One of the most prominent figures in Philippine cinema, Sharon Cuneta has made over 60 movies in her almost four-decade career. At the height of her stardom, the original multi-slashie—who cut records, hosted TV shows and acted in blockbusters—would make three to four movies a year throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and was often crowned “Box Office Queen.”
By the turn of the century, however, Cuneta decided to devote her time to her then young family with second husband and now Senator Francis Pangilinan, slowing down first of all as a movie actress. The last few titles to her credit were Walang Kapalit,Kung Ako na Lang Sana and “Crying Ladies,” all shown in 2003; and finally “Mano Po 6: A Mother’s Love” in 2009.
Now 51 years old, the Megastar—who revived her television career in 2016 after taking a complete hiatus from show business in 2013—is likewise returning to the big screen via independent cinema. On Thursday, she attended the launch of the 13th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, proudly representing director Mes de Guzman’s entry, Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha (The Family that Doesn’t Weep).
There can be no doubt that Cuneta had been sorely missed on the big screen for the announcement of her movie as a finalist of the Full Length Category received the most deafening applause among the collection of titles. Her fans—the Sharonians—in fact were in full force at the Cultural Center of the Philippines to cheer her on.
“It’s the first time that we actually have fans present during a Cinemalaya press conference,” Chris Millado, the festival director and CCP’s vice president cheerfully acknowledged in his speech.
Later on, the Megastar—who tried her best not to steal the spotlight from her director but was nonetheless mobbed by reporters—shared she had always wanted to be part of the pioneering independent film festival.
“I really wanted to be part of Cinemalaya. After doing so, I can say that it was a great experience for me,” she related.
Cuneta added she feels honored and excited to be lined up with an assembly she called “hardcore filmmakers.”
“What they are investing in these kinds of movies are love, passion, craft and dedication to the industry. It’s not that they have to make money because their film’s budget is this big… I discovered that this is ‘all systems go’ [meaning]as long as you have the story and the actors, you can still come out with a masterpiece.”
According to her director, he actually wrote the story for Cuneta herself, who not only led the cast but also co-produced the movie. Happy with both the process and the outcome of Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha the veteran actress promised that this would not be the last time she would take part in the festival, especially if she comes across a great script.
“God willing, in the future, I will continue to support Cinemalaya even if I will not star in one of its movies,” Cuneta vowed.
Besides Cuneta, the dark comedy/satire drama movie also stars Niño Muhlach, Moi Bien, Kiko Matos, Flor Salanga, Joe Gruta, Cris Villanueva, Richard Quan, Michelle Vito, Philip Olayvar and Alonzo Muhlach.
Cinemalaya 13 will run from August 4 to 13 at the various venues of the CCP and Ayala cinemas.