Premiere Nights

Premiere Nights 1

Oh, it’s October, month of the “Holy Rosary!” Kay bilis malagas ng mga araw, hindi natin namamalayan, bagong taon na naman. Nagkakaedad na tayong lahat subali’t andito pa rin tayo…..humahanga pa rin kay Miss Vilma Santos. Kung sabagay, sabi nga nila, age is just a number, hehehe! Sa tinagal-tagal sa industriya ng pelikulang Pilipino ni Vilma, apatnapu at anim na taon na siya sa pelikula to be exact, kulang-kulang sa limang dekada ay hindi pa rin siya matinag sa kanyang kinalalagyan. Nagsilaho na ang kanyang mga kakontemporaryo. Nagsusulputan na ang mga bagong mukha subali’t parang bulalakaw na mabilis ding nawawala. Si Vilma ay andiyan pa rin…nagniningning pa rin ang kanyang bituin…tinitingala pa rin hindi lang bilang isang magaling na alagad ng sining kundi isa na ring mahusay na public servant. Pero kahit na nasa itaas siya ay nakatuntong pa rin siya sa lupa kaya naman lahat halos ng mga nangyayari sa kanya ay pulos positibo, kahit na minsan ay may mga taong bumabatikos sa kanya. Ipinagsasawalang kibo na lang niya ang mga ito, para que pa nga naman eh pampa-stress lang yan noh! At dahil diyan, siya pa rin ang Nag-iisang Bituin…nakakapag-demand ng mataas na talent fee sa kanyang mga pelikula at commercials na ginagawa. Siya pa rin ang “premiere actress” ng bansang Pilipinas. At yamang napapag-usapan ang kanyang pagiging “premiere actress” kung kaya’t balikan natin ang mga “premiere night” ng mga pelikula ni Governor Vilma Santos-Recto.

Noong araw, madalang ang mga pelikulang may “premiere night.” Ang mga sinehang pinagdarausan ng mga “premiere night” noon ay mga nangawala o nagsipagsara na katulad ng Galaxy Theater sa Avenida Rizal, Lyric Theater sa Escolta, Rizal at Magallanes Theater sa Makati City, New Frontier at Remar Theater sa Cubao, Quezon City at Gotesco Theater sa Recto Avenue, Quiapo, Manila. Nauso na ang mga “malls” na karaniwan ay may apat hanggang labingdalawang sinehan na pinagpapalabasan ng mga pelikula. Nilamon na ng mga sinehan sa mga naglalakihang malls ang mga lumang sinehan noon. Eh bakit pa nga ba ikaw manonood sa mga dating sinehan samantalang kung sa “mall” ka pupunta ay andun na lahat…..supermarket, department store, food court, amusement center at may mga shows pa. Ngayon…..halos lahat ng pelikulang tagalog ay may “premiere night”…..na karaniwan ay may mga nag-iisponsor at ito ay ginaganap sa mga sinehan sa mga malls. Pati ang mga digital films ay may “premiere night” na rin na sa UP Film Center ipinalalabas.

Ang pelikulang Pakawalan Mo Ako na ipinalabas noong Mayo 29, 1981 ay nag-premiere showing sa Lyric Theater at sponsored ito ng Catholic Women’s League Manila Chapter. Natandaan ko pa noon na ang pases na ginamit ko para manood ng pelikulang ito ay ibinigay lang sa akin ng isa kong kaopisinang tagahanga ni Nora Aunor. Eksaktong alas siyete ng gabi ito nagsimula. Walang artistang dumalo sa nasabing premiere night subali’t nang ito ay muling nag-premiere night sa Gotesco Theater ay talagang may mga nabasag na salamin sa lobby ng sinehan dahil sa pagkakagulo ng mga manonood. Si Vi ay hindi nakarating dahilan sa siya ay kapapanganak lamang kay Luis. Ang pelikulang ito kung saan si Elwood Perez ang naging direktor ay tinatampukan din nina Christopher de Leon at Anthony Castelo ay isa sa mga sumira ng takilya. Nakamit ni Vi ang pangalawang best actress award mula sa Famas sa pelikulang ito.

Nang mag-premiere night naman ang unang pelikula ni Vi sa Viva Films na Sinasamba Kita na idinerek ni Eddie Garcia ay talagang naging pandemonium. Ito ay ginanap sa New Frontier Theater, Cubao, Quezon City at nang makapasok na ang mga tao sa loob at magsisimula na ang pelikula ay nagkalat ang mga tsinelas sa lobby ng sinehan na naiwan ng mga tagahangang natapakan ng mga nais makapanood ng pelikula. Ito ay ipinalabas sa mga sinehan noong Agosto 19, 1982 at tinampukan din nina Christopher de Leon, Philip Salvador at Lorna Tolentino.

Sunud-sunod ang mga pelikula ni Vilma sa Viva Films na nagkaroon ng premiere night at katulad ng mga nauna ay nagkakagulo pa rin ang kanyang mga tagahanga. Ito ay ang mga pelikulang Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan? at Paano Ba Ang Mangarap? na sa New Frontier Theater din ginanap. Ang New Frontier Theater pala ay itinuturing na pinakamalaking sinehan sa buong Asia nang mga panahong yun. Ang Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan? na idinerek ni Danny L. Zialcita ay ipinalabas noong Nobyembre 11, 1982 at tinampukan din nina Dindo Fernando at Hilda Koronel…..samantalang ang Paano Ba Ang Mangarap? na idinerek naman ni Eddie Garcia ay ipinalabas noong Hunyo 9, 1983 at tinampukan din nina Christopher de Leon at Jay Ilagan.

Ang premiere night ng pelikulang Never Ever Say Goodbye ay sa Galaxy Theater naman ginanap. Bukod kay Vi ay dumalo din ang mga stars ng nasabing pelikula katulad nina Nonoy Zuñiga. Nagkaroon pa ng isang maliit na programa bago nag-umpisa ang pelikula. Ito ay ipinalabas sa mga sinehan noong Oktubre 7, 1982 sa direksiyon ni Gil Portes.

Sa Magallanes Theater ginanap ang premiere showing ng pelikulang tinatampukan ni Vi at ni Nora Aunor na T-Bird At Ako. Hindi dumalo ang dalawang lead stars ng pelikula, yung mga supporting stars lamang ang mga dumalo pati na rin ang prodyuser ng pelikula na si Irene Lopez. Si Danny L. Zialcita ang direktor ng pelikulang ito na ipinalabas noong Setyembre 2, 982 at tinampukan din nina Dindo Fernando at Tommy Abuel.

Sa Film Center sa Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City naman nag-premiere showing ang pelikula ng Mirick Films na inilahok sa 1982 Metro Manila Film Festival na Haplos. Kasama ni Vi sa pelikulang ito sina Christopher de Leon na nanalong best actor at Rio Locsin sa direksiyon ni Butch Perez. Hindi nakadalo si Vi at Boyet subali’t andun si Rio Locsin na kasama pa noon ang asawang si Al Tantay.

Premiere Nights 2Samantala, nagkaroon ng double screening sa loob lamang ng isang gabi sa Rizal Theater ang pelikulang Sister Stella L. Punung-puno ang dalawang screening at grabe ang naging reception ng mga tao. Umaatikabong palakpakan ang maririnig sa loob ng Rizal Theater nang matapos ang pelikula. Nakita kong dumalo doon sina German Moreno at Babette Villaroel. Palibhasa’y ang Rizal Theater ay malapit lang sa Forbes Park, Bel-Air, Dasmariñas Village at San Lorenzo kung kaya’t karamihan sa mga nanood ay mga alta sosyedad. Sosyal talaga ang pelikula at ito lang yata ang pelikulang pinapalakpakan ng mga tao pagkatapos ng screening, maging ng mga class C, D at E. Nagkaroon din ng mga special screening ang pelikulang ito ni Mike de Leon sa iba’t ibang paaralan ng Metro Manila. Di nga ba’t isa si NEDA Secretary Ralph Recto na nanood nito na noon ay estudyante pa lang? Inilabas ito sa mga sinehan noong Hulyo 12, 1983 at napanalunan ng pelikulang ito sa Urian ang halos lahat ng awards sa iba’t ibang kategorya kabilang na ang tatlong taong sunud-sunod na best actress award ni Vi.

Ang una’t huling pelikula ni Vilma sa Via Hoffman Films na Tagos Ng Dugo ay nag-premiere night sa New Frontier Theater din. Bago pa dumating si Vi ay halos isara na ng mga guwardiya ang pintuan ng sinehan dahilan sa hindi na nila ma-accomodate ang napakaraming taong manonood. Nang dumating si Vi ay agad sinimulan ang pelikula. Sa loge ng sinehan naupo si Vi at ang kanyang mga co-stars. Nang matapos ang pelikula at magbukas ang ilaw ay walang humpay sa pagkaway si Vi sa mga taong nasa ibaba ng sinehan. Ang mga taong nanood ay walang pagod sa kasisigaw sa pagtawag kay Vi. Ang pelikulang ito na idinerek ni Maryo J. de los Reyes ay nag-regular showing sa mga sinehan noong Enero 25, 1987. Sa pelikulang ito natamo ni Vi ang ikaapat na best actress award sa Famas at pangalawa naman niya sa Catholic Mass Media Award.

Ang pelikulang tinampukan ni Vi kasama sina Tonton Gutierrez, Ricky Davao at Cherrie Gil na may pamagat ng Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-ibig? ay sa Rizal Theater din nag-premiere showing. Sobrang dami ding tao ang nanood palibhasa’y dito noon ginaganap ang Vilma Show nang panahong yun. Ang pelikulang ito na idinerek ni Eddie Garcia ay ipinalabas sa mga sinehan noong Setyembre 2, 1987. Dito sa pelikulang ito nanalo si Tonton Gutierrez ng kanyang best actor award mula sa Catholic Mass Media Award at Star Awards for Movies. Si Eddie Garcia ay nanalo ring best director mula sa iba’t ibang award giving bodies.

Ang true-to-life story ni Dolzura Cortez na pinamagatang Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story ay sa New Frontier Theater nag-premiere night. Dumalo sa nasabing premiere showing ang dating Secretary of Health na naging senador na si Flaviano Javier na umaming isang Vilmanian siya. Ito ang kauna-unahang pelikulang tumatalakay sa isang taong may AIDS (Acute Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Ito ay inilahok ng Octo Arts Films sa Manila Film Festival kung saan nasungkit ni Vi ang best actress award. Ito ay sa direksiyon ni Laurice Guillen. Nakamit din ni Vi ang kanyang pangalawang grand slam sa pelikulang ito.

Sa Greenhills Theater naman nag-premiere showing ang pelikulang Nag-iisang Bituin na bukod kay Vi ay tinampukan din nina Christopher de Leon, Aga Muhlach at ng isa ring Vilmanian na si Jao Mapa. Ito ang unang pelikula ni Vi kay Jose Javier Reyes na nag-regular showing noong Agosto 31, 1994. Isa sa mga sponsors ng pelikulang ito, kung saan si Vi ang endorser, ay ang Eskinol Facial kung saan namahagi sila sa pamamagitan ng paghahagis ng maliliit na bote ng Eskinol sa mga taong manonood. Isa sa mga Vis na nanood ay aksidenteng tinamaan sa mata subali’t ito ay kanilang ipinagamot.

Ang pelikulang pinagsamahan nina Vi, Gabby Concepcion, Aga Muhlach at Aiko Melendez na may pamagat na Sinungaling Mong Puso ay nag-premiere night sa Gotesco Theater. Tulad ng dati, nagkabasag-basag na naman ang mga salamin sa lobby ng sinehan. Nang mag-regular showing na ang pelikulang ito sa mga sinehan noong Agosto 27, 1993 ay bumabagyo at binaha pa ang ibang sinehang pinaglabasan ng nasabing pelikula subali’t super blockbuster pa din ito quesehodang nakababad ang mga paa ng ibang taong nanood. Ang pelikulang ito ay idinerek ni Maryo J. de los Reyes. Dito nagwagi si Aga ng best actor award at si Gabby naman ay best supporting actor.

Sa Remar Theater naman nag-premiere night ang pelikulang tinampukan nina Vi, Cesar Montano at Ronnie Ricketts na Ikaw Lang sa direksyon ni Chito Roño. Hindi magkamayaw ang mga tao nang dumating ang mga lead stars. Ang pelikulang ito ay ipinalabas sa mga sinehan noong Enero 12, 1994.

Ang pelikula tungkol sa OFW na Anak ay nag-premiere showing sa dalawang sinehan ng SM Megamall. Hindi mahulugang karayom ang mga taong nanood ng nasabing pelikula. Dumating ang mga lead stars ng pelikula at talagang walang katapusang tilian at sigawan ang mga fans sa loob ng sinehan habang pinapanood ang nasabing pelikula. Ipinalabas ang pelikulang ito noong May 12, 2000 sa kasagaran ng mga bomb threats subali’t hindi ito naging hadlang para hindi pasukin ng tao ang pelikula. Ito na yata ang pelikulang pinilahan ng husto sa takilya. Ang pelikulang ito ay sa direksiyon ni Rory Quintos at dito muling nabigyan si Vi ng box-office queen award kahit na hall of famer na siya. Nanalo din si Vi ng best actress award mula sa Star Awards for Movies at Pasado. Ang pelikulang ito din ang nanalong best film ng Catholic Mass Media Awards.

Nagkaroon ng ilang linggong exhibit sa lobby ng Robinson’s Galeria noong December 2002 ang pelikulang Dekada ’70. Mga damit, sapatos at iba’t ibang aksesorya noong dekada ’70 ang naka-display sa exhibit. Ang premiere showing naman nito sa isang sinehan ng Robinson’s Galeria ay dinaluhan nina Charo Santos, Malou Santos, Chito Roño at ang mga stars ng pelikula na sina Vi, Boyet, Piolo Pascual, Marvin Agustin, Carlos Agassi, John Wayne Sace at Danilo Barrios. Dumalo din si Marilou Diaz Abaya at panay ang bati niya sa mga stars at direktor ng pelikula. Dito sa pelikulang ito nasungkit ni Vi ang kanyang pang-apat na grand slam.

Sinabi noon ni Mother Lily Monteverde na ang final Mano Po movie ay itong pelikula nina Vi at Boyet na panlaban nila sa 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival na Mano Po 3 My Love, subali’t hindi ito nangyari dahil may mga sumunod na Mano Po pa. Nagkaroon ng red carpet premiere night ang nasabing pelikula sa SM Megamall. Dumalo ang mga stars ng pelikula na sina Vi, Boyet, Angel Locsin, Karylle, Dennis Trillo, Angelica Panganiban, Carlo Aquino, Jay Manalo, Boots Anson Roa, Eddie Garcia, Patrick Garcia, John Pratts at iba pa. Nanalong best actress at best actor sina Vi at Boyet. Nanalo ring best picture ang pelikula ganundin ang best float. Ito ang unang directorial job ni Joel Lamangan kay Vilma. Nanalo din si Vi ng best actress award mula sa Star Awards for Movies, Gawad Tanglaw at Gawad Suri.

Sa kabuuan, ang lahat ng “premiere night” na pelikula ng tinaguriang “premiere actress” ng bansa ay talagang malaking tagumpay. Panalong-panalo talaga!!!. – Alfonso Valencia (READ MORE)

Premiere Nights 3Unprecedented Stella L Premiere – Kung ang batayan ay ang premiere night ng Sister Stella L na ginanap sa Rizal theater noong June 22, sigurado nang dudumugin nang masa ang pelikulang ito ni Mike De Leon kapag regula showing na ito sa commercial theaters. Talaga namang very, very successful ang nasabing premiere night at ayon nga sa mga nakakaalam, never in the history of local cinema na ang isang pelikula’y dalawa ang screenings sa premiere showing at parehong SRO. Obviously, maraming A-B crowd nung gabing ‘yon, tulad ng grupo ni Chona Kasten na namataan namin, pero marami ring mga manggagawa at mga miyembro ng iba’t ibang sektaryang pang relihiyon. Ang nag-isponsor ng premiere night na ‘yon ay ang The Organization for the Promotion of Church People’s Right/Response (PCPR). Ang Sister Stella L na pelikula ng Regal Films ay ipapaplabas umpisa sa July 14. – Movie Flash Magazine, July 12 1984

Paano malalaman kung magiging malakas sa takily ang isang pelikula? Isa sa mga sukatan ang premiere ngiht. Hangga’t maari’y ayaw ng ibang produser na magpa-premiere night. Usually kasi, may nag-iisponsor nito, at sa kanila, sa charity – kung tutoo mang sa charity – napupunta ang bayad sa takilya. At siyempre pa, dahil premiere night ekstra ang halaga ng tiket, P25 sa orkestra, P50-100 sa balcony at loge. Bukod sa malaking kawalan din yon sa produser sa regular run ng pelikula, puewede pang mapintas-pintasan ito, at pag kumalat iyon, bagsak ang pelikula! Sa isang dako, kung gustong makatulong ng produser sa charity, at kung sampalataya siya sa kanyang pelukula, mainam magpa-premiere night para higit na maipaalam sa lahat na maganda ito. Iyon ang nasa isip ni Mother Lily nang ipa-premiere night ang “Sister Stella L.” sa Rizal theater sa Makati. Umbrella organization ng mga madre ang nag-isponsor ng premiere night, dalawang screening iyon. Umuulan nang gabing iyon, pero dagsa pa rin ang mga tao. Siksikan. Gayunpama’y disiplinado. Marami rin kasi sa mga ito ang mga madre. Kung karaniwan nang umaasa pa rin sa walk-in ang ibang nagpapa-premiere night, iba naman ang nangyari sa “Sister Stella L.”

Bago pa ang first screening, dakong alas sinko-medya, sold out na ang tiket. Nakikiusap na talaga ang mga hindi nakabili ng tiket na bibili sila, pero ubos na. Dumating doon ang ina ng tunay na Sister Stella L. “No, my daughter is not an activist, she only wanted to help the needy,” sabi nito. Sa kasalukuya’y nasa abroad daw ito, nagtungo roon pagkaraang lumabas mula sa pagkaka-detain ng 11 months sa isang militar camp. Mula sa siyuting ng “Alyas Baby Tsina,” dumating si Vilma Santos. Kagulo sa kanya ang mga tao sa lobby. Magkasabay na pumasok sina Gina Alajar at Michael De Mes, at naisip namin, mali nga ‘ata ‘yung balitang nagkahiwalay sila. Very, very successful ang premiere night na iyon. Katunayan, gusto pa itong masundan ng isang labor sector, tumanggi na lang si Mother Lily. “They will give me raw three hundred thousand, but I said no. Paano naman ang regular run ko?” – Bibsy Estrella (READ MORE)

“…The Bicol Festival Foundation, in cooperation with Philtanco, is sponsoring the movie premiere of the film Saan Nagtatago ang Pag-ibig?, tonight at 7:30, at the Rizal Theatre in Makati. The movie, directed by Eddie Garcia, stars by Eddie Garcia, stars Vilma Santos, Gloria Romero, Ricky Davao, Cherie Gil, Alicia Vergel and Tonton Gutierrez. The Bicol Festival Foundation is headed by Justice Francis F. Gachitorena of the Sandiganbayan. Film director Garcia who is a Bicolano himself has offered this latest Vilma Santos starrer to the Bicolanos, many of whom have been devastated by typhoon Herming a few weeks ago. He said, ‘This is my little contribution in the Bicolano’s who will be celebrating the Penafrancia Festival next month.” The Bicolanos in Manila will hold teh Grand Bicolandia Festival from September 7-13 at the Manila Garden Hotel in Makati and many activities have been schedule to drum up support for the plight of the Bicolanos in the provinces. Tickets are available a the theater gate at Visual Horizons with telephone no. 815-0024 or Philtranco at telephone no. 833-7180…” – Manila Standard, Sep 01 1987 (READ MORE)

LATEST NEWS - Premiere Night Jul 25 2012 3The Healing’s Premiere Night – “…The entire cast of “The Healing,” led by multi-awarded actress and Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos and young actress Kim Chiu, arrived together, wearing red outfits and flashing smiles to fans who attended the event. Santos was escorted by her husband Senator Ralph Recto. Before the movie was screened, Santos said she is truly proud of this movie because she and the rest of the cast really worked hard to make it beautiful. “We’re all very excited and we would like to thank each and everyone of you for joining us in the premiere night of ‘The Healing.’ Pinamamalaki po naming lahat ito dahil pinagpaguran namin,” she said. Santos said she is hoping moviegoers would enjoy the film and feel scared at the same time. Among the celebrities who attended the premiere night were Piolo Pascual, Maja Salvador, Matteo Guidicelli and Robi Dominggo. Chiu’s former boyfriend Gerald Anderson was also there as well as actor Xian Lim, who is currently being linked to her…The Healing was graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board and it opens in theaters nationwide today, July 25…” – ABS-CBN News (READ MORE)

LATEST NEWS - July 2013 Ekstra Gala 1Eksta’s Premiere Night – “…As early as 5:00 p.m., people were already queuing for the 6:15 screening. The line became longer in just a few minutes, while other people were excitedly awaiting the arrival of Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto. The Vilmanians were hoping to get a glimpse of their idol enter the Main Theater. The celebrities started arriving, which made the task of containing the crowd a little difficult for the ushers. But they politely obliged when they were asked to clear the area leading to the Main Theater. When the signal was given that the moviegoers could now enter the theater, the people dashed toward the main entrance, hoping to be the first to get inside. This could have been a scene straight from Philippine cinema’s classic eras, such as the pre-martial law Manila film festivals. And the star of the night was a veteran performer with 5 decades in the industry. Vilma said the premiere erased her apprehensions about venturing into independent cinema for the first time. “Yung pinaka-reception kanina, yun na ang pinaka-bayad namin (The reception was already the reward).” Jeturian was a PA (production assistant) in the 1984 production of Marilou Diaz Abaya’s “Alyas Baby Tsina.” Vilma was the star of that film, and Jeturian remembers already dreaming of becoming a filmmaker at the time…” – Rappler (READ MORE)

2002 Best Actress Awards

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Novel to Film “…”Dekada ’70,” the eagerly awaited filmization of Lualhati Bautista’s seminal novel in the explosive ’80s, has eight nominations. Best director nominee Chito Rono successfully focuses the novel’s many-sided dimensions on a mother’s stirring from domestic conventions and sensibilities as her family copes with the changes wrought by a collapsing order. The movie, written by Bautista herself and nominated for best screenplay, manages to provides viewers, particularly the young, with the feel of the Marcos years, reacquainting them with a particularly sordid passage in history when innocence was ravaged and continuity was ruptured. The wonder is that the movie did not get the lion’s share of the technical design (Manny Morfe), and sound (Albert Michael Idioma and Alex Tomboc) – should at least suggest its achievement. Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon are strong contenders for best actor and best actress, while yound actor Piolo Pascual is nominated for best supporting actor. The 26th Gawad Urian of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, the society of respected film critics, will be held on May 17 at the AFP Theater…” – Lito B. Zulueta, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 28, 2003 (READ MORE)

The Light “…Topping the Urian for surprise value was the join award for Best Picture to “Dekada ’70” and “Mga Munting Tinig,” This was unexpected because “Dekada” was a major production that took many months to make, while “Munting Tinig” was a small low-budget film that was shot in only a few weeks. Despite this, both films were cited as the best local movies for 2002. A possible interpretation of the twin awards could be “Dekada” is cited for tackling asn important period in the country;s political life with extensive resources of a major studio, while “Munting Tinig” is honored for its ability to dramatize a simple, heartwarming tale that provides much-needed inspiration, despite its limited budget. In other words, the two films’ contrasting approaches are both needed by local movies today, hence the decision for them to share the Urian’s Best Picture award…The Best Actress trophy that Vilma Santos won for her performance in “Dekada ’70” is another noteworthy decision because, when the film was first shown, even veteran observers rapped Vilma for her relatively “passive,” “colorless” and “undramatic” portrayal in the movie. This was because her character, the wife and mother in the movie’s central Bartolome family, spent most of the film’s running time meekly following her husband’s dictates, like most women in the ’70s. Some people took this as a weak thespic stance, and we had to point out in some articles taht his wasn’t true at all. In fact, given the convention of the movie’s time frame, this “passivity” was an astute artistic decision on Vilma’s part, and thoroughly merited by her character and the period in which she lived. In fact, what Vilma did in “Dekada” was more difficult because it was so controlled and subtle, it would have been far easier for her to melodramatically tear up the scenery and act up a storm. Gratifyingly, by the time the film awards season came around, enough people has seen the light, and Vilma went on to win a phalanx of Best Actress trophies, now including the Urian…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer – May 24, 2003 (READ MORE)

Anak natin si Piolo? “…Gawad Urian best supporting actor Piolo Pascual (“Dekada ’70”) arrived early at the awards ceremony Saturday night and reserve a seat for “Dekada ’70” costar Vilma Santos, who would later be declared best actress. Vilma and Piolo played mother and son in the moving Chito Rono movie based on the screenplay by Lualhati Bautista, who won for best screenplay. Piolo was very affectionate to “mom” Vilma, hugging and kissing her when she arrived. He was seen clasping her hands moments before his name was announced as best supporting actor at theTeatro Arturo Enrile in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City…The movie critics’ group paid tribute to writer Ricardo “Ricky” Lee by naming him the recipient of the Natatnging Gawad for lifetime achievement for his invaluable contributions to the film industry for more than three decades. The award was handed to him by three of the many actresses who breathed life to his creations – Vilma (“Relasyon”), Dina Bonnevie (“Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak”) and Gina Alajar (“Salome”). Lee has so far written about 120 screenplays and won some 50 awards. His most recent work, Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s “Bagong Buwan,” was honored by many local and international award-giving bodies…Edu Manzano was very effective as the show’s only host. He kept the audience awake and laughing with his witty remarks, delivered with his trademark deadpan expression. Even Piolo and Vilma were not spared from Edu’s jokes. he imitated Piolo after the young actor delivered a very emotional acceptance speech. When Vilma said she was sharing her award with her costars in “Dekada ’70,” particularly to her “eldest son” Piolo, the camera caught Edu having his own dramatic highlights.” “What?” he asked his ex-wife in mock surprise, “Anak natin si Piolo?…” – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 20, 2003 (READ MORE)

Star Awards “…Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos still gets the jitters when accepting acting awards. She bested five other equally worthy nominees to the best actress throne in last Saturday’s Star Awards for Movies at the UP Theatre. She won for her moving portrayal of a timid mother empowered by the death of her son in Chito Rono’s period drama, “Dekada ’70,” which was an official entry in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) last December. Ironically, Ara Mina, who edged out Vilma from the best actress derby in the MMFF, was not among those cited by Star Awards. Vilma competed with Sharon Cuneta (“Magkapatid”), Maricel Soriano (“Mano Po”), Claudine Baretto (“Kailangan Kita”), and Alessandra de Rossi (“Mga Munting Tinig”)…” – Marinel R. Cruiz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 11, 2003 (READ MORE)

FILM REVIEW: DEKADA ’70 2/2

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For Film Review: Dekada ’70 1/2 CLICK HERE

The Plot: – Dekada 70 is a story of a family caught in the midst of a tumultuous time in Philippine history – the martial law years. Amanda (Vilma Santos) and Julian (Christopher Deleon) is a picture of a middle class couple with conservative ideologies, who must deal with raising their children, five boys – Jules (Piolo Pascual), Isagani (Carlos Agassi), Emmanuel (Marvin Agustin), Jason (Danilo Barrios) and Bingo (John Sace) in an era marked by passion, fear, unrest and social chaos. As siblings struggle to accept the differences of their ideologies, as a father faces the painful dissent of his children, a mother’s love will prove to be the most resonant in the unfolding of this family’s tale, will awaken to the needs of her own self, as she embarks on a journey of discovery to realize who she is as a wife, amother, a woman and a Filipino. – Star Cinema

The Reviews: True Gift – “…For these reasons, we believe that Vilma’s character in “Dekada ’70” is the female lead, while Ara’s role in “Mano Po” is a supporting player. This is because “Mano Po” is an “ensemble” film, with not just one of two but many members of the central family involved in various ways in slowly and painfully reorienting the Chinese family’s attitudes and actions in relations to Filipinos and to the Philippines, where the family lives, works, and has 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 vaious 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 her character as the wife and mother was in the ’70s. Her thematic and emotional hight points towards the end of the film rivetting, but it was her quieter, more controleed 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 U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan 14, 2003 (READ MORE)

Speak-up – “…We really wish that viewers take a more personal interest in this controversy, make up their own minds, and verbalize their opinions. You see, if films people complain, they can always be accused of being sore losers. If reviewers take a stand, they can be suspected of subjectively favoring either one of the top contenders. But if viewers speak up, they can’t be accused of having a hidden agenda. And if a clear majority of them favors one film, that can be taken as the collective voice of the movie audience, for whose benefit all of these “quality” films are supposed to ahve been made, in the first place. A final word, this time on the Vilma Santos-Ara Mina competition in the filmfest best actress category. When Ara was adjudged winner, we thought she should more properly have won in the best supporting actress category. And when we saw “Dekada ’70,” we knew that Vilma fully deserved to win as best actress. Ara’s performance was outstanding, but Vilma’s was in a league all its own, the sterling product not only of her talent, but also of her long experience as an actress. With her new maturity, she’s even better than she was in most of her award-winning starrers, and all that Ara Mina needs to do is to watch Vilma in “Dekada ’70” to concede that, although she did well in “Mano Po,” Vilma has clearly outdistanced her in Chito Rono’s film…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan 05, 2003 (READ MORE)

Humanity’s Liberation – How does one outlive the monstrosity of the Martial Law years and how do we pose the relevance of such question now when we tend to be indifferent and apathetic to events going on, both here and around the globe? The film “Dekada ’70” raises such issue and concers. Like the monster it tries to exorcise, the film spawns more question for anyone who continues oneself in relation to others and to a contemporary reality. Upon watching “Dekada ’70,” one gets the impressive things haven’t changed that much since then and that we are still suffering post-traumatic syndrome of the seventies malaise. We wonder then, what went wrong after two EDSA revolutions? There’s no effective way of depicting such reckoning than by way of story and thus, the master storyteller herself, Lualhati Bautista, frames “Dekada ’70” conveniently from mother’s point of view, Amanda Bartolome’s, whose coming, into terms with the problems of child rearing, domesticity and sexual relations become the very venues for articulating change and advocacy in our political and collective life. Amanda herself becomes the point of departure for our reading. Her questions and doubts about her femininity specifically her role as a mother to Jules, Gani, Em, Jason and Bingo, and as wife to Julian, are subsumed in thelarger context of our socio-political discourse today. We are not just simply sympathizing with her, but instead we see her struggles as constitutive of whatever far future history has in store for all of us – men, women, gays or lesbians. In other words, Amanda’s liberation is the humanity’s liberation and no genuine emancipation can be realized nor revolutions are complete if a person like her still remains in thedark. Her nurturing hands shall also be the symbolic raised fists against any imminent danger. Where do we trace Amanda’s oppression and concomitant silencing? First, she cannot relate to her husband’s circle of friends. In one scene, she attempts to join a discussion about poetry but only to be repudiated in return.

Khalil Gibran – Second, she notices how her relationship to Julian is quite uneven. One time, Julian asks her to reprimand their kid’s lewd singing. She hesitates and tells him there’s nothing wrong with the song. However, when she has heard her husband humming the same song to her, she feels wronged and insulted. This is one of those incidents when one sees Amanda’s relationship with Julian seems disproportionate with regard to what one says to one another for instance and in such situations, Amanda has no choice but to remain silent and kepp her feelings for herself. She will have to adjust to Julian. Thus, Amanda learns to shut up even during dinnertime when her husband talks. In one scene, Julian talks about how they were seduced by the girls and Amanda’s face bears all the marks of insult and humiliation. Amanda’s alienation further manifests in her relationship with Jules, her eldest son who become an NPA agent. The fact that Jules becomes an NPA is already difficult for her to hear. She cannot understand why Jules will have to go away from her. One time, Jules wrote his brother Gani a letter in which he quotes a poem from Khalil Gibran, saying the sons of light do not belong to their mothers. Amanda, upon hearing what Jules wrote, gets hurt. She tries to communicate her feelings to no avail. Her family fails to answer her adequately. Her yearning will only be accomodated at the turn of the events in the country when her son Jules will be one of those political prisoners who will be tortured and Jason will be brutally murdered for no apparent reason by unknown assailants. Amanda cries for justice and when she confronts her husband that they should do something, she learns from him that they are helpless against a fascist oppressive state. Summary executions have been rampant in the country at that time and this only confirms Amanda’s worst nightmares. We learn Amanda’s silence is indeed a symptom of the state’s machinery control and the Bartolome family function as an ideological apparatus in which other institutions like the Church and the school remain subservient to the state in order to perpetuate fascists’ interests and agenda.

Self-worth – For Amanda, her oppression take the form of the myth of motherhood and limited domestic functions, and thus, she cannot get an answer why she has to go to bed with her husband, in the same way that she cannot go to courts to demand justice for her sons. How does Amanda outlive the monstrosity of that decade? We see in the film how the Bartolome family is not only the stake but also the site of struggle and often of bitter forms of Amanda’s struggle. She finds means and occasions of expressing dissatisfaction within the family and outside as she allies with the rest of the exploited. In one poignant scene, she consoles her husband that they should cry together out of desperatin. She believes there is strength in togetherness. Their vulnerability is the source of Amanda’s power. Utilizing such contradiction, Amanda learns the painful way of discovering her agency, potential and power to direct the family’s state of affairs and contribute to the political stabilization of the country. When her youngest son, Bingo, asks her if ever the pigeons will come back to them, Amanda says they will. She knows both the pigeons and her sons will come back home to her. Her struggles are not yet over and thus the film ends with a beginning, her longing for home. By the same token, we, like Amanda, are also called to respond to the challenge of our contemporary reality. We must seek out also our potential and use the very instrument of oppression against our oppressors to articulate dissent and resistance. We shall not cease from taking active participation in politics because our conditin must be one of continued striving and restless dissatisfaction; a condition more of discenment than complacency to possess the only kind of self-worth of which we can best be at home ultimately. – Gary C. Devilles, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan 08, 2003 (READ MORE)

Restraints – So shoot me. Chito Rono’s “Dekada ’70,.” this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival’s second best picture, is tops for me. Not because I like thedecade and danced to it’s music and gave my mother the same Kahlil Gibran poem about your children not being your children but the sons and daughters of the universe – something like that – which figured in the movie, and fleshed out the pain in Vilma Santos’ mother role. It was one of the most powerful moment in the film, full of undertones and unabashed celebrations fro surviving the most tumultuous decade of the last centure. In that scene, a stoic Amanda Bartolome (Vilma), mother of five boys (Piolo Pascual, Carlos Agassi, Marvin Agustin, Danilo Barrios, John Wayne Sace) and wife of a chauvinist (Christopher de Leon) was cleaning the room of her eldest son Jules (Pascual), who had gone underground, so that her other son Jason (Barrios) could move into it. Jules had sent her mother the Kahlil Gibran poem. With Jason rejoicing in the background, Amanda mubles, “Hindi ko naman daw anak, nagdaan lang naman sa akin, (He is not my son, he just passed through me).” This was the moment of Amanda’s acceptance of Jules convictins, even if she still could not reconcile her role in the changing landscape of her universe. Despite its title, “Dekada ’70” is not all about political activism. It’s about a woman’s struggle to become more than a wife and a mother. It’s wife and a mother. It’s about finding a career and about being proud of herself. It’s about Vilma Santos playing her age in a movie, and defying the harsh lights and theunforgiving close-ups. With the events of the ’70s intruding into her family’s life, Amanda comes to terms with herself and her losses. As usual, Rono has brought out the best his performaers. Restraint was all over the movie: From Christopher, who could not cry despite the death of a son, to Vilma, who kept her discontent in her heart, to the actors who played their sons and in whom you would see a brother, a boyfriend, a husband, a professor, a managing editor.

Martial Law – The Bottomline is that they are husband and wife, and why shouldn’t they laugh and cry together in the end. Lualhati Bautista, who wrote the novel in which the movie was based, had drawn from characters whom she had known in the ’70s, like the salvage victim whose body was found at the back of the Ramada Hotel in Ermita, the disappeared professor-activist Charlie Del Rosario, according to Rono. The torture scenes of Jules when he was caught by the military were based on an actual documented case, he said. “I interviewed people who lived through the torture, like the mother whose son was shot in the stomach and was tortured by soldiers by poking the barrel of a long gun into the wound and stirring his intestines with it,” he said. “That was how the mother described it to me and it was in Hati’s dialogue.” Rono, too, is faily acquainted with the decade and with the generals who were in power. His father, the late Jose S. Rono, was Ferdinand Marcos’ deputy prime minister. “I was in high school when Martial law was proclaimed,” he recalled. “At that time, we were in Samar and my father was governor. I remember that while we were watching Marcos on TV, I asked my father what Martial Law meant. “My father, even if he was a lawyer, did not know much what it meant. The first thing he did was meet with the mayors and they talked among themselves.” The next day, soldiers arrived in their house to pick up his father. “I was scared. He was carrying his leather bag where you could fit in two pairs of pants. He waived at me so I thought it was fine.” His mother Carol explained to him that Marcos had called, asking for his father’s service in the new society the strongman would create. “Dekada ’70” might not be the ultimate film about the ’70s, but it is Rono’s vision of a world that was flawed, awesome, even frightening but never to be forgotten. “It was my time,” he said. And mine. – Nini Valera, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan 02, 2003 (READ MORE)

Dilemma – Actress and Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos is torn between showbiz and politics. The taping of her 40th anniversary special last Wednesday had to be postponed, following her dilemma about Republic Act 7160, which prohibits public officials from appearing on TV and doing movies. “I was told the law has been existing for a long time now, but I only found out about it after the Manila Film Festival,” discloses Vilma, who starred in Chito Rono’s period drama, “Dekas ’70,” one of the official filmfest entries. “I am not familiar about the law, so I want to know its exact definition and clarify it first before I start working again. That’s my dilemma now.” Vilma’s TV special was schedulred to be aired on ABS-CBN this Sunday, but the telecast has been postponed indefinitely until Vilma can get the green light to work. “I don’t want to start anything only to be prohibited in the middle of my work,” Vilma says. “Of worse, they might even file a case against me.” Vilma has a dialouge with the ABS-CBN executives, who signed her up for the TV spcial. “I had to request them to postpone the airing until I can get a clear interpretation of that law,” Vilma says. “Even if I make a movie, I want to be sure if it’s possible and I will be allowed. “But according to the Local Governament code, a public official can take a leave of absence for three months, like what (Caloocan City Mayor) Rey Malonzo did, so he could do a movie, Kung talagang hindi puede, I have no choice but to follow the law. Integrity is very important to me.” Vilma insists she doesn’t agree with RA 7160, prohibiting showbiz stars-turned-politicians from doing TV or movie work. “For me, there’s no conflict of interest there,” Vilma explains. “We can work on weekends or after our daily jobs in our public offices.” She is bent, however, on finishing her second term as Lipa City Mayor. “Then maybe after that, I can just make a choice if it’s really show biz or politics.” – Leah Salterio, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Feb 14, 2003 (READ MORE)

RELATED READING:

2002 Best Actress Awards

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Novel to Film “…”Dekada ’70,” the eagerly awaited filmization of Lualhati Bautista’s seminal novel in the explosive ’80s, has eight nominations. Best director nominee Chito Rono successfully focuses the novel’s many-sided dimensions on a mother’s stirring from domestic conventions and sensibilities as her family copes with the changes wrought by a collapsing order. The movie, written by Bautista herself and nominated for best screenplay, manages to provides viewers, particularly the young, with the feel of the Marcos years, reacquainting them with a particularly sordid passage in history when innocence was ravaged and continuity was ruptured. The wonder is that the movie did not get the lion’s share of the technical design (Manny Morfe), and sound (Albert Michael Idioma and Alex Tomboc) – should at least suggest its achievement. Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon are strong contenders for best actor and best actress, while yound actor Piolo Pascual is nominated for best supporting actor. The 26th Gawad Urian of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, the society of respected film critics, will be held on May 17 at the AFP Theater…” – Lito B. Zulueta, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 28, 2003 (READ MORE)

The Light “…Topping the Urian for surprise value was the join award for Best Picture to “Dekada ’70” and “Mga Munting Tinig,” This was unexpected because “Dekada” was a major production that took many months to make, while “Munting Tinig” was a small low-budget film that was shot in only a few weeks. Despite this, both films were cited as the best local movies for 2002. A possible interpretation of the twin awards could be “Dekada” is cited for tackling asn important period in the country;s political life with extensive resources of a major studio, while “Munting Tinig” is honored for its ability to dramatize a simple, heartwarming tale that provides much-needed inspiration, despite its limited budget. In other words, the two films’ contrasting approaches are both needed by local movies today, hence the decision for them to share the Urian’s Best Picture award…The Best Actress trophy that Vilma Santos won for her performance in “Dekada ’70” is another noteworthy decision because, when the film was first shown, even veteran observers rapped Vilma for her relatively “passive,” “colorless” and “undramatic” portrayal in the movie. This was because her character, the wife and mother in the movie’s central Bartolome family, spent most of the film’s running time meekly following her husband’s dictates, like most women in the ’70s. Some people took this as a weak thespic stance, and we had to point out in some articles taht his wasn’t true at all. In fact, given the convention of the movie’s time frame, this “passivity” was an astute artistic decision on Vilma’s part, and thoroughly merited by her character and the period in which she lived. In fact, what Vilma did in “Dekada” was more difficult because it was so controlled and subtle, it would have been far easier for her to melodramatically tear up the scenery and act up a storm. Gratifyingly, by the time the film awards season came around, enough people has seen the light, and Vilma went on to win a phalanx of Best Actress trophies, now including the Urian…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer – May 24, 2003 (READ MORE)

Star Awards “…Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos still gets the jitters when accepting acting awards. She bested five other equally worthy nominees to the best actress throne in last Saturday’s Star Awards for Movies at the UP Theatre. She won for her moving portrayal of a timid mother empowered by the death of her son in Chito Rono’s period drama, “Dekada ’70,” which was an official entry in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) last December. Ironically, Ara Mina, who edged out Vilma from the best actress derby in the MMFF, was not among those cited by Star Awards. Vilma competed with Sharon Cuneta (“Magkapatid”), Maricel Soriano (“Mano Po”), Claudine Baretto (“Kailangan Kita”), and Alessandra de Rossi (“Mga Munting Tinig”)…” – Marinel R. Cruiz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 11, 2003 (READ MORE)

Actress-Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos, new actor Yul Servo, and the independent film, “Mga Munting Tinig,” proved that the local movie industry recognizes talent and good films, veteran or newcomer, when they bagged top honors at the 19th Star Awards for the Movies held last Saturday night at the UP Theater in Diliman, Quezon City. Santos was named “Movie Actress of the Year” for her role as a mother who experienced awakening during the ’70s turmoil in “Dekada ’70.” Santos, one of the country’s most awarded actresses, admitted she still feels the tension from the announcement of nominees to the winner. “Nakakakaba pa rin po hanggang ngayon (I still feel nervous even now),” she said in her acceptance speech. Meanwhile, newcomer Yul Servo was named “Movie Actor of the Year” for playing a young husband subjected to extreme culture shock when he finds life hard in a Manila suburb in the controversial movie, “Laman.” The rest of the major trophies went to Gil Portes, “Movie Director of the Year” for “Munting Tinig;” Piolo Pascual, “Movie Supporting Actor of the Year” for “Dekada ’70”; and Kris Aquino, “Movie Supporting Actress of the Year” for “Mano Po.” “Mga Munting Tinig” won most of the awards, copping with seven out of 16, including Child Performer of the Year (Brian Ronquillo), Musical Score (Joy Marfil), Production Design (Arthur Licdao) and Original Screenplay. According to its director and scriptwriter, Portes, the group completed “Munting Tinig” in only 15 days. He added, “This movie just won in the Sta. Barbara International Film Festival and is the first locally produced movie bought by Warner Bros. for worldwide distribution.” Other winners at the 19th Star Awards were “Agimat” for Best Special Effects; Jordan Herrera, New Movie Actor of the Year for “Gamitan;” Nancy Castiglione, New Movie Actress of the Year for “I Think I’m in Love;” Ogie Alcasid for “Kailangan Kita,” Best Movie Theme Song; and Lualhati Bautista for Best Adapted Sceenplay, “Dekada ’70.” Special awards given were the “Darling of the Press” for Onemig Bondoc, the “Male Star of the Night” for Bong Revilla, the “Female Star of the Night” for Maricel Soriano and the “Lifetime Achievement Award” for Sen. Ramon Revilla, Sr. Trivia host was Charlene Gonzales. Hosts of last night’s Star Awards were Cesar Montano, Bong Revilla, Philip Salvador, Kris Aquino, Maricel Soriano and Vilma Santos. Performers were Sharon Cuneta, Jolina Magdangal, Ogie Alcasid, Jaya, Angelika de la Cruz, Patricia Javier, Karylle, and Zsa Zsa Padilla. – Sol Jose Vanzi, March 10, 2003 (READ MORE)

Gawad Urian Awards “…Gawad Urian best supporting actor Piolo Pascual (“Dekada ’70”) arrived early at the awards ceremony Saturday night and reserve a seat for “Dekada ’70” costar Vilma Santos, who would later be declared best actress. Vilma and Piolo played mother and son in the moving Chito Rono movie based on the screenplay by Lualhati Bautista, who won for best screenplay. Piolo was very affectionate to “mom” Vilma, hugging and kissing her when she arrived. He was seen clasping her hands moments before his name was announced as best supporting actor at theTeatro Arturo Enrile in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City…The movie critics’ group paid tribute to writer Ricardo “Ricky” Lee by naming him the recipient of the Natatnging Gawad for lifetime achievement for his invaluable contributions to the film industry for more than three decades. The award was handed to him by three of the many actresses who breathed life to his creations – Vilma (“Relasyon”), Dina Bonnevie (“Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak”) and Gina Alajar (“Salome”). Lee has so far written about 120 screenplays and won some 50 awards. His most recent work, Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s “Bagong Buwan,” was honored by many local and international award-giving bodies…Edu Manzano was very effective as the show’s only host. He kept the audience awake and laughing with his witty remarks, delivered with his trademark deadpan expression. Even Piolo and Vilma were not spared from Edu’s jokes. he imitated Piolo after the young actor delivered a very emotional acceptance speech. When Vilma said she was sharing her award with her costars in “Dekada ’70,” particularly to her “eldest son” Piolo, the camera caught Edu having his own dramatic highlights.” “What?” he asked his ex-wife in mock surprise, “Anak natin si Piolo?…” – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 20, 2003 (READ MORE)

2002 Metro Manila Film Festival

Hindi ako kumbinsido na isang Ara Mina ang tumalo sa isang Vilma Santos sa nakaraang Metro Manila Film Festival Philippines. Isang malinaw na pang-iinsulto ito sa kakayahan ng Star for all Seasons bilang aktres. Hindi namin minamaliit ang kakayahan ni Ara Mina. Pero para sa amin, hindi pa siya ganap na aktres para talunin si Vilma. Kung pagbabasehan ang performance niya sa Mano Po, compared kay Vilma sa Dekada ‘70, hindi ito sapat para pumantay kay Vilma. Sa katunayan, ang performance ni Vilma sa Dekada ‘70 ang masasabi naming pinakamahusay niya. Napakahusay ng transformation ni Vilma bilang isang ina na sunud-sunuran sa kanyang asawa to a mother na nakikipaglaban para sa karapatan ng isang ina para sa kanyang pamilya. Kahit si Kris Aquino na co-star ni Ara sa Mano Po ay hindi kumbinsido na tinalo nito si Vilma. Vindicated kuno si Ara Mina sa pagkakapanalo nito. Vindicated saan? Pinaingay lang ng Regal Films ang kanyang performance kaya tumatak sa isip ng ilan na pang-Best Actress ang performance niya. Ang nakakapagtaka, ilang araw bago ang awards night, pinaingay ng Regal ang pangalan niya for Best Actress. Mukhang siguradung-sigurado na silang makukuha nila ang majority awards. At nangyari na nga. Nakuha ng Regal movie ang majority ng awards. Kahit nga sa Best Actor award, nakakapagtaka na talunin ni Eddie Garcia sa Mano Po si Christopher de Leon sa Dekada ’70.

At ang nakakabaliw pa, ilang oras bago ang awards night, may tumawag sa Star Cinema office na taga-MMFFP para sabihing in-elevate nila si Piolo Pascual para sa Best Actor category. Pero nung presentation na, balik ito sa Best Supporting Actor. Di ba, normally may deliberation na tinatawag? Ibig sabihin ilang oras bago ang awards night ay nagdi-deliberate pa sila? Ni hindi nila iprenesent kung sino ang board of judges. Kahit ang souvenir program kung saan naglalaman ng composition ng members ng bawat committee ay wala. Deliberate bang hindi pinamigay para hindi ma-pinpoint kung sino ang sisisihin sa mga kapalpakan? Umpisa pa lang ng MMFFP ay palpak na. Announcement pa lang ng 7 official entries ay nagkagulo na. At tama ba namang iurong ang deadline para ma-accommodate ang ibang entries dahil hindi pa ito tapos? Hanggang sa kailangan pang mag-usap-usap ang mga producers para alamin kung ano ang kanilang decision sa bagong ruling na ipinalabas. Bakit kailangang producers ang masunod kung may sinusunod na rulings taun-taon? Kulang sa paninindigan ang pamunuan ng MMFFP ngayong taon. Sa interbyu ni Mayor Rey Malonzo sa The Buzz, nagpaliwanag ito sa mga naganap na kapalpakan. Ipinipilit niya ang kanyang katwiran na nasusupalpal naman ng mas mabigat na ebidensya. Tulad na lamang sa hindi pagkasama ni Lualhati Bautista sa dalawang kategorya, ang Best Original Story at Screenplay.

Aniya, nabanggit naman daw, baka hindi lang narinig dahil sa studio problems sa PICC. Isisi pa ba kay Lani Mercado ang kapalpakan eh ang husay nga nitong mag-present? Bakit ayaw tanggapin ni Mayor Rey Malonzo na lantaran ang kapalpakan sa MMFFP ngayong taon? Ewan pero nakakawalang gana na yang MMFFP na yan. Taun-taon na lang may gulo, kontrobersya at higit sa lahat, umiiral ang kapangyarihan ng ilan. Kaya kung kami sa ilang film production like Star Cinema at Imus Productions, mag-isip-isip sila ng maraming beses kung sasali pa sila next year. At kung sasali man sila, gumawa na lang sila ng ka-cheapang pelikula para matalo man sila, hindi masakit. At kung iisip man sila ng pang-entry next year, huwag na silang mag-strive for cinematic excellence and globally competitive movies dahil hindi sila kikilalanin at bibigyan ng parangal. Sayang lang ang efforts nila. Magpatuloy pa rin sila sa paggawa ng pelikulang magaganda pero ipalabas na lang nila sa regular showing at huwag magpagamit dyan sa mga kung sinu-sinong malalaking tao sa industriya at pulitika. Kay Direk Chito Roño, ipagpatuloy mo ang paninindigan mo. Wala ka ng kailangang patunayan bilang isang direktor dahil ginawa mo ang alam mong pinakamahusay mo, pero yung hindi ka kikilalanin, hindi mo na kasalanan yun. Salamat sa pagsasabuhay mo ng pelikulang Dekada ‘70.

At para kay Vilma Santos, mananatali pa rin siyang pinakamahusay na aktres para sa inyong lingkod at sa kanyang mga tagahanga. Binastos man siya ng MMFFP, marami pa rin ang naniniwala na siya pa rin ang rightful winner. Hindi ang MMFFP ang sisira sa legacy ng isang Vilma Santos. Sa awards derby next year, pupusta ako na aanihin niya ang prutas na hindi niya inani ngayon sa MMFFP. Sa MMFFP, nakakalungkot na hinayaan ninyong dungisan ng ilan ang imahe ng taunang parangal na ito. Hindi ninyo dapat hinayaan na gamitin kayo ng mga gahaman. You are not indebted sa iilang makapangyarihan kundi sa sambayanang Pilipino. Tiyak na may magri-react sa aking sinulat sa kolum na ito. Ito ang nararamdaman ko. Matindi ang epekto sa akin ng mga pangyayari at kung paanong tumimo sa aking puso at isipan ang Dekada ’70, ang pelikulang nagpamulat sa akin kung gaano kasarap magkaroon ng isang pamilya at makipaglaban para sa iyong minamahal. Kay Vilma, Boyet, Piolo, Direk Chito, Lualhati Bautista at sa Star Cinema, maraming salamat sa Dekada ’70. Mabuhay ang tunay na pelikulang Pilipino! – Eric John Salut, Pilipino Star, December 31, 2002, Reposted by: Sol Jose Vanzi (READ MORE)

The Light “…Topping the Urian for surprise value was the join award for Best Picture to “Dekada ’70” and “Mga Munting Tinig,” This was unexpected because “Dekada” was a major production that took many months to make, while “Munting Tinig” was a small low-budget film that was shot in only a few weeks. Despite this, both films were cited as the best local movies for 2002. A possible interpretation of the twin awards could be “Dekada” is cited for tackling asn important period in the country;s political life with extensive resources of a major studio, while “Munting Tinig” is honored for its ability to dramatize a simple, heartwarming tale that provides much-needed inspiration, despite its limited budget. In other words, the two films’ contrasting approaches are both needed by local movies today, hence the decision for them to share the Urian’s Best Picture award…The Best Actress trophy that Vilma Santos won for her performance in “Dekada ’70” is another noteworthy decision because, when the film was first shown, even veteran observers rapped Vilma for her relatively “passive,” “colorless” and “undramatic” portrayal in the movie. This was because her character, the wife and mother in the movie’s central Bartolome family, spent most of the film’s running time meekly following her husband’s dictates, like most women in the ’70s. Some people took this as a weak thespic stance, and we had to point out in some articles taht his wasn’t true at all. In fact, given the convention of the movie’s time frame, this “passivity” was an astute artistic decision on Vilma’s part, and thoroughly merited by her character and the period in which she lived. In fact, what Vilma did in “Dekada” was more difficult because it was so controlled and subtle, it would have been far easier for her to melodramatically tear up the scenery and act up a storm. Gratifyingly, by the time the film awards season came around, enough people has seen the light, and Vilma went on to win a phalanx of Best Actress trophies, now including the Urian…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer – May 24, 2003 (READ MORE)

2002 Gawad Urian Best Actress

Novel to Film “…”Dekada ’70,” the eagerly awaited filmization of Lualhati Bautista’s seminal novel in the explosive ’80s, has eight nominations. Best director nominee Chito Rono successfully focuses the novel’s many-sided dimensions on a mother’s stirring from domestic conventions and sensibilities as her family copes with the changes wrought by a collapsing order. The movie, written by Bautista herself and nominated for best screenplay, manages to provides viewers, particularly the young, with the feel of the Marcos years, reacquainting them with a particularly sordid passage in history when innocence was ravaged and continuity was ruptured. The wonder is that the movie did not get the lion’s share of the technical design (Manny Morfe), and sound (Albert Michael Idioma and Alex Tomboc) – should at least suggest its achievement. Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon are strong contenders for best actor and best actress, while yound actor Piolo Pascual is nominated for best supporting actor. The 26th Gawad Urian of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, the society of respected film critics, will be held on May 17 at the AFP Theater…” – Lito B. Zulueta, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 28, 2003 (READ MORE)

The Light “…Topping the Urian for surprise value was the join award for Best Picture to “Dekada ’70” and “Mga Munting Tinig,” This was unexpected because “Dekada” was a major production that took many months to make, while “Munting Tinig” was a small low-budget film that was shot in only a few weeks. Despite this, both films were cited as the best local movies for 2002. A possible interpretation of the twin awards could be “Dekada” is cited for tackling asn important period in the country;s political life with extensive resources of a major studio, while “Munting Tinig” is honored for its ability to dramatize a simple, heartwarming tale that provides much-needed inspiration, despite its limited budget. In other words, the two films’ contrasting approaches are both needed by local movies today, hence the decision for them to share the Urian’s Best Picture award…The Best Actress trophy that Vilma Santos won for her performance in “Dekada ’70” is another noteworthy decision because, when the film was first shown, even veteran observers rapped Vilma for her relatively “passive,” “colorless” and “undramatic” portrayal in the movie. This was because her character, the wife and mother in the movie’s central Bartolome family, spent most of the film’s running time meekly following her husband’s dictates, like most women in the ’70s. Some people took this as a weak thespic stance, and we had to point out in some articles taht his wasn’t true at all. In fact, given the convention of the movie’s time frame, this “passivity” was an astute artistic decision on Vilma’s part, and thoroughly merited by her character and the period in which she lived. In fact, what Vilma did in “Dekada” was more difficult because it was so controlled and subtle, it would have been far easier for her to melodramatically tear up the scenery and act up a storm. Gratifyingly, by the time the film awards season came around, enough people has seen the light, and Vilma went on to win a phalanx of Best Actress trophies, now including the Urian…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer – May 24, 2003 (READ MORE)

Anak natin si Piolo? “…Gawad Urian best supporting actor Piolo Pascual (“Dekada ’70”) arrived early at the awards ceremony Saturday night and reserve a seat for “Dekada ’70” costar Vilma Santos, who would later be declared best actress. Vilma and Piolo played mother and son in the moving Chito Rono movie based on the screenplay by Lualhati Bautista, who won for best screenplay. Piolo was very affectionate to “mom” Vilma, hugging and kissing her when she arrived. He was seen clasping her hands moments before his name was announced as best supporting actor at theTeatro Arturo Enrile in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City…The movie critics’ group paid tribute to writer Ricardo “Ricky” Lee by naming him the recipient of the Natatnging Gawad for lifetime achievement for his invaluable contributions to the film industry for more than three decades. The award was handed to him by three of the many actresses who breathed life to his creations – Vilma (“Relasyon”), Dina Bonnevie (“Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak”) and Gina Alajar (“Salome”). Lee has so far written about 120 screenplays and won some 50 awards. His most recent work, Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s “Bagong Buwan,” was honored by many local and international award-giving bodies…Edu Manzano was very effective as the show’s only host. He kept the audience awake and laughing with his witty remarks, delivered with his trademark deadpan expression. Even Piolo and Vilma were not spared from Edu’s jokes. he imitated Piolo after the young actor delivered a very emotional acceptance speech. When Vilma said she was sharing her award with her costars in “Dekada ’70,” particularly to her “eldest son” Piolo, the camera caught Edu having his own dramatic highlights.” “What?” he asked his ex-wife in mock surprise, “Anak natin si Piolo?…” – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 20, 2003 (READ MORE)

For the first time in the history of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino’s Gawad Urian Awards and probably in any national award giving ceremony, for that matter a tie was announced in the Best Film category. Star Cinema’s Dekada ’70 and Gil Portes and Ray Cuerdo’s Munting Tinig were declared as the best of the 2002 produced films. The Urian is known as the award-giving body that has most often declared ties. Allow me to explain why. A certain standard of excellence in every category has been set by the critics. In the case of the best film, it has to be one that is technically proficient in all aspects such as sound, music, production design, editing and cinematography. Beyond technical excellence and artistic sense in storytelling, it must always have a theme that is not pretentious. The film should successfully capture that “truth” grounded on the Filipino experience. Based on these, it is, thus, possible to have more than two films hitting the grade. Declaring ties, therefore, is only tantamount to saying that there may be more than one film which deserved to be called excellent.

It certainly happened this year for Dekada ’70 and Mga Munting Tinig. Both hit that mark of excellence. Congratulations to all those who contributed to the creation of these two momentous films. The Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino has always dedicated itself to selecting and recognizing the best films. When the group was created in May 1, 1976, it declared itself as an alliance of consumer activists who write articles, not for PR, but as independent reviews that give citations and awards. The present group has never deviated from the same objectives and values as that of the first group. Three members who were part of the original one are still with the present crop of critics. They aim to continue awarding the best works and performances; encouraging continuous dialogue on film; and exploring and redefining the responsibilities of the industry practitioners and filmmakers to the public. The Gawad Urian recently held at the AFP theater started with a production number featuring Regine Velasquez, who was draped with filmstrips. She changed into two elegant gowns during the opening salvo.

The other artists who participated in the production were Janno Gibbs, Anna Fegi, JR, Jose Illana, Arni Hidalgo, Rufa Mae Quinto, Marissa Sanchez with the Sex Bomb dancers, and video assists by Michael V and Ogie Alcasid. Capping the evening was a musical number by Aiza Seguerra, 1728, 604 and Ciara Sotto. The presentors were Richard Gomez, Lucy Torres, Assunta de Rossi, Cherrie Gil, Rudy Fernanadez, Dingdong Dantes, Tanya Garcia, Jeffrey Quizon, Giselle Tongi, Judy Ann Santos, Maricel Soriano, Danica Sotto, James Blanco, Angelu de Leon, Vhong Navarro and Butch Francisco. Memorable “thank you” speeches started with Ricky Lee’s, who praised film artists and producers with whom he has worked. He also expressed his appreciation to the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino for finally recognizing and presenting a Natatanging Gawad Urian to a scriptwriter. Piolo Pascual was in tears and had a litany of names to thank as he completed his grand slam for the Best Supporting Actor category with his Urian award. Elizabeth Oropesa earned a good round of applause as she thanked her “Honey” when she received her Best Supporting Actress award.

Jay Manalo seemed rather touched by the Best Actor Award and thanked all his children quite a number, which did not escape the audience’s interest. Gil Portes was in high spirits when he finally bagged the Best Director award, after numerous nominations from the Manunuri. Vilma, who won the Best Actress Award, thanked the special people in her life, including host, Edu Manzano, who was miming on the side, hoping Vilma would include him in her speech. He certainly got the crowd in the theater roaring with his antics when he embraced Piolo and declared that he was a long lost son…The special award, Natatanging Gawad Urian, was presented to Ricky Lee for his numerous outstanding screenplays. A special reading was performed by Gina Alajar and Dina Bonnevie. Vilma Santos read the citation for the Ricky Lee’s recognition. The Gawad Urian Night was not too overwhelming, but friendly and exciting. It was not glittering, but it was colorful. It was not ostentatious, but it was substantial. It was not huge, but it was meaningful. Also contributing significantly to the successful presentation this year was the masterful and witty hosting by Edu Manzano. – Sol Jose Vanzi, May 20, 2003 (READ MORE)

2002 Gawad Urian

A few days before the Urian Awards last Saturday, some movie writers attending the presscon of Jose Llana said they already know the winners in the acting categories. Vilma Santos as best actress for “Dekada ’70,” Jay Manalo as best actor for “Prosti,” Beth Oropesa as best supporting actress for “Laman,” and Piolo Pascual as best supporting actor for “Dekada.” They claim to have heard this from some Urian members. The day before the awards night, we attended the presscon of “Huling Birhen sa Lupa” at Viva and Director Joel Lamangan told us he already knew Beth and Jay, who are shooting the film with him on location in Batangas, would win because he was requested to let them leave the set to attend the awards night. True enough, when awards night came at the AFP Theater, these are really those who won. Maybe the Manunuri should be more discreet next time to prevent such leakage. But the show itself is indeed smooth and slick, starting with the great opening number by Regine Velasquez. The tribute to Ricky Lee, who won the Natatanging Gawad Urian for his work as a scriptwiter, is particularly good. Singers Michael Santana, Ana Fegi and Janno Gibbs sang songs from Ricky’s films, Gina Alajar and Dina Bonnevie read excerpts from his scripts, Nora Aunor, Sharon Cuneta and Beth O. sang hosannahs to him, then Vilma Santos handed him the actual trophy.

Ricky, a founding member of the Urian himself (we left it at the same time in 1980), deserves the award because he is really the first scriptwriter to become a household name. We just wish he delivered a shorter acceptance speech since there’s beauty in brevity. Another winner who rumbled on and on is Piolo Pascual, who really put on an act along with Judy Ann Santos, who presented him his award. He’s the only one who scored a grand slam this year, so we can understand why he is a tad too emotional for comfort. Jay Manalo was more coherent and even managed to make a roll call of all his kids with various women, including his current wife, Raiza. Beth O., in turn, looked like a blushing bride as she received her award (her second best supporting actress plum from the Urian after “Milagros”), thanking her much younger husband, Joel Valdez, so sweetly. Mercifully, she gave a very short speech. Another winner who is obviously so overwhelmed is Gil Portes, best director for “Munting Tinig,” as he kept on giggling while delivering his acceptance speech. As for Ate Vi, this is her eighth Urian best actress trophy after “Relasyon,” “Broken Marriage,” “Sister Stella L,” “Pahiram ng Isang Umaga,” “Ipagpatawad Mo,” “Dahil Mahal Kita (Dolzura Cortez Story),” and “Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa.” This makes her the winningest actress ever and her Vilmanians have reason to gloat.

The concept of singing the songs from the nominated best films (by Tex Ordonez, Jose Llana, Jay Ar and Arnee Hidalgo) is good, along with the idea of lining up all the winners on stage for a final tribute before they announced the last awardee, Vilma Santos. Ate Vi was inexplicably already on stage but without a trophy, so you already know she’d be handed the award for the last category, which is the best actress award. But the production number involving Rufa Mae Quinto, the Sex Bomb, Marissa Sanchez, Michael V. and Ogie Alcasid was a dud. They tried to be funny spoofing Katya Santos and Mother Lily but only ended up being silly and corny. Host Edu Manzano did a fairly good job and even stole the scene when he too cried as ex-wife Ate Vi delivered her acceptance speech. In fairness, the Urian had a good roster of presentors like Rudy Fernandez, Maricel Soriano, Richard Gomez, Lucy Torres, Cherie Gil, etc. Unlike other award-giving bodies who just call on stage whoever is available inside the theater to act as presentors. As Rudy Fernandez himself pointed out, “Ang Urian talaga, mahilig sa tie,” so this year, the tie is in the best picture category, with Star Cinema’s “Dekada” and Teamwork Productions’ “Mga Munting Tinig” sharing the honor. – Sol Jose Vanzi, Malaya, May 23, 2003 (READ MORE)

2002 Star Awards Best Actress

Novel to Film “…”Dekada ’70,” the eagerly awaited filmization of Lualhati Bautista’s seminal novel in the explosive ’80s, has eight nominations. Best director nominee Chito Rono successfully focuses the novel’s many-sided dimensions on a mother’s stirring from domestic conventions and sensibilities as her family copes with the changes wrought by a collapsing order. The movie, written by Bautista herself and nominated for best screenplay, manages to provides viewers, particularly the young, with the feel of the Marcos years, reacquainting them with a particularly sordid passage in history when innocence was ravaged and continuity was ruptured. The wonder is that the movie did not get the lion’s share of the technical design (Manny Morfe), and sound (Albert Michael Idioma and Alex Tomboc) – should at least suggest its achievement. Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon are strong contenders for best actor and best actress, while yound actor Piolo Pascual is nominated for best supporting actor. The 26th Gawad Urian of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, the society of respected film critics, will be held on May 17 at the AFP Theater…” – Lito B. Zulueta, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 28, 2003 (READ MORE)

The Light “…Topping the Urian for surprise value was the join award for Best Picture to “Dekada ’70” and “Mga Munting Tinig,” This was unexpected because “Dekada” was a major production that took many months to make, while “Munting Tinig” was a small low-budget film that was shot in only a few weeks. Despite this, both films were cited as the best local movies for 2002. A possible interpretation of the twin awards could be “Dekada” is cited for tackling asn important period in the country;s political life with extensive resources of a major studio, while “Munting Tinig” is honored for its ability to dramatize a simple, heartwarming tale that provides much-needed inspiration, despite its limited budget. In other words, the two films’ contrasting approaches are both needed by local movies today, hence the decision for them to share the Urian’s Best Picture award…The Best Actress trophy that Vilma Santos won for her performance in “Dekada ’70” is another noteworthy decision because, when the film was first shown, even veteran observers rapped Vilma for her relatively “passive,” “colorless” and “undramatic” portrayal in the movie. This was because her character, the wife and mother in the movie’s central Bartolome family, spent most of the film’s running time meekly following her husband’s dictates, like most women in the ’70s. Some people took this as a weak thespic stance, and we had to point out in some articles taht his wasn’t true at all. In fact, given the convention of the movie’s time frame, this “passivity” was an astute artistic decision on Vilma’s part, and thoroughly merited by her character and the period in which she lived. In fact, what Vilma did in “Dekada” was more difficult because it was so controlled and subtle, it would have been far easier for her to melodramatically tear up the scenery and act up a storm. Gratifyingly, by the time the film awards season came around, enough people has seen the light, and Vilma went on to win a phalanx of Best Actress trophies, now including the Urian…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer – May 24, 2003 (READ MORE)

Star Awards “…Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos still gets the jitters when accepting acting awards. She bested five other equally worthy nominees to the best actress throne in last Saturday’s Star Awards for Movies at the UP Theatre. She won for her moving portrayal of a timid mother empowered by the death of her son in Chito Rono’s period drama, “Dekada ’70,” which was an official entry in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) last December. Ironically, Ara Mina, who edged out Vilma from the best actress derby in the MMFF, was not among those cited by Star Awards. Vilma competed with Sharon Cuneta (“Magkapatid”), Maricel Soriano (“Mano Po”), Claudine Baretto (“Kailangan Kita”), and Alessandra de Rossi (“Mga Munting Tinig”)…” – Marinel R. Cruiz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 11, 2003 (READ MORE)

Actress-Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos, new actor Yul Servo, and the independent film, “Mga Munting Tinig,” proved that the local movie industry recognizes talent and good films, veteran or newcomer, when they bagged top honors at the 19th Star Awards for the Movies held last Saturday night at the UP Theater in Diliman, Quezon City. Santos was named “Movie Actress of the Year” for her role as a mother who experienced awakening during the ’70s turmoil in “Dekada ’70.” Santos, one of the country’s most awarded actresses, admitted she still feels the tension from the announcement of nominees to the winner. “Nakakakaba pa rin po hanggang ngayon (I still feel nervous even now),” she said in her acceptance speech. Meanwhile, newcomer Yul Servo was named “Movie Actor of the Year” for playing a young husband subjected to extreme culture shock when he finds life hard in a Manila suburb in the controversial movie, “Laman.” The rest of the major trophies went to Gil Portes, “Movie Director of the Year” for “Munting Tinig;” Piolo Pascual, “Movie Supporting Actor of the Year” for “Dekada ’70”; and Kris Aquino, “Movie Supporting Actress of the Year” for “Mano Po.”

“Mga Munting Tinig” won most of the awards, copping with seven out of 16, including Child Performer of the Year (Brian Ronquillo), Musical Score (Joy Marfil), Production Design (Arthur Licdao) and Original Screenplay. According to its director and scriptwriter, Portes, the group completed “Munting Tinig” in only 15 days. He added, “This movie just won in the Sta. Barbara International Film Festival and is the first locally produced movie bought by Warner Bros. for worldwide distribution.” Other winners at the 19th Star Awards were “Agimat” for Best Special Effects; Jordan Herrera, New Movie Actor of the Year for “Gamitan;” Nancy Castiglione, New Movie Actress of the Year for “I Think I’m in Love;” Ogie Alcasid for “Kailangan Kita,” Best Movie Theme Song; and Lualhati Bautista for Best Adapted Sceenplay, “Dekada ’70.” Special awards given were the “Darling of the Press” for Onemig Bondoc, the “Male Star of the Night” for Bong Revilla, the “Female Star of the Night” for Maricel Soriano and the “Lifetime Achievement Award” for Sen. Ramon Revilla, Sr. Trivia host was Charlene Gonzales. Hosts of last night’s Star Awards were Cesar Montano, Bong Revilla, Philip Salvador, Kris Aquino, Maricel Soriano and Vilma Santos. Performers were Sharon Cuneta, Jolina Magdangal, Ogie Alcasid, Jaya, Angelika de la Cruz, Patricia Javier, Karylle, and Zsa Zsa Padilla. – Sol Jose Vanzi, March 10, 2003 (READ MORE)

Close Encounters with Ate Vi

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How’s it like working with Vilma Santos? – Well, not all actors get to be included in a movie with the country’s Star For All Seasons, so when the chance presented itself to Carlos Agassi, Marvin Agustin, Danilo Barrios, John Wayne Sace and Piolo Pascual, there was no way they could pass it up. Carlos, Marvin, Danilo, John and Piolo play the children of Vilma and Christopher de Leon in Chito Roño’s Dekada 70, one of the highly-touted entries in this year’s film festival. I got the chance to ask them about their on-the-set experience with everyone’s Ate Vi and here’s what they have to say –

Carlos Agassi: “At first, I was star-struck. I knew I was getting cold feet. Imagine, si Ms. Vilma Santos ang kaeksena ko! It’s so hard to describe the initial meeting. There’s really a tendency to forget all your lines because you’ll be swept off in awe. “Then it dawned on me that I have to focus and focus really well, because I cannot disappoint her and I cannot waste her time. Ate Vi is a busy person, and she only has time for one movie a year so her time is really precious. “After a few days of working together, I started to appreciate her more – as an actress and as a person. She’s very generous and warm. And when it’s time for a take, she’s always in character and it’s time to get serious for everyone. “I’ve been telling close friends that after this movie, I can die, kasi nakasama ko na si Ate Vi. It’s a great opportunity and a greater privilege for someone who has not really proven his worth as an actor to act opposite the one and only Ate Vi.”

John Wayne Sace: “I play her youngest son in the movie and I’m also the least popular among the actors who are playing her children. That’s why I got really nervous. “But she’s really nice and gives me pointers in acting and guides me in our scenes together, of course, with the help of Direk Chito (Roño). While we were shooting the film, she made me feel like her real child so the experience wasn’t too difficult for me.”

Danilo Barrios: “Make any new actor act opposite Ate Vi and he’ll surely tremble in fear. She belongs to a different level, with all the acting awards she has received all these years. “On the set, she made me feel relaxed. She’s very approachable, too. Isa pa, hindi ka niya kailangang turuan verbally para ka matuto. Just watch her, observe her moves and how she delivers lines, siguradong matututo ka. “I have very good memories working with Ate Vi for this movie. I will forever treasure and cherish the experience.”

Piolo Pascual: “Whew! It’s really hard to describe the feeling because it’s complex – a mixture of excitement, anxiety, at times inferiority, unexplainable joy and a big deal of respect all rolled into one. “Ate Vi is an actor through and through – she comes to the set prepared and she gets into her character Amanda on cue. I admire her sense of professionalism, her many caring ways not only for the actors but for the crew and people behind the production. “She’s in a league of her own. I look forward to do another film with her. And I mean it – anytime basta si Ate Vi.”

Marvin Agustin: “Its definitely a dream come true for me. It’s not everyday one gets to work with one of the country’s most-admired actresses. Bata pa ako, Vilma Santos na yan – premyado, respetado.” “As we worked together for almost two years to complete this film, I observed that she is, aside from being a great actress, very human. She gets tired, sleepy and hungry and jokes around with us. But the nice thing is, she doesn’t make you feel she’s superior in any way. She blends very well with people of all stature and class and despite her many achievements, she’s very modest and keeps her feet on the ground. “I’m really honored to have been chosen to play one of her children in Dekada 70. I will forever be grateful to those responsible for giving me this wonderful break.” – Ricky T. Gallardo, The Star, December 20, 2002, Reposted by:Sol Jose Vanzi (READ MORE)

2003 Cinemanila International Film Festival Best Actress

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The 5th Makati Cinemanila Film Competition is at its most exciting yet, with 16 films from around the globe competing for the top prizes. Awards at stake are the Grand Prize Lino Brocka Award, to be conferred by an international jury of prominent film personalities, the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) Award, the Grand Jury Prize, the Ishmael Bernal Award for Young/Alternative Cinema, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Documentary, Best Short Film, Best Screenplay, and the Special Jury Prize. The 5th Makati Cinemanila International Film Festival will be formally opened with the awarding of Lifetime Achievement Awards to Filipino-American Hollywood Stars Lou Diamond Philips, Tia Carrere, Rob Schneider, Dean Devlin and Fritz Friedman for their efforts in the plight of Filipino war veterans and their outstanding careers in world entertainment. The opening films are Filipino-American director Gene Cajayon’s “The Debut” and the Philippine premiere of “City of God” by Fernando Meirelles from Brazil. Fellow Lifetime Achievement Awardees are the Star for All Seasons Philippine actress Vilma Santos and Indonesian actress and activist Christine Hakim. Other special guests at this year’s festival are Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles and Czech director Petr Zelenka, Malaysian director U-wei Haju Saari, Scripwriter Prabda Yoon from Thailand, Indonesian director Garin Nugroho and many more. – Makati Cinemanila Film Competion, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aug 7, 2003 (READ MORE)

Cinemanila best actress and Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos says she has three options for 2004: to run for reelection, to run for governor of Batangas province, or not to run at all. The Star for all Seasons said this Thursday night after she won the best actress prize for her performance in Chito Rono’s “Dekada ’70,” during Thursday night’s Makati 2003 Cinemanila International Film Festival awards at Onstage in Greenbelt, Makati. Santos said she is taking her time to decide about her political plans, “because being a public official is not an easy job.” “I also have other roles in life that are equally demanding and tiring,” she said in Pilipino. “If I ran in 2004, that would mean I have to prepare myself physically and emotionally for another three years of public service,” Vilma later told Inquirer Entertainment, in a telephone interview the day after the awards night. “It’s not that easy becauise I am also a mother to two boys, and a wife to a senator,” pointed out the wife of Senator Ralph Recto. She and the senator have a 7-year-old son, Ryan Christian. VJ and television host Luis Manzano, 22 is Santos’ son with actor Edu Manzano. Recto was congressman of the fourth and largest district of Batangas province from 1992 to 2001 before he was elected senator in 2001. “As an actress, I am also constrained to my fans, who have stood by me through the years,” said Santos. “That’s why I choose my movies very carefully. I make sure the movies I make have social relevance.” Her best actress win for “Dekada ’70” is her second international acting trophy. She was also the best actress at teh 1999 Brussels International Film Festival in Belgium, for “Bata Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa?” which Rono also directed. “I’m very thankful that people appreciate my work, even if I only make one movie a year, by honoring me with awards like this,” Santos said of her triumph in the Cinemanila film fest. She said that a new movie, which is not as “heavy” as “Dekada ’70” and “Bata, Bata,” is now being planned for her. – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aug 24 2003 (READ MORE)

“There is a great need for films that reflect the current human condition,” said National Artist for Film Eddie Romero, guest of honor of the Makati Cinemanila 2003 International Film Festival awards ceremony last Thursday. “Film is the most powerful medium of the century. It is the great gulf that divides countries, but is also the great thing that binds them together.” Romero led other filmmakers, critics and film producers from different parts of the world in paying tribute to films on life’s various realities, during the two hour awards show at Onstage theater in Makati. Vilma Santos won the Best Actress award for her portrayal of the timid mother empowered by the death of her son in Chito Rono’s period drama, “Dekada ’70.” She acknowledged the film’s producer, Star Cinema, for continuously producing “non-traditional” films like “Dekada ’70,” and Lualhati Bautista, who wrote the screenplay.

Shared honors: Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles’ “City of God,” set on the mean streets of a Rio de Janeiro slum in the Cidade de Deus (City of God) housing project, shared the Grand Jury Prize with Sabu’s “Blessing Bell” of Japan, about a man’s journey from poverty to riches, and from honor to despair. The Turkish film “Distant (Usak),” by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, copped the grand prize, the Lino Brocka Award, for feature films. “Distant,” about the relationship between a melancholic and obssessive middle-aged photographer and his cousin, an unemployed country boy who comes to Istanbul to look for a job on a ship, was also the winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes International Film Festival earlier this year.

Israel, India: “Dekada ’70” also won the Net-work for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (Netpac) Special Jury Award for Rono, who shared the honor with Elia Suleiman, director of the silent comedy “Divine Intervention,” which talks of living in Israel in time of war. Suleiman shared the Best Screenplay Award with India’s Apama Sen, director and writer of “Mr. and Mrs. Iyer.” which tackles India’s religious and ethnic violence.” Australian actor David Gulpelil was Best Actor for his portrayal of the resourceful aboriginal tracker in pursuit of a man accussed of the murder of a white woman in Rolf de Heer’s “The Tracker.” Niki Caro’s coming-of-age film, “Whale Rider,” took home the Special Jury Prize. A social commentary on police brutality, “Binyag (Baptism),” won the Ishmael Bernal Award for Young Cinema. The 15-minute films by Mariami Tanangco shows the dark side of the police force where summary execution is said to be practiced.

Lifetime achievements: Sockie Fernandez’s “Flames” won the best short film award, and Ditsi Carolino’s “Life on Tracks” (Riles) the best documentary award. Carolino, whose work was first screened at the Brussels film fest in 1996, said she and her crew lived for four months in the slums in Balic-balic in Manila to do the documentary. Indonesian actress Christine Hakim received a lifetime achievement award. Hakim, who has appeared in over 30 films, founded a non-goverment organization bearing her name which gives milk to undernourished Indonesian schools and assists poor Indonesian teachers. Host Eddie Mercado entertained the audience during the show’s many awkward gaps, with very litle help from co-hosts Nanette Inventor and Paulo Trillo, who both seemed to read from their cue cards too much. Members of the rock legend Asin band showed young singer Jay-R and the quartet Streamline how to hold the audience in the palm their hads through their songs from “Pag-ibig, Pagbabago, Pagpapatuloy…,” the first Asin album since 1983. Actress Ara Mina kept the audience expecially the males, enthralled, not so much with her singing of “Ayayay Pag-Ibig” but with her tight-fitting top and pants. – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aug 24 2003 (READ MORE)

“…Vilma Santos, winner of seven best actress awards from Urian, five from the Famas where she is also a Hall of Famer, and various Star and Film Academy of the Philippines awards, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 5th Makati Cinemanila International Film Festival, during the opening rites last Thursday at Onstage in Greenbelt 1, Makati. Santos’ film career spans several decades starting with “Trudis Liit” at age nine for Sampaguita Pictures. She metamorphosed into a popular star in the ’70s, rivaled only by the Superstar Nora Aunor, and went on to become a highly respected multi-awarded actress. Some of her memorable films are “Relasyon,” “Broken marriage,” “Ikaw ay Akin,” “Pahiram ng Isang Umaga,” all directed by the Ishmael Bernal; “Sister Stella L, ” by Mike de Leon; “Rubia Serbios,” by the late LIno Brocka; “Ipapatawad Mo,” by Laurice Guillen; “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pagitim ng Tagak,” and “Burlesk Queen,” by Celso Ad Castillo; “Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa,” and “Dekada ’70” by Chito Rono which will be reshown at Cinemanila. She has also appeared in films by Eddie Garcia, Elwood Perez, Emmanuel Borlaza, Rory Quintos and Marilou Diaz Abaya. On television, Santos had one of the longest running musical variety shows, as well as a TV drama series. Married to Sen. Ralph Recto, she has two sons and is on her second term as mayor of Lipa City, Batangas. She was joined at Cinemanila’s opening rites by Fil-Am actors from Hollywood Tia Carrere and Lou Diamond Phillips and Indonesian actress Christine Hakim, the first Indonesian to sit on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival. They were also awarded lifetime achievement award. The 5th Makati Cinemanila Itnernational Film Festival runs from Aug. 7-24, at the Greenbelt Cinemas, Ayala Center, Makati…” – Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aug 8, 2003 (READ MORE)

“…Actress and Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos, whose film career spans several decades starting when she was 9 in “Trudis Liit,” also received a lifetime achievement award on Thursday…Carrere, the first Filipino-American actress to become a Hollywood star, appearing with the likes of Arnold Schqarzeneger and Sean Connery in the movies, said her rise to stardom had been difficult. “Its was not easy fighting prejudice against the color of our skin,” she said as she accepted her award. “I work hard to represent you out there.” Carrere, who born to a Filipino father from Cebu, has more than 40 movies to her name and a hit US television series, “Relick Hunter.” Phillips dedicated his award to his mother, saying “I’d like to believe that I’m one her lifetime achievements.” The actor, who was born in Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales, starred in “The Big Hit,” “Bats,” “La Bamba,” and played with A-list actors Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan in “Courage Under Fire.” Also present during the ceremony was Filipino-American director Gene Cajayon. His feature film “The Debut” is the first Filipino-American movie released by Sony Pictures. It was shown for the first time in the Philippines as the opening film of the festival…” – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aug 10, 2003 (READ MORE)

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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