA. On a personal note, sa dami marahil ng iniisip niya bilang isang producer at direktor, kapansin-pansin ang mga puting buhok ni Direk Paul.
“George Clooney daw sabi ni Toni! White hair, di ba?” natatawang tugon ng direktor nang punahin ng PEP ang kanyang mga puting buhok.
Isa na sa pinakamatagal na relasyon sa showbiz ang kina Paul at Toni.
Sa huling panayam namin kay Toni, sinabi nitong handa na siyang mag-asawa kapag nag-propose sa kanya si Paul.
Sa parte naman kaya ni Paul?
“For me, honestly, in my heart, I’m ready na, e. Siya rin, ready na.
"So, now, what I’m going to do is magpi-pre-production na ako sa planning!” birong-seryoso ni Direk Paul.