The public will see the one and only Superstar Nora Aunor in her much-anticipated participation in the Metro Manila Film Festival via the family drama Kabisera. The film was originally fielded to the screening committee in 2015 but had failed to make the cut.
This year, the Superstar feel fortunate her latest acting piece will finally be shown.
“Maybe it just wasn’t the right time for Kabisera to show last year, and I even consider it a blessing,” she told members of media at a huddle on Wednesday in Quezon City, without offering an additional explanation for her statement. “But this film is really beautiful so it’s really worthy to be part of the MMFF.”
In fact, the MMFF Screening Committee’s citation in choosing Kabisera (The Seat) as one of the eight finalists this year highly noted: “A sure, steady directorial hand, conscientious script and effective cinematography are matched by the lead actors’ faultless performances [in Kabisera]. This taut and tragic drama will disturb viewers with its stark chronology of what confronts us daily in an often oppressive urban milieu, with the final imagery delivering a subtle footnote to our awareness of the proper place of vaunted justice in our society.”
According to Aunor, the film focuses on the story of a tightly knit family whose lives fall apart after a tragic incident. Mercy, Aunor’s character, takes the central seat (kabisera) to keep her family together.
This central seat on the dining table has been considered symbolically as the seat of power in the home. It is where the “head of the family”—usually the father—enjoys the view of the entire family sharing food and bonding together. Unfortunately, when fate intervenes in a tragic way, this happy gathering may quickly become a thing of the past.
For the family
Honor, trust and loyalty are some of the values that are tested in this MMFF entry as it exposes imperfections that are common in the lives of Filipinos families today. The challenge that needs to be hurdled is how the head of the family can lead the rest to stand up for what is right and truly important in life.
“Some people tell me, Christmas is coming—the children need to be entertained in the movies. But you know, we don’t have a hold on what the screening committee chose,” Aunor simply said when asked to react on the opinion that Kabisera may be too heavy a film for the MMFF.
Film producer RJ Agustin, who is also part of the cast offered his take beside the Superstar and said, “What is the relevance of this film during the Christmas season? Some say Christmas should be for children, but for us, Christmas is for the whole family. The true spirit of Christmas is inside the home, and this film was made with the goal of teaching the families valuable lessons and providing them inspiration even through a heavy drama.”
Made to deliver
With what he believes is a clamor from the movie-going public to see movies that are “more heartfelt and relevant,” the Kabisera team declared this is what they will deliver come Christmas Day.
“People always ask me why I’m an indie filmmaker—why I didn’t go mainstream? Personally, I don’t consider indie as a different industry because making films should not be categorized. I believe indie and mainstream should not be divided. I just want to be clear that as a filmmaker, if you do a mainstream movie, you can make it an indie—that is make a movie that is independently produced but with a target audience in the mainstream,” Kabisera director Real Florido shared.
“This is a story for family, but we used so many elements in making the movie, which wasn’t simple. We were able to finish the film in almost 16 months, which is why it is very fulfilling for us that it will be shown in the MMFF,” he continued.
“I saw the love of the production in making this film, whether we struggled with the weather or sleepless nights. At the end of the day, we’re happy because we were able to push through this film. At the end of it all, we’ve also become a reflection of the message we want to impart to the viewers—that we as a production, we became and we are family.”
Kabisera also stars Ricky Davao, Jason Abalos, JC de Vera, Menggie Cobbarubias, Victor Neri, Ces Quesada, Karl Medina, Perla Bautista, Ronwaldo Martin, Kiko Matos and Alex San Agustin. It is is produced by Firestarters Manila Productions, the same studio behind the award-winning film 1st Ko Si 3rd together with Silver Story Entertainment.