Diane Ventura’s triumphant homecoming

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BOY VILLASANTA

BOY VILLASANTA

Film director and former music and events producer Diane Ventura finds pursuing her art in the United States where she now lives fascinating and exciting, albeit far from being a walk in the park.

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While most of her contemporaries and fellow directors here at home are flourishing in the industry, Diane has committed to forging alliances with global film entities. “I want to gather in one movie an international cast and crew to promote multinational talents,” she said.

The approach is a little too daring although not completely new as it has already been done in a number of Fil-Am film productions with a mixed culture staff, such as Artemio Marquez’s Singing Filipina and Lollipops, Roses and Talangka in the ‘70s, which featured Nora Aunor and popular Indian actor at that time Sajid Khan; Gene Cajayon’s The Debut, which starred Fil-Am Hollywood actor Dante Basco Hook, Biker Boyz, etc.;) international co-prod projects like Eddie Romero’s Desire which launched Tetchie Agbayani in an international release with Hollywood actor John Saxon; and Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s Captive with French actress Isabelle Huppert.

She said she also wants to develop a multicultural audience for her films, which she knows isn’t easy.

 US based indie film director Diane Ventura

US based indie film director Diane Ventura

Diane, a veteran of two films The Rapist, a short; and Awaken or Mulat, a full-length feature, is already in pre-production for her second full length film, with the working title Deine Forbe (Your Color). This, according to her, is a socio-political drama with dark comedy undertones which will feature top talents from New York and Germany.

Asked if she plans to try out Hollywood, Diane replied, “I would still prefer to work in the periphery, since she is working with very good artists where she is now.

After producing songs and music videos for of Eraserheads and Pupil with ex-flame Ely Buendia, Diane went to the US, enrolled in a New York film school, waited and eventually found investors to bankroll her projects.

Her visual sense was enhanced by directing music videos as seen in The Rapist, which starred Cherie Gil, and selected for the 2012 International Film Festival in Manhattan (IFFM). The movie made it to the “Most Popular Films and Best Short Film list,” and became an official entry to CineManila and Cinema One Originals in 2014, and Luang Prabang in Cambodia in 2015.

Meanwhile, Awaken was culled from among many entries to the 2015 Metro Manila Film Festival New Wave section, but nonetheless won Diane Best Director for a Global Feature, as well as Best Actor for Jake Cuenca at IFFM. The film was also a recipient of the 7th Ani ng Dangal for Artistic Excellence Award from the NCCA. This year, the movie bagged plums at the World Cinema Festival in Brazil, namely Best Narrative Feature and again, Best Actor for Jake.

While Diane was unable to attend any awarding for Awaken, she had a homecoming on June 17 and personally gave the certificate of recognition to Jake.

Ventura hands Jake Cuenca the Best Actor Award from the World Cinema Festival in Brazil for her movie ‘Mulat’

Ventura hands Jake Cuenca the Best Actor Award from the World Cinema Festival in Brazil for her movie ‘Mulat’

“I like Jake because he can tackle an out-of-the-box role even if he is a popular actor,” the balikbayan director gushed.

Clearly, indies are close to the hearts of Diane and Jake. More than formula fares, which Jake apologetically smirked on, he would also rather take on the indie spirit of which he is more proud.

As a matter of course, he is happy over the decision of the new selection committee of the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival scrapping the New Wave category to merge small-budget productions but artistically done and big studio outputs, which promise box-office certainty provided they are submitted in the can.

“Independent films should also enjoy the support of the festival. I’m all for it,” Jake concluded.

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