For its fine direction, editing, script, acting and heart-warming message, the movie based on the 2016 Palanca Awards for Literature second prize winner for Screenplay, “Deadma Walking,” has been graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB). As such, it is so far the only one among eight entries in the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), which will receive a 100-percent tax rebate.
Penned by Eric Cabahug with the tagline, “Ang pamatay na beshie story,” Deadma Walking is also available on paperback at National Bookstore.
The story revolves around Mark, a gay man who is terminally ill and who fakes his own death to see how his friends will react and what they will say about him.
The synopsis continues, “The casket is closed. When he attends the wake disguised as a woman, nobody recognizes him. He gets what he wants – hear his friends eulogize him and more, much to the relief and amusement of his close gay friend who is in on the charade.”
Edgar Allan “EA” Guzman plays Mark, who said his character in the movie is all-out gay. Joross Gamboa, on the other hand, is his closeted gay friend John.
For those who feel the movie can do with a bit more celebrity draw, how does a cameo from heartthrob Gerald Anderson, and the endorsement of such stars like Piolo Pascual, Iza Calzado, Eugene Domingo and filmmaker Joel Lamangan, who mentored the movie’s director, Julius Alfonso, as his assistant for many years.
In essaying their BFF (best friends forever) gay characters, Guzman and Gamboa had their real-life friendship going for them, so much so they had no difficulty presenting such a relationship onscreen.
As for being gay, Guzman said he learned from his gay brother whom he loves and respects very much.
“Through him, I’ve known how a gay person feels. I know how is it to accept and love a gay person,” he said.
On the other hand, Gamboa said he entirely created a new person inside him, as he had no reference in playing the character. He is straight and though in showbiz, his closest friends are straight too.
Although Deadma Walking’s plot sounds similar the 2016 hit “Die Beautiful” that catapulted Paolo Ballesteros and Christian Bables to unimaginable popularity and recognition, there is an obvious difference between the two. Everything is faked in Deadma Walking—meaning the main character’s passing and wake—while there is a real death in Die Beautiful.
Gamboa said he was unable to see Die Beautiful, which swept Best Picture awards abroad and in the country after showing at in last year’s MMFF.
Gamboa therefore mainted, “I can’t be accused of copying anybody [in Die Beautiful]. Long before the shoot, I would start immersing myself in character… Sometimes I get carried away [to still be in character even after the shoot and in different situations], but I’m glad that at home there’s always my wife who makes me real man again.”
The production further clarified that screenplay writer Cabahug had been working on Deadma Walking since 2014, two years before Die Beautiful had entered the consciousness of the Filipino audience.
The trailer posted on Deadma Walking producer T-Rex Entertainment’s Facebook page has garnered more than 400,000 views as of press time. It is also one of the most shared videos on YouTube.
Meanwhile, in giving the movie a Grade A, CEB stated that Deadma Walking is “brilliantly visualized and combines humor, drama and camp to come up with the right mix, seldom seen in the yearend festival.”
One CEB noted, “The comic timing and musical numbers give the film an engaging energy,” while another admitted to be in stitches while watching the movie.
Furthermore, the government agency stated that despite the theme of dying, the movie actually celebrates life and friendship. “The gay tragicomedy is different fare for the film fest and does not disappoint.” It likewise praised the performances of the entire cast, citing Guzman and Gamboa as “obvious standouts” and Dimples Romana who “puts in a good turn.”
Deadma Walking is produced by Rex Tiri’s T-Rex movie outfit, which is also behind the critically acclaimed films “Esoteika” by Elwood Perez, “Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli” and “Moonlight Over Baler” by Gil Portes, as well as the 2016 QCinema Film Festival Audience Award winner, “Patay Na Si Hesus.”