Danish film Rosita, in which acclaimed actress Mercedes Cabral plays the title role, had its Asian and Philippine premiere at the 12th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival on August 13 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
Cabral, who portrays a Filipina mail-order bride torn between an old man and his son, graced the film’s screening, which is part of Cinemalaya’s Indie Nation section. She is known for her remarkable roles in Brillante Mendoza’s award-winning films Serbis, Kinatay, and Thy Womb before she won her first Best Actress award at the 2015 World Premieres Film Festival for Alvin Yapan’s An Kubo sa Kawayanan.
It was Mendoza who recommended Cabral to Danish filmmaker Frederikke Aspöck when they met at the Marrakech Film Festival in Morocco. Aspöck eventually won Best Director for Rosita at the Moscow International Film Festival last year.
The female director broke into the international film festival scene when she bagged the Premier Prix de la Cinéfondation at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004 for her short film Happy Now. Aspöck’s feature film debut Labrador (Out Of Bounds) also made the rounds of international film festivals and also got favorable nods from critics worldwide.
In Rosita, Cabral stars with internationally recognized Danish actors Jens Albinus, who portrays the middle-aged widower Ulrik, and Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, who plays the role of his son Johannes, along with Julie Agnete Vang, Mads Riisom, Lise Baastrup, and Jacob Moth-Poulsen.
Since the story is set in a small fishing village in the northern tip of Denmark, Cabral and her manager Shandii Bacolod, also an independent filmmaker, stayed for two months in Copenhagen and the fishing town of Hirtshals, where adjustment to the weather became their major problem.
“It was winter when we went there for the shoot. It was snowing hard and we were able to experience how they shoot films in Denmark. They are very professional. They shot for eight hours a day. Sometimes, it would only take them six hours before packing up,” Bacolod recounted.
Rosita, which premiered last year at Copenhagen in Denmark, is Cabral’s third international project after working with celebrated South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook in the vampire thriller and Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize winner Thirst in 2009. She has since starred in the Kuwaiti drama series Saq Al Bamboo (The Bamboo Stalk) and will soon appear in another international production, Tilt by writer and director Samir Arabzadeh of Sweden.