International Film Festival Recognition 2/2

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Other International Film Festival Recognition

Official Entry – Festival del film Locarno Switzerland (1978) – Burlesk Queen (1977) – “…It was 1977 with an exceptional film, Burlesk Queen, that Castillo got his frist critical recognition. Entered in that year’s Metro Manil Film Festival, it was adjudged the Best Picture, won forhim a Best Director Award as well as nine other artistic awards. It told a young girl in Manila in the 50’s who wanted to become a burlesque dancer. It showed a subdued Castillo. He seemed in this film, to have held back his passion for visual impact to give way to his new mastery of film grammar. His characters cried and whimpered, they did not scream and curse. They delievered dissertations on art, not imprecations of wrath, which had set the pitch of his previous films. The critics fought bitterly over Burlesk Queen. In that festival, he was contending with film makers who enjoyed a high reputation among the country’s most avid film critics. Upon winning the award, Castillo instantly became the favorite beating boy of the critics who did not appreciate Burlesk Queen. To prove to them his worth, Castillo did Pagputi ng Uwak, a 50’s epic set in his favorite Southern Tagalog locale. It was the most lavish of all his productions and had all the elements of a “great” Filipino film. He exploited the many religious and social rituals typical of the region. The film featured the two most critically acclaimed performers of the time, Bembol Roco, Jr. and Vilma Santos, with the cinematography of Romy Vitug complementing Castillo’s visual sense. And it touched on civil unrest to underline the film director’s social awareness. Pagputi ng Uwak was a visual fest, an artistic and socially responsive film aimed at the critics. It was also Castillo’s first commercial failure after a string of more than 20 minor and major box-office hits…In just a decade, Castillo, with all his audacity and dramatic excesses, has claimed his place as one of the most versatile and genuinely interesting filmmakers in the Philippines today…” – Rosauro de la Cruz (READ MORE)

Official Entry – 1978 Berlin Film Festival (official citation not verified) – Burlesk Queen (1977) – “…One of the first Filipino filmmakers to invade foreign film festivals abroad with such output as Burlesk Queen and Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (Berlin Film Festival and World Film Festival in Montreal) and Nympha (Venice Film Festival), among others, Celso The Kid returned to his hometown Siniloan, Laguna where he led a quiet life while working on his autobiography…His 1977 film, Burlesk Queen, won 10 out of the 11 awards of the 1977 Metro Manila Film Festival but the results were contested by Lino Brocka and defended by juror Rolando Tinio (now National Artists for Film and Theater), respectively. He reflected: “I wanted to vindicate myself as a filmmaker in this movie. The media referred to me as a reluctant artist and a filmmaker who has yet to arrive. Not only did the film run away with awards. It was also the top grosser. It broke the myth that quality films don’s make money in the box-office and commercial films don’t win awards…” – Pablo A. Tariman, The Philippine Star, 28 November 2012 (READ MORE)

Official Selection – ASEAN Film Festival, Sydney Austarlia (1981); Official Selection – Asia-Pacific Film Festival, Taipei Taiwan (1978) – Masarap, Masakit ang Umibig (1977) – “…Elwood Perez and Vilma Santos colloborated in seven films (Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos 1988, Lipad Darna Lipad 1973, Magkaribal 1979, Masarap Masakit ang Umibig 1977, Nakawin Natin ang Bawat Sandali 1978, Pakawalan Mo Ako 1981, Pinay American Style 1979). The first one was the trilogy that he co-directed with two other director, Borlaza and Gosiengfiao (these three are the most underrated and under appreciated directors in the Philippines), the remake of Mars Ravelo comic super hero, Darna in Lipad Darna Lipad. The film was a record-breaking hit Box-office Film. They follow this up with a more mature projects as Vilma started to switched her image from sweet to a mature versatile actress, pairing her with Christopher DeLeon in five films starting with Masarap Masakit Ang Umibig in 1977. The Perez-Santos-DeLeon team produced seven blockbuster hits that gave Vilma two FAMAS best actress awards that secured her elevation to FAMAS highest honour, the FAMAS Hall of Fame award. She won in 1979 for Pakawalan Mo Ako and 1988 for Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos…” – RV (READ MORE)

Official Entry – 1979 The Latin American Film Festival Sao Paolo, Brazil (official citation not verified) – Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) (1978) – “…This veritable spiritual co-ownership ostensibly has enriched us all, Asians or Asean. It is no mark of a monarchical hauteur to say, for instance, that the films of Celso Ad Castillo, once dubbed as the Messiah of Filipino movies, are contemporaneous in their being a classic. If all these seem contradictory, Celso can easily point to his filmography to prove that there has always been, and will always be, fire in his filmmaker’s eyes. His “Burlesk Queen” and “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) for one, are now a classic, conscience-searing sociological film tractatus on structutal violence and institutional injustice that probed into the hearts of little people amidst a third world setting as encapsulated in the microscopic life of a poverty-stricken, young woman. It’s Rossellini, you would say? Think again…”Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak” was sent to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the Latin American Film Festival and represented the Philippines at the Asean Film Conference in 1981…” – Celso Ad Castillo Presents web-site (READ MORE)

Official Entry – 1981 Asean Film Conference (official citation not verified) – Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) (1978) – “…This veritable spiritual co-ownership ostensibly has enriched us all, Asians or Asean. It is no mark of a monarchical hauteur to say, for instance, that the films of Celso Ad Castillo, once dubbed as the Messiah of Filipino movies, are contemporaneous in their being a classic. If all these seem contradictory, Celso can easily point to his filmography to prove that there has always been, and will always be, fire in his filmmaker’s eyes. His “Burlesk Queen” and “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) for one, are now a classic, conscience-searing sociological film tractatus on structutal violence and institutional injustice that probed into the hearts of little people amidst a third world setting as encapsulated in the microscopic life of a poverty-stricken, young woman. It’s Rossellini, you would say? Think again…”Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak” was sent to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the Latin American Film Festival and represented the Philippines at the Asean Film Conference in 1981…” – Celso Ad Castillo Presents web-site (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Manila International Film Festival: Restrospective Festival “Focus on the Philippines” (1983) – Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (1978) – “…Furor is really an understatement. “Burlesk” swept the awards in that year’s MMFF, resulting in a controversy that led to the wholesale return of trophies. In spite of the scandal, “Burlesk” is still regarded by critics as the “quintessential” Filipino film. “Hinamon ni Brocka si Tinio ng suntukan (Lino Brocka dared Rolando Tinio to a fight), ” Celso remembers. “Tinio, who was the head of the jury, heralded “Burlesk as the most beautiful Filipino film” past, present and future.” Vi’s turnaround: Adding fuel to the fire, “Burlesk” had stunned moviegoers because it unveiled a new Vilma Santos “from ingénue to wanton woman. Vilma says of “Burlesk?” – “It marked a transition in my career. Working with Celso Kid is a privilege. He’s a genius.” With good humor, Vilma recalls a “quarrel” on the set of “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” which she produced in 1978. “It took so long to finish. I lost money on that. But we’re still friends.” Burlesk and Pagputi brought a lot of honor to me…” – Bayani Santos Jr., Inquirer (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Manila International Film Festival: Restrospective Festival “Focus on the Philippines” (1983) – Relasyon (1982) – “…Patrocinio and Bernal’s own mother, Elena, could very well have been Ishmael’s inspiration for several classics of Philippine movies. In Relasyon, Vilma Santos played the querida who lived up to her name as the beloved, a lady of intellect and fine sensibility; the virtually separated Emil truly loved and preferred her to his legal wife. In Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon (Two Nest, One Bird), Bernal explored the male’s polygamous nature, and pitted him against gritty female characters. In these films, Bernal recast the querida different from the stereotype of a family wrecker toward a clear-headed case-by-case realist delineation of the common-law wife. In Relasyon, Bernal can arguably be shown as a champion of the querida as a Filipino director, in depicting Marilou as a principled martyr in a society that wrongfully extols man’s false claim to moral ascendancy. As would be evident in the film, Ishmael saw the injustice done to women in male-dominated society, as he also saw and questioned the morality and rationality of institutionalized but falsely monogamist families…” – Bayani Santos Jr., Manuel L. Quezon University, Bernal as Auteur: Primary Biographical Notes, 2012 (READ MORE)

Philippine Film Week Moscow, Russia (1984) – Broken Marriage (1983) – “…Reportedly Ms. Santos, buoyed by the many acting awards earned by the previous film, was so eager to do well in the new production that Bernal got irritated, locked her in a bathroom, and delivered to her an ultimatum: she was not coming out till she got over her ‘hysteria.’ One sees what made the latter so successful, the same time watching this one sees why Bernal didn’t want to simply duplicate that success. Relasyon was a lean and elegantly told melodrama that took a sidelong glance at the institution of Filipino marriage; in Broken Marriage Bernal wanted to examine the institution directly, without the oblique glances. He didn’t want to film some doomed struggle to keep love alive but something less dramatic, far more difficult to capture: the aftermath of a protracted war, where the ultimate casualty is married love. He in effect didn’t want Ms. Santos at her perkiest and most energetic–he wanted her exhausted, looking for a way out, and to her credit Ms. Santos delivers exactly this with her performance…” – Noel Vera (READ MORE)

Prague International Film Festival (1984) (citation needed) – Broken Marriage (1983) – “…Vilma Santos is not about to be a letdown, not this time when the most important female roles are coming her way. A new intelligence she infuses in the character Ellen. Like De Leon, she turns Ellen into a woman-child, but the stress is less on her part as she has done similar roles before. Her beautiful face is flush receptive: the quiet moments of just observing the people around her are moments of perfect acting. Her body moves with an agility that is both funny and dramatic. Her two monologues – the first with her friends in the cafe when she informs them that she is bored, and the second with Rene when she tells him that they are not children anymore – are her best scenes: the camera lingers upon her countenance and she enunciates in return with ironic ease. She should watch out for next year’s awards race – there is simply no stopping her at the moment…” – Joselito Zulueta, Sine Manila – 1983 (READ MORE)

Vienna International Film Festival (1984) (citation needed) – Broken Marriage (1983) – “…Though in the last cited awards, Karnal did not make it as best films, it nevertheless gave Broken Marriage a tough fight for the honor, in fact winning more nominations than Berna’s films. It evetually won prizes for performances, cinematography, music and editing…A product of film schools, Marilou earned her M.A. in Film and Television from Loyola Marrymount College in Los Angeles and received a diploma in film from the London Film School. In May, she will be flying to Moscow to attend the Philippine Film Week, where Karnal, Broken Marriage and Soltero will be exhibited. Then it will be Prague and Vienna for both Karnal and Broken Marriage. Her earlier work, Brutal has also been invited to Tokyo’s Pia Film Festival, which is sponsored by critics and journalist to showcase the works of young directors from 10 countries. International may have come her way, but at the moment, Marilou is earnestly preoccupied with starting her latest project, Baby Tsina, which will star two-time Urian best actress Vilma Santos, and written by Marilou’s signature scenarist Ricky Lee. In a few days, the camera are set to start grinding for the director’s new film…” – Justino Dormiendo, Movie Flash Magazine, April 26, 1984 (READ MORE)

Official Entry – Venice International Film Festival (1985)  – Sister Stella L. (Sangandaan /Incroci /Crossroad) (1984) – “…There would have been two important Filipino films in this year’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival: Sister Stella L., directed by Mike de Leon and Kapit sa Patalim, directed by Lino Brocka. Both smuggled out to France and both vitally political in thrust, the two films were reportedly disowned by the Philippine embassy in France. Supposedly under instructions from the Philippine goverment, the embassy sent the following disclaimer to the festival directorate: “There are no Filipino films in the Cannes Film Festival.” The two films nevertheless made it to the festival site, though only one was screened as scheduled. Brocka’s film was in the category “In Competition,” and was tested against the works of such eminent directors as Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, and Satyajit Ray. Early on Kapit sa Patalim (which acquired a second title, Bayan Ko, in deference to another film project which had been approved before Brocka’s project) was rumored to be a strong contender for the Best Film award. Critic Bertrand Tavernier was quoted as saying, “It’s a toss-up between Wim Wenders’ Paris Texas and Brockas’s Bayan Ko.” De Leon’s film was to have had special screenings, on the unanimous request of the Cannes’ board of critics. Sister Stella L., however, suffered from the rush of subtitling work that descended upon Cannes’ select group of translators and De Leon opted not to show the film without subtitles. He nevertheless had the distinct honor of holding a retrospective under the sponsorship of the French Cinematheque right after the festival. The film eventually competed at the Venice Film Festival. Under its original title Sangandaan (Crossroads), Sister Stella L. was invited to the Venice Film Festival in 1984, the second Filipino film (after Genghis Khan in 1951) to be honored with such recognition…” – Agustin L. Sotto and Pet Cleto, Philippine Panorama, Dec 02 1984 (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Asia-Pacific Film Festival Special Jury Award (1999) – Chito S. Roño – Bata, Bata… Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story) (1998) – “…The film “Bata, Bata…Paano ka Ginawa?” was also given a Special Jury Award for Women’s Awareness at the Asia Pacific Film Festival held in Bangkok, Thailand from Nov. 22-26, 1999. Ms. Santos was a Best Actress nominee…” – Eric Nadurata (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 35th Chicago Film Festival (1999) – Bata, Bata… Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story) (1998) – “…In one of the most remarkable performances in Filipino film history, Vilma Santos plays Lea, a woman who defiantly rejects social convention to experience life on her own terms. A woman’s rights activist and mother of two, Lea has been abandoned by the fathers of her children. Her daughter and son are at crucial, transitional ages and she struggles to provide for them while maintaining her hectic job at a women’s crisis center. Soon, however, the job and her budding romance with co-worker Johnny threaten Lea’s role as mother. When the children’s fathers turn up to accuse her of neglect, she must ask herself whether her independence is worth the possibility of losing her children? What role–motherhood or lover–will best satisfy the deepest needs of her soul?…” – CIFF (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Pusan International Film Festival (1999) – Bata, Bata… Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story) (1998) – “…As much as people think that this is Vilma Santos’ movie, I beg to disagree. Me thinks it was the children’s show. Serena Dalrymple and Carlo Aquino gave two of the best child acting performances ever. Serena as Maya was a chatty young kid, whose bluntness, frankness, and honesty come across as cute and comical however one can still question as to how she was brought up. Carlo Aquino’s Ojie is a more mature kid, he understood what was going on and was rebelling to the fucked-up-ness of their situation. What pisses me off is that today, there hardly is a movie that Carlo Aquino is in, except maybe for last year’s “Carnivore, “where he was superb in again. Aquino is one of the few great young actors of his time that still is a great actor up to know. He is just not that present anymore. And I kinda wish that he makes more movies, because I know that he is a superb actor…” – Douglas Racso (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Temecula Valley International Film Festival (1999) – Bata, Bata… Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story) (1998) – “…A free-spirited woman and madre de familia runs her life and raises her children unconventionally. It is one of the best films that espouses feminism without being didactic and self-righteous. Humorous, poignant and insightful, it features a yet-another dazzling performance by Vilma Santos…” – Mario A. Hernando (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Hawaii International Film Festival (1999) – Bata, Bata… Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story) (1998) – “…Chito Rono’s telling and prismatic depiction of Lea’s character is worthy of praise because it is full-bodied and filled with surprises, unlike most other local film characterizations, which are two-dimensional and predictable. The audience’s hearty response to Vilma’s spirited portrayal of Lea is a big change from viewer’s knee-jerk responses to most lead characterizations on the local screen, which fail to delight and surprise because they follow tired, old formats so automatically…” – RV (READ MORE)

Philippines’ Official Entry to the Foreign Language Film Category – 73rd Academy Awards (OSCAR) – Anak (The Child) (2000) – “…Mas mahusay para sa amin ang pagkakaganap ni Vilma Santos sa “Anak” kaysa sa “Bata, Bata…Paano ka Ginawa?”. Hindi malayong humakot na naman siya ng award rito…But the film still belongs to Vilma, who goes through an entire spectrum of varied emotions as Josie, mula sa katuwaan at excitement niya sa pagbabalik sa Pilipinas (natural na natural ‘yung pagiging aligaga niya habang namamahagi ng pasalubong sa mga anak niya), ang disappointment niya nang matanto niyang hindi na niya kilala ang mga batang binalikan niya, hanggang sa finally ay sumambulat siya sa tagpong pinagsasampal na rin niya si Claudine at pinalalayas. It’s a bravura sequence and the performance is magnificent…” – Mario E. Bautista (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Fukuoka Asian Film Festival (2001) – Anak (The Child) (2000)- “…Children feel they are abandoned by their mother even they know their daily life is supported by her remittance. Mother’s love ends up with broken relationship. What a tragedy! The life of the family looks not bad in Philippine standard. In fact their house is large enough even in Japanese standard. However, their father, who looks a good man, do not have stable job, if not minimal income which is hard to afford their life. In fact, even working abroad as a maid is a kind of status. I don’t understand why the mother does not cancel going to Hong Kong and choose yet another life, to live with her family with less income, after reconciliation with her daughter. Unless Filipinos decide to quit working overseas for little money, I think this country would not become better. By the way, this is the first film I saw Vilma Santos. Her performance is superb. Few actresses can act both comical and serious sides of the same character…” – Furuya Shiro (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 2001 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festiva1 (2001) – Anak (The Child) (2000) – “…Josie’s final decision to leave for H.K. once again makes little sense, beyond its providing an excuse for “Anak’s” fourth hysterical-sobbing-at-the-airport sequence. That’s too bad, since early reels observe parent-child relationships with considerable delicacy. Quintos’ fluid handling of potentially claustrophobic, mawkish material underplays script’s more obvious gambits until they overwhelm pic. Veteran local star Santos is in fine form, while Barretto lends impressive shading to what might have been a stock sexy “bad girl” role. Tech package is polished…” – Dennis Harvey, Variety Magazine, 19 March 2001 (READ MORE)

Official Selection – San Francisco Asian American Film Festival (2001) – Anak (The Child) (2000) – “…The slick production is turned into art by its star Vilma Santos. Her magnetic star quality makes her look so wrong for the part and yet she makes it all her own. She’s a natural comedianne and a great tragedienne-her look of resignation is heartbreaking. Vilma discards the glittering clothes and make-up for Anak, but she still looks youthful. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if the sensitive young actor playing her son would go on to play her leading man a few years from now…” – Dennis Ladaw (READ MORE)

Philippines’ Official Entry to the Foreign Language Film Category – 76th Academy Awards (OSCAR) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…For ten consecutive years from 1995 to 2004, the Philippines submitted films for consideration for the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Oscar Awards. But up to this point of film history, we remain in the list of countries who has never won nor nominated for this award…The next year 2003, the country’s entry was Dekada ’70, directed by Chito S. Rono based on the novel Dekada ’70 of Lualhati Bautista. It tells the story of a middle-class Filipino couple (Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos) and their five sons during a tumultuous decade of the martial law regime. The sons were played by Piolo Pascual, Carlos Agassi, Marvin Agustin, Daniel Barrios and John Wayne Sace…” – FAP (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Asian Pacific Film Festival (2003) – Dekada 70 (2002) “…The acting is generally impressive, most especially that of lead actress Santos, who gives a luminous, sensitive performance. Santos essays the transformation of Amanda so effectively that we do see clearly at the end of the film that there has been a fundamental change in her character…” – Antonio D. SisonAntonio D. Sison, Katholieke Universiteit Nijimegen, Journal of Religion & Film, University of Nebraska (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Hawai International Film Festival (2003) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…Four local movies have so far been chosen by Christian Gaines of the Hawaii International Film Festival for exhibition in the prestigious event in November. Four more will be picked in July when Gaines returns to Manila. Hawaii filmfest ’99 is focused on the Philippines.  The first four movies selected were Chito Roño’s “Bata, Bata…Paano Ka Ginawa?,” Joel Lamangan’s “Sidhi,” Carlitos Siguion Reyna’s “Kahapon May Dalawang Bata,” and Gil Portes’ “Saranggola.”  Of the four, only “Saranggola” has not yet been commercially released. Gaines viewed a rough copy (interlock) of “Saranggola” whose post-production work is yet unfinished. “Saranggola” stars Ricky Davao and Lester Llansang as father and son. Script by Butch Dalisay.  Also being eyed for Filipino movies’ participation is the Sundance (Utah) filmfest (Robert Redford’s very own project), where Gaines is in charge of the world cinema division. “Saranggola” is an aspirant to the June Manila Film Festival.  Gaines is inviting Cesar Montano as juror and Vilma Santos as special guest to the Hawaii filmfest, where “Jose Rizal” was shown last year…” – Sol Jose Vanzi, April 17, 1999 (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Quebec City International Film Festival (2003) – Dekada 70 (2002) – “…There are touches of seventies style Filipino humor that foreign audiences might miss; they effectively establish that this is a real, average Filipino family trying to navigate through the eye of the political storm. The acting is generally impressive, most especially that of lead actress Santos, who gives a luminous, sensitive performance. Santos essays the transformation of Amanda so effectively that we do see clearly at the end of the film that there has been a fundamental change in her character. If there is something to be faulted about the film, it is Roňo’s failure to keep melodramatic moments in check. The funeral sequence of one of Amanda’s sons, for instance, becomes an over-extended session of copious tears. The rich story material of Dekada 70 could do away with such “in your face” paroxysms, which only work to dull the film’s cutting edge political trajectory. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that Roňo had created a noteworthy, epic-scale Filipino film, and on a Third World budget at that. It also cannot be denied that Roňo had not forgotten the sentence of history on his home country…” – Antonio D. Sison, Insititute for Pastoral Initiatives University of Dayton (READ MORE)

Official Selection – The World International Film Festival of Montreal (2003) – Dekada 70 (2002) – “…The reason “Sister Stella L” will probably end up better appreciated is that the movie was shown during the martial law era. The movie was relevant to the times and Vilma was portraying an activist nun, a role not usually associated with the Star for all Seasons… As the mother, Vilma does justice to her character, holding back her strong emotions until the end, when she finally confronts Christopher de Leon and wants to break up with him. Despite the many tragic events that befall her character, Vilma chooses to underplay her role except at key points towards the end of the movie. Boyet is his usual competent self as the chauvinistic husband of Vilma who is forced to change when his wife breaks out of her shell. Piolo Pascual also deserves mention for his realistic portrayal of the activist turned NPA rebel…” – Edmund L. Sicam, Philippine Daily Inquirer (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 15tth Ankara International Film Festival (2003) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…during the first half of the film, Vilma’s character occasionally felt unhappy, taken for granted or unappreciated as a person, but she held her emotions in check to keep the peace in the family. It was only later, when the national trauma of martial law rule affected her sons in various tragic ways, that she found the voice and rediscovered the heart to assert herself as a person and to give her emotions full play. We submit that Vilma’s portrayal is excellent precisely because she vivified he character as the wife and mother was in the ‘70s. Her thematic and emotional high points towards the end of the film rivetting, but it was her quieter, more controlled moments that showcased Vilma’s true gift as an actress. During those moments, Vilma didn’t just observe what was going on, she was constantly conflicted only, she had been programmed not to speak out because it wasn’t her “place”. Thus, when she finally changes and expresses herself in the end, the contrast makes her transformation all the more stunning…” – Nestor Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer (READ MORE)

Special Exhibition: Cannes International Film Festival (2005) – Dekada 70 (2002) – “…At the center of the film and the family is Amanda (Filipino cinematic diva Vilma Santos) who vicariously experiences living under a dictatorship through her husband and five sons’ different reactions before coming into her own as a person. Her husband, Julian (Christopher De Leon), seems a walking contradiction: He offers rationalizations for the government while supporting his eldest son’s revolutionary activities, but has a fit when his wife wants to get a job. As for the sons, firstborn son (Piolo Pascual) joins the guerillas in the mountains. The second son (Carlos Agassi), forced into a shotgun wedding, defiantly works for the American Navy. The third son (Marvin Augustin) writes journalistic exposes he can’t publish, while the fourth son (Danilo Barrios) is a mystery to his family until his brutal, motiveless murder (probably by police) reveals a lost girlfriend. The fifth son (John W. Sace) is still a boy. Santos’ Amanda effortlessly and movingly chronicles the changed consciousness of the family and the country, with understatement her most reliable tool. Pic begins and ends with images of Santos at the forefront of a political demonstration, and nothing, from first image to last, for 128 minutes, is allowed to spontaneously or slyly deviate from the logic of her consciousness-raising…” – Ronnie Scheib, Variety Magazine (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Palm Spring International Film Festival (2003) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…In Chito S. Roño’s superb “Dekada ’70,” a family in the Marcos-era Philippines has a domineering father and five sons, but it is the mother (Vilma Santos) who provides the mental stamina. She fights for her family in ways the father can’t even dream of. “To give birth to these children isn’t enough,” she says. “You have to defend them, protect them.” That’s the ’70s. In 30 years, that kind of woman will deal with difficult questions of divorce and motherhood, one in which women want freedom, yet must be willing to share blame when something goes wrong. The young woman who leaves her husband and thinks about aborting her pregnancy in South Korean filmmaker Gina Kim’s “Invisible Light” is an experimental example. Moon’s great performance in “A Good Lawyer’s Wife” almost makes you believe wrong is right, and, taken with her much-lauded portrayal of a girl with cerebral palsy in “Oasis,” reveals her as one of the world’s best actresses. Hollywood, take note. – No stereotypes of Asians here…” – G. Allen Johnson, Festival Celebrates Real Women, San Francisco Chronicle March 4, 2004 (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 22nd San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (2003) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…Last seen in Anak (SFIAAFF ‘01), Vilma Santos delivers an understated, profoundly moving performance as the matriarch whose awakening redefines the traditional mother and wife role she donned for years. This is the story of an incredible character that survived an unforgettable decade…” – Michael Magnaye, San Francisco Premiere (READ MORE)

Official Selection – UCLA Filipino Film Festival – Classics of the Filipino Film (2002) – Sister Stella L. (1984) – “…The final film was “Sister Stella L.” 1984, directed by Mike de Leon. Produced and shown during the Martial Law period of Ferdinand Marcos, this film is the story of a nun who is conscienticized and begins to identify wit the cause of the striking laborers. It won ten Urian awards and was chosen as one of the ten best films of the 1980s by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino…” – Barbara Gaerlan (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 6th San Diego Asian Film Festival (2003) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…Santos’ performance is so vivid and insightful that we can see her changing in front of our very eyes… We were enthralled…we were moved. And we valued the film’s important contribution to the very urgent task of reminding everyone of the trauma in our collective lives that was the martial law period of the ’70s,” noted Nestor Torre of Inquirer News Service. Chito Rono’s Dekada ‘70 made its world premier at the Asian American International Film Festival in June of 2003. The film has also won numerous domestic awards. The Young Critics Circle voted Dekada ‘70 Best Film of the Year (2002), Best Screenplay, Best Sound and Best Performance in a tie between actress Vilma Santos (Amanda) and Piolo Pascual (Amanda’s eldest son). The Best Film of the Year award is reserved for the director, such that no separate prize for direction is needed. The Best Performance award is the most coveted as it is conferred on the performer whether male or female, adult or child, individual or ensemble in leading or supporting role. Vilma Santos also received an award for Best Actress from Star Awards for Movies, Film Academy of The Philippines, and Gawad Urian Awards. Piolo Pascual also received an award for Best Supporting Actor from the Young Critics Film Circle, Metro Manila Film Festival, Star Awards for Movies, Film Academy of the Philippines, FAMAS Awards, and Gawad Urian Awards. The Gawad Urian Awards also presented Dekada ’70 with the award for Best Screenplay…” – Sara Stokoe, Asia Pacific Arts (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 8th Shanghai International Film Festival (2005) – Mano Po III: My Love (2004) – “…As a love story, it is romantic as romantic can be – passionate even. And you really have to give it to the durable love team of Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon to be able to pull off a material like Mano Po 3 and give the kilig effect of expected by most viewers and fans of love stories. It is handsomely-mounted, glossy and very entertaining. Its production values are far more superior compared to other local movies…” – Butch Francisco, Philippine Star (READ MORE)

Official Selection – The International Cannes Film Festival – Cinemas of the World (2005) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…On May 20, the Philippine films listed below were exclusively screened in a newly built theater within the Cannes Festival area: named All Cinemas in the World Theater, a new section in the International Cannes Film Festival where only seven countries including the Philippines , out of 125 countries, were invited to send their films. Feature Films…Dekada 70, Stars: Vilma Santos, Christopher de Leon; Director: Chito Rono…There was a long red carpet leading to the All the Cinemas in the World Theater. The exhibition of our films were well attended and appreciated. In fact, some of those who saw them commented that our films are better than some of the films in competition. This was confided to Mr. Robert Malengreau, an officer of the Brussel Film Festival and widely-respected film journalist, who enjoyed mentioning repeatedly said comment to us…” – Atty. Espiridion D. Laxa, Chairman FAP, Jun 1, 2005 (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 25 Filipino films shown at Lincoln Center (2010) – Sister Stella L (1984) and Relasyon (The Affair) (1982) – “In celebration of the 100th year of Philippine Independence, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in partnership with the Philippine Centennial Commission, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, IFFCOM, the Philippine Information Agency, the Consulate General of the Philippines in New York and the Philippine Centennial Coordinating Council – Northeast USA, presented a series of Filipino films at the Walter Reade Theater of the Lincoln Center. Slated July 31 through August 20, and with a line-up of about 25 films, the series was the most extensive Filipino film retrospective ever to take place in the United States. All prints are subtitled in English. By including old classics as well as contemporary films, the three-week festival brought the country’s centennial commemoration into sharper historical focus. It also featured some of the best works by acclaimed director Lino Brocka, and concluded with the award-winning short films and videos of young, upcoming Filipino and Filipino-American filmmakers. The members of the film selection committee were Richard Peña (Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center), Domingo Hornilla, Jr., Vincent “Ting” Nebrida, and Agustin “Hammy” Sotto. Some of the titles shown in the festival were: In the Classics Category…two films by Mike De Leon: Sister Stella L. starring Vilma Santos and Batch ’81 starring Mark Gil; and three works by Ishmael Bernal namely Nunal sa Tubig (A Speck in the Water) starring Daria Ramirez, Aliw starring Suzette Ranillo and Relasyon starring Vilma Santos…Among Brocka’s films being spotlighted were Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Insiang, Tinimbang Ka Nguni’t Kulang (You Were Weighed But Was Found Wanting) and Ina, Kapatid, Anak (Mother, Sister, Daughter)…” – Seapavaa Bulletin (READ MORE)

Official Selection: Moviemov: Italian Cinema Now 2012, December 4 to 9 2012 – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…Moviemov will also feature five Filipino films, including the newly restored Genghis Khan (1950) by Manuel Conde, which was “lost” in the 1950s and was restored in digital, high definition format through a collaborative effort of the FDCP, National Film Archive of the Philippines, Venice Film Festival and L’Immagine Ritrovata. Other Filipino films to be feted in Moviemov this year are Dekada ’70 by Chito Roño, The Mistress by Olivia Lamasan, Qiyamah by Gutierrez Mangansakan, and the winner of the FDCP’s National Film Festival in Davao City. For this year’s Moviemov, the youth is a special focus. Students from Makati public schools will be watching the films. “Cinema is the greatest art,” Bettini says. “Unfortunately, nowadays, youth are educated by TV. Tastes have been changing. It’s very important to have cinema brought to the youth, because it defines taste and educates conscience and will inform them in a deeper way…” – Michele Logarta, The Philippine Star, Dec 02 2012 (READ MORE)

Official Selection:Toronto International Film FestivalContemporary World Cinema Programme September 5-15, 2013 – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…Told with an eye for the ludicrous excesses and stresses of TV work (one director is tasked with shooting forty set-ups in two days) and the inherently existential comedy of being a stand-in, Jeturian’s film never misses a target. One overly nervous extra loses her dentures during shooting; a neophyte shows up to play a peasant wearing enough makeup to shame RuPaul. At the same time, the film is buoyed with ample affection for the characters’ dreams. After working all day and into the night, the inevitably cheerful Loida is capable of pontificating about the important role the extras play. Skilfully directed by Jeturian, and driven by Santos’ courageous performance and peerless comic timing, The Bit Player is also a kind of tribute to Loida. Even at her lowest point, she never gives up…” – Steve Gravestock, Senior Programmer, TIFF (READ MORE)

At the sold-out premiere in Toronto, many in the long lineup awaiting the film’s start were excited to watch it given the critical acclaim at Cinemalaya. Arnold Manalac, a big Santos fan, organized about 20 of his friends to come watch the film. “These are all my college friends, friends here in Toronto, some of my relatives,” he said while pointing out the smiling faces with him, “so we organized and came up with a small group to support this film. The crowd of mostly Filipino-Canadians was abuzz with anticipation, including the very first people in the line, Danny Ong and Ricardo Obusan, who came to support independent Filipino films. Jeturian signed autographs before and after the film’s screening and took questions from the audience. The final showing of Ekstra at TIFF is Sept. 15, but the movie will have a theatrical release in eight Canadian cities including Mississauga and Scarborough from Sept. 13 to 26…” – Dyan Ruiz, The Philippine Reporter, 13 Sept 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection Asia Pop! 2013 San Diego Asian Film Festival (Nov 7-16 2013) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…In a way, Santos can be compared to Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange; both thespians employ their entire body to bring out the internal turmoil of their characters if necessary. Santos impassioned performance in classic films such as “Broken Marriage” and “Relasyon” demands certain explosiveness. Santos has always played the fighter, never the silent suffering victim. Even powerless, Santos’ characters have trudged on despite obvious defeat. She has always embodied the ferocious female spirit, which I grew up witnessing from the strong females in my family. Fight, survive at all cost. Similarly, Santos can also quietly stand still and let her face do the exposition, “Sister Stella L.” is a perfect example. In both commercially melodramatic and critically acclaimed films, all of the characters in Santos wide repertoire refused to go without a good fight. I have heard other critics call her the “feminists’ actor,” but do not take our word for it, you need to watch her films to verify that. In her latest movie, “Ekstra” (The Bit Player), Santos is back to form after her commercially successful but critically disappointing horror film, “The Healing.” Santos plays Loida, a bit player dreaming of becoming a star despite working in the industry for so long. At first glance, Santos seemed to be miscast as a bit player because she is too fair and beautiful to stay a bit player that long; however, thanks to Jeffrey Jeturian’s clever direction, Santos transcends the obvious. The Santos celebrity persona disappears and we see the face of a bit player being used as a mere tool by an industry hell bent on producing crap. Loida’s triumph lies in Jeturian’s blatant critique of the industry that exploits people for commercial purposes. Loida is not just a real character, she is a symbol. The delightful irony of “Ekstra” is using one of the biggest stars in the industry to play it small…” – Rob San Miguel, Brun Philippines, 18 August 2013 (READ MORE)

Special Selection: 2013 NuCinema: NUVALI Outdoor Film Festival (2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…Vilma Santos may have been the film’s initial main attraction, but we can’t deny the fact that this is the best comedy-drama of the year. Santos proved her star-for-all-seasons status was far from waning, but Jeffrey Jeturian’s film itself is a brilliant achievement. Its portrayal of the television industry’s bit players is both honest and hilarious. With its small scale and grand ambitions, Ekstra brings a different flavor to the usual tale of the downtrodden…” – Paul G. Alcantara, Kara B. Chung, The Guidon on line, 30 December 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection: World Cinema Section of 2013 International Film Festival of India Goa, India (2013) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…The International Film Festival in Goa in November 2013 came alive with young audiences from across the country patiently standing in long lines to watch serious world cinema. They were the real stars of this festival. In many shows, disappointed audiences were turned away because every seat was taken. There is a new audience out there, ready for new ideas, new film grammar, and new reflective cinema. The time is long overdue for a publically financed network of art theatres in every city in the country. In my three days in Goa, I spent most time with the Soul of Asia segment, which introduced me to some fine films described in an earlier column. I recall here a few other films which remain with me even as the weeks pass after the festival…Adopting a diametrically opposite idiom of exuberant comic irony is Philippine director Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra (Extra), an affectionate salute to the underdog. It follows one day in the life of a middle-aged woman extra, a bit player in television soap operas, after she is woken in the early hours of the morning one day to drive to a location shoot in the neighbouring countryside. The director subversively casts one of the Philippines’ best-loved actors, Vilma Santos, in the role of the extra. The viewer for once roots for the anonymous crowd — the farmer on the fields, the domestic help patiently waiting, and the guests in the background of a wedding — while the lead players strut and recite their lines. We watch the class system in the enormous gaps in food and lodging between stars and extras. The film mocks the hilarious script trajectories of the soap opera, and the vanity and fragile egos of its lead players. I often felt that if just the names were changed in the film’s script, it could have been located in India with no substantial changes…” – Harsh Mander, The Hindu, 28 Dec 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection: The 18th International Film Festival of Kerala (2013) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…I am aware of the Filipino culture and their language which could be one of the reasons why I happened to be amused by Jeffrey Jeturian’s “EKSTRA (The Bit Player)” when I caught it at the 6th Bengaluru Film Festival. But, that is not entirely the reason why the movie works big time! The prime reasons in that order would be…Vilma Santos, a sensational performer. She lives the character of an extra artiste in television soaps. Flawless, compelling and award-worthy, is her turn…To sum it up, Ekstra – The Bit Player is a poignant film which is certainly worth your time…” – Tusshar Sasi, Romancing Cinema, 27 Dec 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection NETPAC Award Winners: The 2013 Bangalore International Film Festival Bangalore, India (2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…The unshakable optimism of a middle-aged extra is the warm heart driving “The Bit Player,” an appealing dramedy that pokes plenty of good-natured fun at TV soap operas. Anchored by a glowing central performance by Filipino screen queen Vilma Santos as the single mother who smiles her way through work-related indignities in order to pay for her daughter’s education, the pic reps a fine feather in the cap of veteran helmer Jeffrey Jeturian. Winner of the audience award for best film in its category at Cinemalaya and a hit in domestic release in August, this crowdpleaser launches on limited North American screens on Sept. 13…Constant chuckles and a fair supply of big belly laughs are the order of the day as Loida, Venus and a lovable collection of fellow nameless wannabees are herded like cattle by Josie, acid-tongued assistant director Vincent (Vincent de Jesus, hilarious) and the super-stressed-out director (Marlon Rivera) of “You Were Mine First.” As expected, much of the fun derives from scenes being shot for the wildly melodramatic “You Were Mine First.” To that end, Jeturian gets great value from guest appearances by a host of big-name local stars including hunky matinee idol Piolo Pascual as troubled groom-in-waiting Brando, Pilar Pilapil as severe matriarch Dona Esmerelda and a wonderfully over-the-top Cherie Gil as gun-toting super-bitch Dona Beatriz. For all the merriment on display, the screenplay never loses sight of the economic and emotional imperatives propelling Loida’s uncomplaining acceptance of her place at the bottom of the entertainment-industry food chain. It’s no surprise when Loida finally gets a chance to make a mark with big speaking role in “You Were Mine First,” but the manner in which this plays out is surprising and genuinely touching…” – Richard Kuipers, Variety Magazine, 11 Sep 2013 (READ MORE)

In competition: The Boréal Audience Award Festival International de Films Independants Geneve – The 15th Black Movie Festival Geneva, Switzerland (2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “… As Loida Malabanan, Ate Vi shines even in anonymity. She is supposed to fade into the background, not outshine the “stars” and just do what is assigned her- to be a bit player. But even in the crowd, Ate Vi makes Loida stand out. She gives Loida the bit player enough motivation, and a poignant love for the acting craft that she has forever changed the image of the bit player, in the same way that she redefined the term “mistress” when she did Ishmael Bernal’s RELASYON way back. For the director, the staff and the big stars, Loida is a nobody. But for us, the audience, we recognize Loida’s magnanimity. Watch out for that pivotal scene in the third act where Loida, and us the audience learns the true meaning of ingratitude in the media. Ekstra is Vilma’s movie. We cannot imagine any other actress for her role. At the end of the day, as Loida descends from the jeepney, and prepares to go to bed just about when everyone is supposed to go to work, we feel exhausted. It’s not the physical work that made us tired, but the system of a dog eat dog society. Filmmaker Jeffrey Jeturian, through Loida exposes the hypocrisy of the thankless and unjust world of entertainment, and after that whole bout of laughing and laughing and crying afterwards, we are forever changed. Yeah right, like you didn’t already know you were gonna cry after seeing the trailer…” – Macky Macarayan, Death of Traditional Cinema, 30 July 2013 (READ MORE)

Philippine’s Official Entry:Dhaka International Film Festival Dhaka, Bangladesh (Jan 10-18 2014) – Winner of Best Actress – Vilma Santos, Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…The irony of Santos, Philippine media’s “Star for All Seasons,” playing a bit player adds to both the film’s hilarity and meaning. It’s almost as if the film is asking this: if seeing someone as respected as Vilma Santos marginalized could only elicit sympathy, what can the people sans Santos’ credentials possibly do to invite empathic thought? The film ended with a question: “Sinong namatay?” It was addressed to Loida but it could possibly be for the audience. It is easy to know who literally dies in a teleserye because it shows it. In real life, those figuratively murdered is silenced to anonymity. What socio-realist films like Ekstra thrive in is lending voice to people and realities made silent. What these films need and have always needed is an audience that will listen. Their taking action is the next best thing.” – Chryssa Celestino, The Lasallian, 4 Aug 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection:Women of the World/Pacific PearlsThe 38th Cleveland International Film Festival (2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…Ekstra” is a very entertaining film that brings us into the world of a bit player or “ekstra” in the punishing world of television soap operas, where hectic daily shooting deadlines are the norm. This was not only a glimpse for the audience, but more of an immersion. We get an in-depth, no-holds-barred, brutally frank expose on how bit players are treated on and off the set of a location shoot. Loida Malabanan has been a bit player for many years already. This job, however unstable, had enabled her to get her daughter through college even as a single mother, albeit barely…Ms. Vilma Santos is the heart and soul of this film, and she was such a paradox in this role. She portrays her role in the most natural and realistic way, yet we know the character was so NOT her. Ms. Vilma was already the lead star in her very first film, “Trudis Liit”! Incredibly, she was able to successfully dim her megawatt star power to appear inferior in stature to stars like Marian Rivera and Piolo Pascual who were the lead stars of the soap being shot, yet Ms. Vilma still manages to outshine them all. Her most effective scenes had no spoken lines at all. Ms. Cherie Gil was so deliciously campy good in her villainous Doña Beatriz character. Tart Carlos, more popularly known for her role as the ditsy maid Doris on TV’s “Be Careful With My Heart,” has a marked role playing Loida’s friend and co-extra, where her skills in comedy shone. Musical director Vincent de Jesus was very effective as the harried assistant director, scrambling to accomplish all the orders of the impatient director….” – Fred Hawson, ABS-CBN News, 29 July 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection:15th Rainbow Film Festival London, UK (May 25-June 1 2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…I was worried coming in that Ekstra was just going to be a less interesting version of 2011’s Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay. It turns out that the fears were unwarranted. The film takes a fairly different approach, following one extra (played by the inimitable Vilma Santos) as she goes through one whole day of being a talent on the set of a popular soap opera. The film is as much about the absurdities that go into the production of one of these shows as it is about its titular subject, spending a good chunk of its time railing against the rampant disregard for any sort of quality on these productions. The film ends up depicting a hierarchy of suffering, with the extras at the bottom rung of a seemingly endless ladder to an unknowable top. The film could probably stand to be a little shorter, perhaps a little more economical in its criticism of the industry. But it’s hard to complain when Jeturian’s satirical instincts are so on point, and Vilma Santos is so affecting…” – Philbert Ortiz Dy, Click The City, 30 July 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection:Southeast Asian Film Festival Singapore 11 April – 4 May 2014 – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…We laughed and guffawed at such acting antics, scenes both startling and familiar, stereotypical of TV soaps, with lines we have even come to memorize. But watch out for sly, self-referential moments. When Doris tries to discourage Loida from nursing dreams of eventual stardom, she makes mention of the “typical” talents who make it big in the biz: tall, fair with sharp noses. “But what about Nora Aunor?” asks Loida, to which Doris grants grudging assent. That the line is uttered by Vilma Santos, who for decades has been forced into a running competition against the “Superstar,” is all the more delicious. In fact, Jeturian, in an interview, admits that “Ekstra” could kick-start once more the legendary rivalry between the two. If so, I as a fan of both welcome such a development. As movie audiences we could be in for a rich and satisfying round of out-of-the-box roles for the still-reigning queens of local cinema…” – Rina Jimenez-David, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 19 Aug 2013 (READ MORE)

Special Screening:Honolulu Museum of Art Honolulu, Hawai Apr 4, 9, 15 2014 – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…In the Directors’ Showcase, Jerrold Tarog’s Sana Dati (literal translation is “Wish It Were Like Before”), swept eight awards, including Best Film and Best Director. Set during a wedding ceremony, a bride disappears to meet her previous true love. Although well crafted and having an interesting premise, I do not think it deserved that many awards. The other real contender in the section was Jeffrey Jeturian’s new film, Ekstra (Bit player), an enjoyable comedy, which paid a sympathetic homage to the shadow “bit players” (or extras) in TV soaps. The film was lifted by the emphatic character of Loida, which was nicely acted by super star Vilma Santos (now Governor of the Batangas province!). Ekstra grabbed the Special Jury prize, Best Actress (Vilma Santos, known as “Ate Vi”), Best Supporting Actress (Ruby Ruiz), and also the Netpac award for that section. The main Jury (Peque Gallaga, Carlitos Siguion Reyna, Ditsi Carolino from the Philippines, Maggie Lee from Hong Kong and Bastian Meiresonne from France) decided not to award the Best Actor prize this year…I have mixed feelings for this edition of Cinemalaya: films were of uneven quality; jury awards were not well distributed. I am glad the Audience awards were given to Ekstra (Directors’ Showcase), Transit (New Breed) and Taya (Shorts). Whatever may happen, Cinemalaya remains the most important cinematic event in the Philippines and all other subsequent festivals are only variations on the format (whether it be Cinema One, Sineng Pambansa, and now Cine Filipino, in September). Let’s just hope that Cinemalaya’s budget will not be shrinking further, as it is the case for many festivals in the world. That would endanger its very existence…” – Max Tessier, NETPAC Bureau, 01 September 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection:24° Edizione del Festival Cinema Africano, Asia e America Latina (May 6 – 12, 2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…Overall, I like this film. It didn’t feel dragging. It’s a very energetic film with a hilariously written script. The ending may feel abrupt as I felt that too. But after thinking about it for creative reasons, I think it’s the most fitting way to end the day of a bit player. Loida’s emotion alone in that scene summarizes it all. Verdict: With Vilma Santos and her lively supporting cast, you might find Ekstra something worthwhile to see…” – John Albert Villanueva, Orange Magazine (READ MORE)

Official Selection:40th Seattle International Film Festival (May 15 – June 8, 2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…It’s not easy being an extra. While vital to the authenticity to a filmed project—be it a movie, TV show, or music video—extras, or bit players, are regularly relegated to the sidelines, where they are subjugated, mistreated, underfed, and disrespected, working long hours without any promises of fame, fortune, or respectable paychecks. Such is the life of middle-aged single mother Loida (Vilma Santos), who has yet to catch her big break. Waking up at the crack of dawn, she and a dozen other extras pack themselves like sardines into a van and head out to a remote location shoot for the nightly TV soap opera “Nauna kang nagging Akin” (or “You Were Mine First”). Upon their arrival, they find the set in complete disarray, a frenzied circus of diva behavior, rain delays, and prop mishaps. Over the course of one very long shooting day, the behind-the-scenes chaos become as dramatic, if not more, than the soap opera unfolding before the cameras, but Loida, ever committed to her craft, discovers what could be a glimmer of hope in the form of a small, available speaking role. Santos, who ironically is a cinema megastar in her home country, gives one of the best performances of the Festival, imbuing Loida with a dogged tenacity lying just beneath the surface of her kind but world-weary visage. The film itself strikes a wonderful balance between a screwball showbiz comedy and a compassionate socio-realist drama about the exploitation of labor, equally harsh and hilarious…” – SIFF 2014 (READ MORE)

Official Selection:New Filipino Cinema 2014 YBCA (2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…Vilma Santos, the legendary grand dame of Philippine cinema, stars in this bittersweet comedy. A clever satire of the telenovela formula, The Bit Player tells the story of a group of extras on a soap opera, as they patiently wait to be cast as anonymous background actors or in tiny speaking roles. At the very bottom of the showbiz hierarchy (working extremely long hours for very little pay), these extras turn out to be far more dedicated to their work than the egotistical, unreliable stars who are highly paid and constantly fawned over…” – YBCA New Filipino Cinema 2014 (READ MORE)

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