As the nation basks in fear of ghouls and sinister entities that most Filipinos have associated All Souls Day with, Cinema One Originals—the annual independent film festival held every November—chooses to go against the current and assert bravery.
Now on its 13th year, the festival has chosen to go with the tagline “Walang Takot,” or “Fearless.” But the description is more than just a play on the season of horror, as Cinema One owns up to its trademark.
“Cinema One Originals has been known to showcase films na walang takot, kahit experimental ipalalabas namin that’s why we chose to have walang takot as our tagline,” Cinema One festival director Ronald Arguelles explained during the festival’s press conference.
More profoundly, it turns out walang takot also applies to this year’s lineup of actors and actresses whom the audience may best remember for their mainstream works in television or the big screen.
As Rafa Siguion-Reyna explained, “I think it is important for actors to take roles that are different from the ones we do in mainstream movies or shows. I speak for myself—that’s what appeals to me.”
“Indie film is not as commercial and we don’t have the fear that we will be censored so I can showcase a different side of my acting,” Siguion-Reyna, who is a familiar face in GMA Network’s primetime and afternoon dramas, added.
Artists who take the independent route—which has been often identified as moviemaking with lesser budget—also show fearlessness for they know that their perks in big-budget movies, particularly the talent fee, are not always available in indie films.
“If you like the material, like what you are doing, and if you believe in the project, then you do it. I think as actors, it’s regardless of the pay, or the number of shooting days. As long as it fits within your schedule and maganda ang usapan ninyo ng director mo, you do it,” Paolo Paraiso, who has been playing supporting roles in numerous blockbuster films such as “So Happy Together,” “Don’t Give Up on Us” and “My Best Friend’s Girlfriend,” as well as TV series in the country’s major networks, shared.
“We are in the filmmaking business, walang distinction—mainstream or indie, it’s a film,” the actor noted.
Slyvia Sanchez, who has been in the industry for almost three decades, and lately stole hearts as Gloria in the hit drama show, “Greatest Love,” seconded Paraiso, “Yung budget, honestly hindi na ako dun. Ilang years ako na nasa TV lang. So ako, nung in-offer sa akin to, at nakita ko na yung script ay maganda, hindi na ako nagdalawang-isip pa.”
“Artista ako at alam ko na handa ako sa kung anumang ibibigay sa akin na role. Gusto ko sa indie, gusto ko sa mainstream. Gusto ko matandaan ako ng tao na si Sylvia, kahit saan ibato, pwede,” Sanchez further noted.
“I think they are looking at the stories more than kung indie yung work or project [or]kung small yung pay or bigger. They are professional actors doing good and challenging films for them,” Arguelles commended.
Two docus, seven films
Siguion-Reyna stars in Richard Somes’ “Historiographika Errata.” Now on his fourth outing in the festival, Somes creates an elaborate historical mosaic that attempts to figure out why we are what we are, throwing in the mix a suicidal Rizal, a cross-dressing Bonifacio and the widow who became the first Makapili. The film also stars Joem Bascon, Alex Medina, Maxine Eigenmann and Nathalie Hart.
Paraiso, meanwhile, co-stars with veteran actress Dexter Doria in Giancarlo Abrahan’s “Paki.” Her very first lead role, Doria plays a woman in her golden years whose children try to stop her from leaving her husband of 60 years and live the rest of her days out as an old maid.
Sanchez is the lead of Kip Oebanda’s “Nay.” An aswang inversion, the movie is about a man suffering from a terminal disease who uncovers a dark family secret. Enchong Dee and Jameson Blake join the cast.
Besides these three films, there are four other full-length narratives and two documentaries joining the festival.
“Nervous Translation,” about a shy girl (Jana Agoncillo) who discovers a pen that can translate the thoughts and feelings of people when they get nervous is written and directed by Shireen Seno.
For his first outing with Cinema One, “Walang Forever” director Dan Villegas adapts Vincent de Jesus’ much-loved stage musical “Changing Partners,” a bittersweet exploration of relationships told in perspectives of various genders, starring Agot Isidro, Anna Luna, Jojit Lorenzo and Sandino Martin.
Then there’s Fatrick Tabada and Rae Red’s “Si Chedeng At Si Apple,” a dark comedy where Elizabeth Oropesa and Gloria Diaz play two old girl friends who become accidental criminals and Joseph Teoxon’s time-jumping “Throwback Today,” in which Carlo Aquino plays a disgruntled young man who stumbles on an impossible way to rewrite his own history.
Finally, the two documentaries are both examinations of a past with uncanny present-day resonances: Dempster Samarista’s “Bundok Banahaw, Sacred and Profane” is an exploration of the titular mystical mountain, while Phyllis Grande’s “Haunted: A Visit to the Red House” focuses on the atrocities visited by Japanese soldiers on comfort women during World War 2.
The 13th Cinema One Originals runs from November 13 to 21 at Trinoma, Glorietta, Gateway, UP Cine Adarna, Cinema 76 and Cinematheque with an extended run from November 22 to 28 at the Power Plant Mall.