The uncertain homecoming of ‘Barbers Tales’

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Eugene Domingo plays the role of Marilou, a widow who bravely takes over her husband’s barbershop despite the resulting mockery from the male townsfolk

Eugene Domingo plays the role of Marilou, a widow who bravely takes over her husband’s barbershop despite the resulting mockery from the male townsfolk

“Why am I more terrified to show this movie in my country than to the rest of the world?”

This was the emotionally-charged rhetorical question of Eugene Domingo at the announcement of an August 13 Philippine opening of her internationally acclaimed movie Barber’s Tales from APT Entertainment and Octobertrain Films.

The period film—a 1997 Carlos Palanca Award-winning screenplay written and directed by Jun Lana—has been screened in five international film festivals since premiering in Japan in October 2013, thereafter reaping the following accolades and nominations: Best Actress for Eugene Domingo and a Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix nomination at the 2013 Tokyo International Film Festival; Best Project Award at the 2013 Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum; 3rd Place Crystal Mulberry Audience Award at the 2014 Far East Film Festival in Undine, Italy; and Best Director for Jun Lana at the 2014 Madrid International Film Festival.

Domingo, who is known by the local mainstream audience first and foremost as a comedienne, is also a highly revered independent film actor, what with her 2011 Cinemalaya entry Ang Babae sa Septic Tank recorded as “the highest grossing independent film in Filipino entertainment history.” [Wikipedia]


Despite this feat, the box-office actress of such commercial comedies as the Kimmy Dora franchise [Star Cinema] still remains incredibly frustrated over the poor turnout of audiences during nationwide runs of quality independent movies.

“Pagod na po akong mag-benta ng ganitong pelikula,” she tearfully yet forcefully declared beside a quietened Lana. “Hindi naman basura ang ipapakita mo yet I’m still terrified to the bones.

“If these honors and awards [which Barber’s Tales has received]are not enough [to bring Filipinos to the cinema], then I don’t know what else will,” she pronounced.

Barber’s Tales is a touching and inspiring story of women empowerment during the height of Martial Law in a fictional Filipino town in the 1970s. Domingo plays the role of Marilou, a widow who bravely takes over her husband’s barbershop despite the resulting mockery from the male townsfolk. She draws courage from her friends, women like her who had long yearned for their own self liberation, and eventually breaks out from the conventions of society that life is basically a man’s world.

“Nagulat ako sa naging mainit na pag-tanggap ng foreign audiences sa pelikulang ito dahil ang tema niya ay very specific to our culture. In fact, mas ma-a-appreciate nga talaga siya ng Filipino audience kaysa sa ibang nationalities,” advocated Lana of his critically-acclaimed work. “Pero kung tatanungin ako kung paano nag-connect ang foreign audiences dito, I will really have to say it’s because of Uge [Domingo’s nickname]. Yung performance niya ang talagang nag-dala ng kuwento.”

Lana recalled how amazed he was over Domingo’s effect on those who saw the film regardless of their nationality.

“Mapa-Italiano o español, pumipila sila sa linya after the screening para yakapin si Uge!” he exclaimed.

Even while the story, as well as the film’s stellar cast in Eddie Garcia, Iza Calzado, Gladys Reyes, Daniel Fernando, Nonie and Shamaine Buencamino, Nicco Manlao, and no less than Superstar Nora Aunor in a cameo, delivers a powerful piece of cinematic art, the young and gifted director bows to his main star in giving true justice to his work.

“This movie comes once in a life time,” responded Domingo, looking beyond her performance. “I’m so very emotional because like one Frenchman said to me, ‘This is a very important film for your country.’ And when he asked, ‘How do you think they will receive this?’, all I could say was, ‘We don’t know’.”

For more information on Barber’s Tales’ Facebook account for more information.

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