Before today’s big day, the 10th year opening of the highly successful Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, The Manila Times held two separate and interesting interviews with a festival veteran and newbie.
As men of the moment, they both expressed excitement over being part of the seed that turned the indie film genre into a phenomenon, and shared their hopes for their careers post Cinemalaya X.
Meet Arnold Reyes and Enzo Pineda.
Arnold Reyes: 10th time lucky
Sought after independent actor Arnold Reyes has 10 Cinemalaya film entries to his name—one for every year of what is now considered a major event in the Philippine movie industry.
Looking back at the early days of the festival, Arnold laughingly remembered, “Yung awards night ng Cinemalaya dati, very casual lang. Maliit na venue tapos lahat kami darating naka-maong lang. Ngayon may red carpet na!”
As he plays one of the leads in Jay Altarejos’ entry Kasal this year, which tackles the story of a gay couple, he cannot help but notice the major developments the festival has experienced in the last decade.
Besides a flashier awards night, he is very much aware of the fact that more and more mainstream actors have taken an interest in becoming part of what the Cultural Center of the Philippines had originally established for the purpose of discovering a new breed of filmmakers and actors.
“Ang laki talaga ng pagkakaiba,” he reiterated. “Noon konti lang ang actors na nag-pa-participate—less than a handful from the mainstream—but understandably, dahil sa success ng festival, pumipila pa sila for auditions ngayon.”
Arnold—who began acting on stage at a very young age via many of country’s theater companies—admitted that while he is fortunate that indie filmmakers now call him to be part of their movies, having famous showbiz names eager for the same roles is a little bit disconcerting.
“Hindi ko naman ikakaila yon,” he honestly declared. “Pero siyempre, naiintindihan ko din naman na kailangan sa pelikula ang malaking pangalan lalo na kung ipapalabas later sa commercial screening. Pero sana lang—sa Cinemalaya at sa mga indie filmmakers—ang alalahanin at tingnan nila ay yung kayang ibigay ng artista para sa characters ng pelikula nila at hindi lang yung ingay ng pangalan.”
He considers himself very fortunate that he has been cast in a Cinemalaya entry for 10 years running, as well as for winning a Best Supporting Actor Award in 2009 for Astig (GB Sampedro).
“Masuwerte pa rin po ako na may tatawag sa akin na maging parte ng pelikula nila kahit na pabonggahan na ngayon ang cast ng mga entries,” he added.
Arnold is very excited for the premiere of Kasal where he learned to do “found scenes” in his role as Sherwin, a closeted gay whose family is unaware that his “business partner” Paolo is actually his lover.
Former teen actor and singer Mhycho Aquino essays the role of Paolo, a film director, whose family completely accepts his relationship with Sherwin, as well as his wish to marry.
“Siyempre, maraming conflicts sa istorya—kung bakit hindi ko maipakilala kung sino talaga si Paolo sa pamilya ko—and dito ko natutunan kay Direk [Jay] yung ‘found scenes,’ kung saan walang script tapos hahayaan niya kayong i-express yung galit n’yo sa isa’t-isa on your own. Nakakagulat kung ano ang lumalabas. From what we saw to how physical we became,” he enthused.
While many would like to talk about daring scenes between Sherwin and Paolo, Arnold told The Manila Times that he never bases his decisions on doing gay roles on the possible controversy the risqué parts may bring.
“This is my third gay role to date,” he counted off. “The first was in Imoral then Muli [both by Adolf Alix]. In all these three films, I base my decision on doing a gay role on the script, director and my ‘partner.’ Kasi ayokong gumawa ng gay film just for the sake of it, o para lang maging kontrobersyal. Ang basis ko ay kung maipapakita talaga ng pelikula ang totoong mga istorya ng gays sa society natin dahil mga tao din sila na dapat bigyan ng importansya.”
Asked where he hopes his career will after his 10th Cinemalaya entry, especially since there is a lot of talk he might just bag the Best Actor award this year, the Backroom Inc. artist simply replied, “Dati affected ako kung bakit after a successful indie film, wala akong teleserye or papatayin agad yung character ko kung meron man.
“Pero ngayon, I just feel fortunate that as an indie actor today, everything has gotten better. From recognition and even talent fees. Kaya kung anong dumating sa akin bilang artista, masaya na ako doon,” he ended.
Enzo Pineda: ‘I just had to go for it!’
He just had to go for it.
This was 23-year-old GMA Network actor’s reply to The Manila Times when asked why he auditioned to be part of a Cinemalaya entry this year. Easily cast in teleseryes in his home network (Dormitoryo, Kakambal ni Eliana), Enzo explained that he needs to take this turn in his career and join an independent film festival as Cinemalaya so he can gain credibility as an actor.
Dubbed as a “rich kid” in showbiz circles, what with Eric Pineda [boxing champ Manny Pacquiao’s business manager]as his father, the good looking winner of reality talent search Starstruck V is aware that his detractors like to believe that he simply joined the industry for the fun of it.
“I know naman na may usapan na hindi ko kailangan mag-showbiz but I want to prove that I deserve to be where I am and I am good at what I’ve decided to do,” he explained.
Without mincing words, Enzo even verbalized his wish to win an award for his role in Sundalong Kanin, a movie about four friends exposed to the realities of war as they aspire to become soldiers during the Japanese Occupation. An entry in the New Breed Category, the movie is directed by Janice O’Hara and Denise O’Hara.
“They come from the famous O’Haras of filmmaking, and I’m very fortunate to have worked with them,” related Enzo. “Ang dami kong natutunan sa kanila, and I hope with this role, I can show everyone that I am a serious actor, and that I can play meatier roles in the future.”
The young actor, who lined up for two hours to audition for the Cinemalaya described the experience as “very humbling yet fulfilling.” Proud to have been chosen for a major support role in the movie, he is also happy that fellow talents from his management GMA Artists Center were cast in other movies in festival. They are Rocco Nacino, Elmo Magalona, Chynna Ortaleza, Jeric Gonzales, Barbie Forteza, Kenneth Paul Cruz, Julian Trono, Martin del Rosario, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, LJ Reyes, Miggs Cuaderno, Jak Roberto, Rita de Guzman, Collen Borgonia and Ken Chan.