DING DONG DANTES is back where he started—albeit dancing to a different tune.
The multi-awarded actor who was first discovered in 1991 when he joined the all-male group Abztract Dancers is on his feet again for the highly anticipated action-drama movie, Dance of the Steel Bars, inspired by the famed Cebu Dancing Inmates.
A co-production of GMA Films and Dubai-based Portfolio Films, the movie was entirely shot at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center where the world news-making “Thriller” dance routine continues to draw tourists. Moreover, Dance of the Steel Bars took three long years to complete, which, according to The Manila Times’ sources at the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) is worth the wait.
“Yes, the movie was given an A-rating by the CEB,” happily confirmed Ding Dong at a press conference on Wednesday. He plays the role of convicted murderer Mando in the movie, who denies his passion for dancing just to prove his masculinity inside the harsh penitentiary.
“I don’t exactly know the specific reasons why the movie has taken this long to show, but what I know for sure is that nakaganda siya para sa pelikula.”
According to Ding Dong, the producers were putting together two versions of the film for Philippine and global release, but was told that with the latest edit, what will hit cinemas here on June 12 will also make the international release.
With two consecutive Best Actor awards in the 2011 and 2012 Metro Manila Film Festivals (Segunda Mano and One More Try), expectations over Ding Dong’s performance in his latest big screen starrer is sky high. Handpicked for the role, he shares equal billing with Hollywood actor Patrick Bergin (Sleeping with the Enemy, Patriot Games, Robin Hood), who in turn plays Frank Parish, a retired US fireman and philanthropist who is wrongly accused of murder while living in Cebu.
Frank, who begins to lose faith in everything he believes in, finds a friend in Mando, and later, in a transsexual inmate named Allona (Joey Paras), who tries to contribute to prison reforms through dance.
“Nung kinuha po ako sa pelikula the co-producers had already signed on Partick Bergin, and I really learned so much from him in terms of discipline and how movies are done in Hollywood.”
According to The Manila Times’ source at the Cinema Evaluation Board, Ding Dong ably held his own throughout the production, and was truly a master of moves.
But more than showcasing his acting and dancing abilities, what Ding Dong hopes the movie will impart is a sense of hope among its viewers—that everyone can change even in the most difficult of situations.
“Talagan na-immerse po ako sa buhay ng mga preso nung nag-shooting kami doon sa Cebu,” the actor, who is also known to take on meaningful advocacies recalled. “Kaya medyo true-to-life talaga ang mga munting kuwento ng iba’t ibang tao na pumasok sa pelikula, at lalo na kung paano sila naging disiplinado at nag-bago dahil sa pag-sayaw.”
He believes that the movie will impart many lessons to its audiences, be they young or old—the first of which is how the arts is a valuable tool in healing, and secondly, how inspiration can come from the places and persons least expected.
“Lahat ng tao, puwedeng magbago, kahit na sa pinakamaliit na selda,” he waxed poetic.
Meanwhile, the movie’s producers are hoping that Dance of the Steel Bars will make it to several international film festivals in Melbourne, Vancouver and Venice to name a few.
“I hope that the movie will something that will mark the start of something great, and I’m so proud and grateful to be part of it,” Ding Dong ended.