Archive for Philippine Film

Philippine Film: Vote Raffy Francisco To Represent Philippines At HPspace.com

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2009 by JJ Duque

Raffy Francisco is well-known in and around the Philippines as a director and film-maker. He is one of hte most sought after directors for music videos, and has done some wonderful work for the likes of Gary Valenciano, Lani Misalucha, Vina Morales, Sarah Geronimo, Gretchen Barreto, True Faith and Toni Gonzaga to name a few. In fact, Raffy Francisco has also won at the MTV Philippines Music Video Awards. He’s also directed several commercial ads, and has even acted in a full-length film called Tulad Ng Dati, which was praised as the Best Picture in the Cinemalaya.

Raffy Francisco also runs a podcast called Topdogs Manila, and when he goes on vacation he wake-skates, and is pretty awesome at it.

Raffy Francisco and Joey Mead: Stills From The Audition Video

Raffy Francisco and Joey Mead: Stills From The Audition Video

At present, Raffy Francisco is auditioning for a contest at HPspace.com. He entered an audition video – a pretty trippy one at that – that just really goes to show his creative talents. If Raffy Francisco‘s video gets enough votes, then he could be chosen by hpspace.com to win $50,000 and a chance to work on a blockbuster film in Australia. Several auditon videos are available from everyone all over the world, but you’ll really have to see the audition video of Raffy Francisco for yourself and just see how amazingly his video just rocks compared to the other audition videos. Of course, don’t only watch it, but please do share your comments and vote for it.

After all, a film-maker like Raffy Francisco will certainly be an appropriate representative for the Philippines to win this contest by HPspace.com.

Watch and vote for  Raffy Francisco’s audition video here.

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Philippine Film: Dinig Sana Kita Review

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Film with tags , , , , , on August 31, 2009 by JJ Duque

I got to catch the 3pm screening of  Dinig Sana Kita (If I Knew What You Said) on Monday August 31st at the Robinson’s Galeria, and when I stepped out of the theater still a bit misty-eyed at the story, I caught Mike Sandejas (Writer, Director and Producer) just at the foot of the escalator. I went up to him immediately, and told  him outright, “I’m so touched. Surprisingly, I’m touched.”

Now, Mike Sandejas and I are no strangers, and are very close, considering that (1) we’re groupmates and batchmates in Upsilon Sigma Phi; and (2) we both have a passion for film-making. And while we both may not see eye-to-eye in our creative pursuits of film (of course everyone has their own stories to tell and a different way of telling it), I couldn’t help but feel that he did well with this movie. He was ambitious, and he made it happen. And I was touched, and still am touched! I didn’t have that many nice things to say about his first movie, but Dinig Sana Kita, – I only have positive superlatives.

The basic story-line is about Kiko (played by Romalito Mallari), who is a hearing-impaired boy that loves to dance and teaches sign language to deaf children; and about Nina (played by Zoe Sandejas), who is a rocker girl that feels a disconnection from her parents, and cosnistently gets herself into trouble.

Facing expulsion from school, Nina is then required to attend a camp in Baguio where hearing and hearing-impaired kids interact in various developmental activities. There Nina meets Kiko, and the rest is the story of how their relationship grows, the dramas that ensue, and the love that transcends despite their obvious difference of communication.

Is it a love story? Well, it has that angle, but it isn’t a cheesy romance flick with all the pitfalls of your standard showbiz love team make-up. In fact, it lacks a kissing scene, but I’m pretty sure direk Mike Sandejas may have had some difficulty incorporating that into the script, considering Zoe is his daughter.

What’s really remarkable about the film is the manner in which Mike Sandjas tackles the world of the hearing-impaired. In fact, Dinig Sana Kita is the first movie to ever make use of a deaf person in a lead role.

Romalito Mallari engages the part of the deaf boy and really rocks it. Of course, it helps that he is also hearing-impaired, but even then, his expressive ways of communicating – the funny, the dramatic, the angry – all come alive through his sign language and his very expressive eyes.

Equally impressive is the angsty performance of Zoe Sandejas, which is quite a shocker for me, who has seen her grown up to become the young lady she is. (I’ve known here since birth.) Her teen angst is not the typical screaming brat of Philippine cinema, who usually breaks off into an uber-melodramatic spiel that goes something like, “AYOKO NA SA IYO! DI MO AKO NAINTINDIHAN!” Actually, Zoe does well in subduing the emotions of her character, and the depth of her own silence comes across much stronger than the hysterical teens Philippine showbiz has gotten us used to.

Romalito Mallari and Zoe Sandejas in Dinig Sana Kita

Romalito Mallari and Zoe Sandejas in Dinig Sana Kita (If I Knew What You Said)

It’s the careful treatment between the sensitivity of these characters that Mike Sandejas brings out so well. It leaves a lot for the audience to understand all that is not being said, and it does so  in a movie where deafness and silence is the theme. That kinda puts the bow on the ribbon in capturing the true element.

In fact, a lot of praise has to go into the handling of the hearing-impaired dialogues and quirks, and the look into the world of the hearing-impaired from a different angle, from a different perspective. I was expecting it to be a bit preachy, and maybe come out that the hearing-impaired will certainly be misunderstood, but I was surpirsed that it didn’t. The story flowed naturally, and it was up to you to really try to catch up with what was going on – even at parts when there weren’t subtitles – because you were taking in Nina’s POV, and if she couldn’t understand it, then neither could you. That was nice treatment that way.

Then, there’s the part where Nina suffers a near deafness, or an aching in her ear that has a distorted sound. The audience is made to feel her deafness, or the little of what she could hear. Of course, not that the style hasn’t been done before, but it’s just masterful how all of that are woven well together in the story.

Anyway, as I write this, there will be one day of screening left in the Robinson’s Galeria with showings at 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm and 9pm. After that, there is still no word on where else it will show around Manila. Maybe the next chance to catch Dinig Sana Kita, will be at Brussels or Toronto and whatever other film festivals it’s been entered in. There are a couple of them, and Mike Sandejas is just happy that his movie will have the opportunity to be seen in other venues. Whether it wins or not, well… Of course, it’ll be great to win.

Incidentally, Dinig Sana Kita won the People’s Choice Awards in the recent Cinemalaya 2009. I didn’t get to watch the other films, so I can’t give a comparison about who really deserved what award, but despite the awards and accolades, I sincerely believe that Dinig Sana Kita is a movie that is well put together.

I think the fact that Mike Sandejas involved close friends and family – Zoe Sandejas (his daughter) in the lead role; Nina Sandejas (his sister) and Francisbrew Reyes (his future brother-in-law) wrote the wonderful music; May Genato-Sandejas (his wife)  is the line producer;  – and then the rest – well it gives the movie and the production a healthy kind of wholeness. When you have that kind of cooperation with loved ones who share your passion, it certainly makes it easy to put things in their place.

Great movie, Mike! Great performance Zoe! Great job, Rome!

PS – I love the club scene with DJ Roberto “Danger” Sanchez behind the deejay booth. Although the sound is not his regular house signature, it’s nice to find him in the movie looking cool as always.

Philippine Film: Sid Lucero Hoping To Win Best Actor Award For Role in Selda at 32nd Montreal World Film Festival

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Film, Philippine News with tags , , , , , , , on August 31, 2008 by JJ Duque
Selda Movie Poster

Selda Movie Poster

Sid Lucero (Timmy Eigenmann in real life) just recently got accolades from several international film festivals who were very impressed with his acting in the movie Selda. In Selda, Sid Lucero plays an inmate who goes through hell while serving his sentence in a jail cell. In Filipino, an inmate is referred to as selda, and thus the title.

The organizers of the 32nd Montreal World Film Festival has personally requested for Sid Lucero to attend the festival, which is currently ongoing until September 1. It is the first time in the 32 years of the Montreal World Film Festival that a Philippine film has made it to the competition section of the Festival des Films du Montreal, which is considered one of Canada’s oldest and more prestigious film festivals.

Selda will be competing for these awards in the Montreal World Film Festival: Grand Prix of the Americas (Best Film), Special Grand Prix of the Jury, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Artistic Contribution and the special Innovation Award.

The Montreal World Film Festival will showcase 200+ feature films from all over the world, including 105 world premieres. On Golden Pond director Mark Rydell will be heading the jury, which also includes the likes of directors Xie Fei and Vojtech Jasny, novelist Dany Leferriere and actress Evelyn Bouix.

In 2005, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros by Auraeus Slito won the Golden Zenith award in the first films competition in the Montreal World Film Festival, but the film never made it to the main competition, which is why it is such a feat for Selda, and for Sid Lucero, who is said to be shortlisted in the best actor category.

Emilio Garcia (L) and Sid Lucero (R) in a scene from Selda

Emilio Garcia (L) and Sid Lucero (R) in a scene from Selda

Back in the Philippines, Sid Lucero has already won a Gawad Tanglaw Best Actor award for his role in Selda, including a Cinema One Original Award for Best Actor for his role in Tambolista. Sid Lucero has also been nominated several times for Best Actor for his role in Selda by the likes of the PMPC Star Awards, the Golden Screen Awards and the URIAN awards.

Selda is directed by Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos.

Philippine Film Review: 100

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Film, Philippine News with tags , , , , , , , on August 9, 2008 by JJ Duque

100, written and directed by Chris Martinez, was the only movie that I got to watch during the Cinemalya 2008 film festival. I watched primarily because my best friend Ryan Eigenmann and good friends Mylene Dizon and TJ Trinidad were in the movie. I attended the gala night of 100, which was shown at the CCP Main Theater. First, I bought a P100 ticket since Ryan EIgenmann was running late, and managed getting a seat at the bleachers. When Ryan arrived and called me, I met him at the lobby, and we transferred to the reserved seats they had for him.

I had only seen a bit of the beginning sequence, and skipped about 5 minutes before resuming the movie, which was the scene where Mylene is finishing up her last day of work. Anyway, of course, we finished the movie.

To quote 100’s film synopsis from what I guess would be the PR pack, it says: “100 chronicles the last 3 months of a cancer-stricken woman who has a list of things to do before she dies. 100 stars Mylene Dizon, Eugene Domingo, Tessie Tomas, Simon Ibarra, Ryan Eigenmann and TJ Trinidad.”

Writer/Director Chris Martinez, sums it up as: “100 is a celebration of the senses and what life has to offer.”

Now, throughout the movie, we see Mylene Dizon‘s character putting up some post-its on her dresser as a list of things to do before she dies – dealing with the closure of her life, settling things, and living a fulfilled life to do all the things she’s ever wanted. At first, the post-it strategy in the movie works well, but then it does get tiresome. There are post-its that say Kare-Kare, Crispy Pata, Ben & Jerry’s, Haagen Dasz, Leche Flan and we see Mylene go through a seemingly lengthy scene chowing away at these foods in the most gluttonous manner. Well, the scenes were entertaining. It was enjoyable watching Mylene pig-out! But then, the scene cuts back to the post-its of these food items and are peeled away from the dresser one by one, signifying its accomplishment. Itemizing the food gets rather tiresome. It could’ve been improved to be put on one post-it that says: “EAT MY FAVORITE FOOD!”

In another scene where Mylene’s character was turning over all office documents and having her former secretary prepare a list of stuff for her funeral (iPod, pictures, labels, whom to call, casket), it’s seems odd that there has to be a specific post-it for stuff like casket, iPod, etc. Once again, all of that could’ve been summed up in one post-it, saying something like “FINALIZE FUNERAL PREPARATIONS”

The title of 100 is vague to begin with, and somehow it makes you enter the movie with the suggestion of Frank Miller’s 300 in the back of your head. But though the course of the movie you get to see that 100 means a list of 100 things to do before death. But like I said earlier, the tool of using the post-it was used throughout the movie so many times. After each accomplishment or task, we revert back to the post-it and see it taken down and then look again to a new post-it with a new task to announce the upcoming scene of the movie. It works well at first, but then it becomes a chapterizing of sequences, which doesn’t leave much to the audience imagination, such as “sunset at the beach, skinny-dipping” – things like that. There’s even a post-it that sayas “Picture with Brad Pitt” and the accomplishment of the task was a photograph taken with Brad Pitt’s true-to-life wax model at some wax museum in Hong Kong. A bit witty, but in a list of 100 things to do before death, would a picture with a wax model really be a defining moment, or same with the picture with Mickey Mouse or a trip to the HK night market? or ride a cable car? The entire 20 or so things to do in Hong Kong could’ve been summarized in one post-it: “HONG KONG TRIP WITH MY BEST FRIEND” – without having to rub it into the audience’s faces that picture with Brad Pitt actually had its own post-it.

At the end of the movie, I’m left to thinking the title could’ve been 100 POST-ITS. Or at best 100 could’ve been reduced to 15 had the words been carefully chosen and probably given some good metaphor and poetry into them.

I also have a knack of finding mistakes on certain scenes, and Ryan’s girlfriend Cathy Bordalba and myself noticed that during a conversation between Ryan’s character and Mylene’s character during a rainy night inside her CRV, there was rain on the driver’s side, but it didn’t quite reach the passenger side as Ryan was exiting. Fake rain, and it wasn’t even enough to cover the car. So, on one part of the frame, you see heavy rain, and on one side there weren’t even raindrops pattering on the sidewalk. The editor, at least, should’ve noticed.

Well, I didn’t get to see the other movies that were featured in the 2008 Cinemalaya, and I was being urged by several film-goers to watch Jay. Unfortunately, I never found the time. I heard that it was “THE best movie” by far among the 10 finalists of Cinemalya 2008. I really didn’t give myself the opportunity to find out.

Nevertheless, the awards were released at the end of the Cinemalaya Film Festival, and the breakdown of the awards for the 2008 Cinemalaya goes something like: Best Full-Length Feature – Jay by Francis Xavier Pasion, Best Actor Baron Geisler for Jay, Best Editing Kate Serraon, Chuck Gutierrez and Francis Pasion for Jay, Special Jury Prize Brutus by Tara Illenberger, Best Supporting Actor Yul Servo for Brutus, Best Original Score Joey Ayala for Brutus, Best Cinematography was tied between Jay Abello for Brutus and Dan Villegas for Huling Pasada, Best Sound Toto Sorioso and Lito Cruz for Ranchero, Best Production Design Cristina Honrado for Baby Angelo.

100 of Chris Martinez won 5 awards: Best Direction and Best Screenplay Chris Martinez, Best Actress Mylene Dizon, Best Supporting Actress Eugene Domingo and the Audience Choice Award.

Despite my earlier complaints, I still do feel that 100 was a good movie. The characters were played really well. Wala akong masabi: MAGALING SI MYLENE DIZON! And it was amazing that they had shot at some awesome locations, such as the Lady of Manaoag Church and Quiapo Church. Interesting sceneries there, and the showcasing of how the FIlipino culture (at least, in our Lady of Manaoag Church and Quiapo) have all sorts of “cures” for the hopeless and despaired.

It was also quite interesting going through the motions of the lengths people go through in order to try and battle their sicknesses – to try everything from general medicine practice to other methods like herbal treatments, pilgrimages to churches, faith healers and what-have-you to preserve life.

Of course, the themes and scenes on the living of life, the light moments, the laughter, the tears – it was a moving movie (i’ve always wanted to use that play on words). A particular scene that leaves a lasting impression is the skinny-dipping scene of the film’s four ladies, which include the character of Mylene Dizon, Eugene Domingo, Tessie Tomas and the butch who played Tessie Tomas’ driver!!! That was probably why it won the Audience Choice Award.

That, and the marijuana scene at some place where Mylene comes out of a hot-boxed smoke-filled room. Well, naturally, a pothead like me would remember.

Of course, I also enjoyed Ryan Eigenmann’s character – and without being biased since he’s my good friend – he really did well. At first, I was under the impression that he was playing a gay role, but then he turned out being a … Well, I shouldn’t give it out in case you haven’t seen it. Everything else, but that. But yeah – he did well. I remember telling him in the middle of the movie, “Kapal ng mukha mo!” but only in jest. Ryan Eigenmann did well.

I also enjoyed Timmy Eigenmann‘s (or Sid Lucero’s) cameo. I don’t mind coming out in movies and having cameos like that.

Anyway – please do share information on the Philippines Fun Wall if there will be future screenings of 100 and the other film finalists of Cinemalaya 2008, especially Jay and Brutus.