Vilma Santos is a popular multi-awarded actress and politician in the Philippines. She's known as the "Queen of Philippine Movies," "Queenstar" and "Star for All Seasons." She is currently the Congresswoman of District of Lipa, Batangas (Philippines). This site is mostly about her film career.
Seeing the film poster of both Nora and Vilma’s indie films, we can’t ignore the noticeable similarites. Both seem to be – on the “move,” walking and in deep thoughts. And both were holding a “Bag.” Upon further research, Nora’s bag contained money that she didn’t own. And this is one of the main focus of the film. Will Mabuti, Nora’s character, return the money to the real owner or keep it for herself? Meanwhile, Vilma’s bag contained clothes. Clothes that she uses to several impromptu auditions. Will Loida, Vilma’s character, land that big break she’s been praying all her life, and eventually earn more money for herself and her daughter?
Nora’s Bag – “…Initial reviews of Mabuti were positive. Nora was praised for her quiet and effective performance. She was praised for bringing something new to her long filmography, like her willingness to learn the Ilocano dialect. Her director even admitted wasn’t required when she initially accepted the project. It seems like she was willing to bring something new that even the well-praised Thy Womb didn’t bring out. That “something new,” that we haven’t seen before. Originally written for man, Nora’s character Mabuti, according to writer, Katrina Stuart Santiago, “…this film had technical problems, and I wish it took more care in rendering time and space as important aspects of storytelling. But most this film stands regardless, and that might be because of Aunor. Without her, it’s entirely possible that “Ang Kwento ni Mabuti” wouldn’t survive its own simplicity. Because not much happens in this story, but Aunor takes Mabuti’s character and makes everything happen for her.” The high expectation of “Mabuti” seem to be attributed to the critical success of “Thy Womb.” The later earned Nora several international trophies but the fact is, it failed commercially. Early projections seems to favor Mabuti commercially. The Noranians seems to be in high spirit as they attend the gala premiere of Mabuti and was blessed with the extension of the film’s screening for another week after its first week as part of the CineFilipino Film Festival. The pay out was that Mabuti failed to win Nora the festival’s most expected best actress award. The award went to a new comer, a child protege, named Teri Malvar. Initial prediction from a veteran columnist predicts a tight race for next year acting derby with both Vi and Guy fighting for the trophies with Lorna Tolentino for Burgos and Cherrie Gil for Sonata, all for their performances in indie films.
Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti – “…Mabuti is not a simpleton, but in her world, where words are barely spoken, it is easy to just be. There is want and need, but there is only so much one can do. She is not one to bargain for better, as she is one to try and fix things as much as her abilities allow. She wants to bring the money to the barangay captain, but takes the strange weather as a sign that she shouldn’t; she goes to the military camp to talk to the captain about the money, but the camp is deserted. Mabuti waits for nothing and no one. She seems to always purposefully wait. As she does heartily laugh, in that quiet way that we know the voiceless must. She speaks but doesn’t talk or banter. She is nervous and sad, she is lost and confused, she is happy. And we only know this of Mabuti because she’s got eyes that can pierce through your soul. Which is to say that this is about Aunor, which almost goes without saying, and yet there is something here that she wasn’t able to do in last year’s “Thy Womb.” That is, she learned the language that everybody else in the film was speaking. In this sense Mabuti was more complete as a character than Shaleha; Mabuti was more real. Aunor as such isn’t rendered quiet by the inability to speak in the same way, and Mabuti is allowed to actually be borne of the context that we see is hers in the film. She makes that universe work, and unravel, no matter that it is the tiniest, most removed, universe that many of us cannot fathom. It is a universe of signs. And when Mabuti navigates and negotiates with those signs given her fears and joys, we are allowed to imagine life to be as simple, moral compass and all. Yes, this film had technical problems, and I wish it took more care in rendering time and space as important aspects of storytelling. But most this film stands regardless, and that might be because of Aunor. Without her, it’s entirely possible that “Ang Kwento ni Mabuti” wouldn’t survive its own simplicity. Because not much happens in this story, but Aunor takes Mabuti’s character and makes everything happen for her…” – Katrina Stuart Santiago, GMA News, 23 September 2013 (READ MORE)
Vilma’s Bag – “…Like Nora’s Mabuti, Ektra’s initial reviews were positive. Vilma was praised for her willingness to get demoglarized and her effective take as the an underdog role normally identified with Nora. The initial positive buzz of the film were ignored by Vi’s detractors and even with an unfinished film, early unfavorable articles were published highlighted with the news the films were rejected by the Cannes screening committee. Despite this setback, the film had its gala premiere on July 28 at the CCP, fans and supporters filled the bigger CCP venue. Ekstra went it momentous peak as Cinemalaya top grosser film and after a few weeks went on its commercial screening sponsored by Star Cinema. The film had its successful first week but the film did not sustain its strenght as typhoon hit Metro Manila. It seems like the rain will never stop, the whole country were flooded, and Ekstra despite rumored of being pulled out remained its local exhibition. Ekstra had its world premiere on September 8th at the Toronto International Film Festival. The almost midnight screening were sold out as well as the consecutive screenings. The film were well received and had its limited screenings in North America the following weeks. Ekstra was her follow-up to her commercially successful The Healing. It was clear that Vilma wanted to maintained her bankability but wanted to mix it with the integrity of the indie genre. And Ekstra provided the mixture of both medium, hence the word “maindie” arrived. Ekstra gave Vi her first indie best actress trohphy (Cinemalaya). Like Nora, she is positioned to give anyone a stiff conpetition to next year acting contest.
Ekstra The Bit Player – “…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…The wise and witty screenplay by Jeturian, Zigcarlo Dulay and Antoinette Jadaone hits the right mix of humor and compassion from the outset. In a funny pre-credits sequence showing an exasperated production crew hiring and firing a succession of extras for the tiny speaking role of a housemaid, eager-to-please hopeful Loida Malabanan (Santos) is pipped for the job at the last moment. Very much a modern incarnation of heroines from classic Hollywood melodramas of the 1950s, Loida only strengthens her resolve in the face of such setbacks. Fiercely determined to not ask her (unseen) ex-husband for financial assistance, Loida is driven to survive and succeed because of her adult daughter, Joyce (Ronaline Enriquez), also a divorcee and a college student whose tuition fees are due. Unhurried opening segments paint a lovely picture of a selfless mother undaunted by being lumped into the category of “nameless wannabees” by fast-talking casting director Josie (Ruby Ruiz, terrific). Loida’s belief that it’s never too late to become a star is one of many character traits that will have audiences rooting for her all the way. With this critical factor firmly in place and Santos in supreme form, Jeturian steers a more overtly comedic path once Loida and her spunky best pal, Venus (Tart Carlos), find work on the set of a soap opera regaling with the title of “You Were Mine First…” – Richard Kuipers, Variety, 11 September 2013 (READ MORE)
2014 Award Prediction and Outcome
Luna Awards – Vilma Santos, FAP voting members went for Nora’s Thy Womb the previous year, although they have given Nora their awards three years consecutively, Noranians have enraged some FAP members by complaining too much about Thy Womb not getting the country’s representative to OSCAR, but just based on Vilma’s performance and FAP’s choices in the past, I believe it will be Vilma next year. Despite some critics indicating some disappointments on how her film, Burgos ends -like a “TV drama,” Lorna Tolentino’s performance, was the film’s redeeming value, hence she can be the spoiler between Vi and Guy (As of Feb 2015, FAP announced that they will combined 2014 and 2015 awards into one ceremony this year. No press release yet if this event will actually happened. In lighter note, Vi was cited for her movie Ekstra. – RV).
Gawad Urian – Tie: Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. The Filipino critics are undoubtedly the most credible award giving bodies and they all love indie films. With both Nora and Vilma’s films they would have a hard time deciding which to give their trophies. There is a sure chance that they will just give the honor to both actresses but since Nora received her seventh Urian last year, it would be fair to give it to Vi this year. But a spoiler alert comes to mind, They also love Irma Adlawan for Transit (As of Oct, Vi and Guy lost the Gawad Urian Best Actress to the surprising winner, Angeli Bayani for Oscar bound, “Norte.” There are some back luck for Nora, she lost the National Artist title and her movie “Whistleblower” was not selected to compete for this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival. On positive side, Nora won the best actress at the Cinemalaya for “Justice” locally titled “Hustisya” and she also received Gawad Plaridel award, following the footstep of her rival, Vilma who received both recognition few years earlier. Nora’s follow-up indie film after Hustisya was the indie/horror, Dementia who got a commercial release but according to some press release got a lukewarm reception. – RV).
PMPC Star Awards – Vilma Santos. The PMPC has some questionable winners in the last few years and in recent years they became more clearer that they are more likely to vote for Vi (KC Concepcion upset both Nora and Vilma, she won for her performance in “Boy Golden” – RV).
Golden Screen Awards – The Golden Screen members are trying to imitate the early years of Star Awards and with a new format of dividing their categories into drama and comedy, there is big chance that both Nora and Vilma will end up winning. Ofcourse Vi can be nominated into both categories but it will not be practical if they will not use the opportunity to give Nora and Vilma trophies at the same time. Both of their fans would be happy with Aunor getting the trophy for Drama and Vilma for Comedy (As of Oct, Vilma received a nomination from EnPress’ Golden Screen for best performance in dramatic role while Nora missed the cut – RV).
CMMA Awards – Nora Aunor’s film has CMMA written all over it. It is hands down Nora. But Lorna Tolentino’s Burgos, all for its activism that many church followers loves, may give her a stiff fight. Also, Irma’s role in Transit with its Israel as its back drop will also play the role of predicting who will CMMA proclaim their best (As of Oct, no official statement has been release but the official ceremony is scheduled on Oct 29th. – RV).
Gawad Tanglaw and Gawad Pasado – These academics turned film critics honored Nora the previous year for Thy Womb. Tanglaw like Vilma more and Pasado according to most fans favored Nora. Vi will win Tanlaw and Nora Pasado (Correct predictions! – RV).
FAMAS Awards – Both Vi and Guy are no longer eligible due to their Hall of Famer status. Lorna Tolentino, Cherie Gil and Irma Adlawan will fight for it’s honor with Lorna on top and Cherie as spoiler (KC Concepcion won the best actress, Irma Adlawan was ignored by the oldest group of award entrepreneurs! – RV).
The Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival – “…is a film competition and festival that aims to encourage the creation of new cinematic works by Filipino filmmakers – works that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity. It also aims to invigorate the Philippine filmmaking by developing a new breed of Filipino filmmakers. Each year, ten fresh talents are given a seed grant in order to create the film of their dreams. These films in the New Breed Full Length Category are then featured in festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines every July and compete for the coveted Balanghai Award. Awards are also given in the Short Feature Category and the Directors Showcase. Along with these competition films are an array of exhibitions that include Tributes to Past Indie Mavericks of Pinoy Cinema, a Cinemalaya Kids’ Treats, World Premieres of New Digital Works (the Cinemalaya/NETPAC Prize), and other modules. Aside from the screenings are other exciting film-related events: the Cinemalaya Film Congress, a two-day conference that looks at all aspects of independent filmmaking and distribution; the Cinemalaya Sine Taktakan, a forum with the year’s batch of new Cinemalaya filmmakers; and a host of other events…The core project of the Cinemalaya is the annual Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival and Competition which provide financial grants for the production of, at most, 10 full-length feature films which will then compete for the Best Full-length Film award. It also awards financial grants to the production of five full length feature films by veteran directors in the Directors Showcase category…” – Cinemalaya (READ MORE)
Amor y Muerte (Love and Death) – is an erotic 16th Century period drama; an examination of the initial encounter between the Indios (natives) and their colonizers (Spaniards) and their conflicting views on love, passion, religion and sexuality. Credits: Starring – Althea Vega, Markki Stroem, Adrian Sebastian, Ama Quiambao, Mico Palanca, Kuya Manzano, Amante Pulido; Director – Ces Evangelista; writer – si Jerry Gracio
Au Naturel – “…The two other main leads of the independent production are Althea Vega and Gino Quintana, who have both appeared in several indie films. “Amor Y Muerte” is actually Markki’s second indie effort after his hilarious portrayal of a transvestite in last year’s Cinema One Originals entry, “Slumber Party”. In the auditions alone, Markki already left a good impression. A production insider told us of the screen tyro: “Very professional, alam niya ang needs ng role, pero go-go-go siya, a real artist.” From the get-go, the creative team behind “Amor Y Muerte” made no secret of the requirements from those who wished to vie for the roles of the three main characters – it called for the actors to go au naturel…Both male newbies, continued our source, are a joy to work with. “Nakakatuwa si Stroem kasi gustong matuto ng purong Tagalog for his career, mas type n’ya nagta-Tagalog…Nevertheless, Markki did face tough competition to win the role of the Spanish soldier in “Amor Y Muerte.” One of the actors who auditioned for the part was the older brother of a network star. “Na-teary-eyed kami sa audition niya, ‘yung internalized na internalized niya ‘yung loneliness and longing for the love of his life. Grabe…” – Arnel Ramos, InterAksyon, 20 February 2013 (READ MORE)
Sana Dati – a story about Andrea Gonzaga (Lovi Poe) who has accepted her fate by agreeing to marry a man she does not love. This would be rich businessman and former politician Robert Naval (TJ Trinidad). But a few hours before Andrea’s wedding, a videographer named Dennis (Paulo Avelino) arrives and strangely reminds Andrea of the one person she truly loved but nobody in her family knows about—a man named Andrew Cesario (Benjamin Alves). Credits: Starring – Lovi Poe, Paulo Avelino, TJ Trinidad, Benjamin Alves, Ria Garcia, Carla Martinez, Liesl Batucan, Nico Antonio, Chinggoy Alonzo, Nonie Buencamino, Cai Cortez, Bong Cabrera, Gee Canlas; Director – Jerrold Tarog; Writer – Ramon Ukit
Beautifully Photographed – “…Though best known as a horror filmmaker, Filipino helmer Jerrold Tarog has also won acclaim with the first two installments of his ‘camera’ trilogy. Indie dramas revolving around characters who use cameras in their everyday lives, the camera trilogy comes to a conclusion this year with Tarog’s Cinemalaya entry Sana Dati. Beautifully photographed and boasting what look to be quite strong performances, the first trailer for Sana Dati has arrived and promises something quite different from what we’ve come to expect from the Philippines: a romantic drama that refuses to pander either to the mainstream cineplex crowd or the ultra low budget indie aesthetic and lands someplace really quite interesting…” – Todd Brown, Twitch Film, 31 May 2013 (READ MORE)
Ekstra, The Bit Player – A socio-realist drama-comedy film, which follows a seemingly usual day in the life of Loida Malabanan (Vilma Santos) as she embarks on yet another shooting day of a soap opera as an extra. As the shoot goes on, we get a glimpse of the truth in the ruling system of the production as well as the exploitation on the marginalized laborers like her. Credits: Starring – Ms. Vilma Santos, Cherie Gil, Pilar Pilapil, Richard “Sir Chief” Yap, Eula Valdes, Ronaline Enriquez, Tart Carlos, Abby Niesta, Marlon Rivera, Vince de Jesus, Piolo Pascual, Marian Rivera; Director – Jeffrey Jeturian; Writers – Zig Dulay, Tonette Jadaone and Jeffrey Jeturian
Impromptu Audition – “…the indie dramedy also gives us a glimpse of Ate Vi’s able supporting cast that includes Cherie Gil, Pilar Pilapil, Eula Valdes and a standout Rosario “Tart” Carlos (yes, Doris of “Be Careful With My Heart” ) playing Loida’s best friend and fellow extra. Tart was particularly in a hilarious nod to Nora Aunor as she delivers a variation of Ate Guy’s classic line in “Minsa’y Isang Gamu-Gamo” in what looks like an impromptu audition that saw her and Ate Vi competing for the same role. As a kontrabida with a golden heart who has a soft spot for bit players, Cherie Gil looks like in peak form as she looks poised to own every scene she’s in. There are also cameos galore as the trailer also shows shots of Piolo Pascual, Marian Rivera, Richard Yap and Cherry Pie Picache. As the trailer ends on a touching note, its mostly comic scenes prompts one commenter to compare it to Jeturian’s 2004 sex comedy “Bridal Shower” even as most of the Vilmanians are singing praises for what they consider as an auspicious indie debut and another award-worthy performance of Ate Vi…” – Edwin P. Sallan, InterAksyon, 08 June 2013 (READ MORE)
Porno – a powerful story about individuals linked by pornography. Three souls, one explicit illusion. To find the ultimate joy in their empty lives. A safe haven, where passion and love mean humanity, ecstasy means enlightenment; and the soul is the ultimate arbiter of the truth. Credits: Starring – Carlo Aquino, Yul Servo, Angel Aquino; Director – Adolfo B. Alix Jr.; Writer – Ralston Jover
The Brightest – “…His latest work Chassis (2010), about a mother trying to make ends meet as she lives under the container vans in Pier 16, premiered in the Pusan International Film Festival and was screened in the Vancouver Film Festival. It is also the first Filipino film to compete in the Mar del Plata International Film Festival. Alix has been recently listed by The Hollywood Reporter in its “Next Generation Asia 2010, which features the top 20 young entertainment personalities in the region deemed “the best and the brightest among their peers” from a vast region considered “the world’s biggest entertainment market.” He is now working on several projects including Kalayaan (Wildlife) which received script development support from the Hubert Bals Fund of the International Film Festival Rotterdam and Porno which was part of the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum. His 2013 film Death March was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)
The Liars – Liars is the story of a journalist (Eloisa) whose exposé of the truth results in life-changing consequences to a baseball team of poor boys. Inspired by a true story. Credits: Starring – Alessandra de Rossi, Jan Harley Hicana, John Michael Bonapos, Cris Villanueva, Richard Quan, Jim Rocky Tangco, Sue Prado, Dax Alejandro, Arnold Reyes; Director – Gil M. Portes; Writer – Senedy Que
Mercurial Filmmaker – “…His films have also tackled a wide array of socially relevant themes including drug addiction (“Sa Piling ng mga Sugapa”), teenage pregnancy (“High School Scandal”) and, most recently, reproductive health (“Bayang Magiliw”). His latest film, “Liars” is another first for the mercurial filmmaker. Based on a real-life sports scandal, Portes’ entry to the Directors’ Showcase section of the 9th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is a fictionalized account of the incredible rise and the humiliating fall of a humble Filipino baseball team of young boys in an international baseball competition in the 1990s. Written by Senedy Que (“Mga Munting Tinig”, “A Mother’s Story), “Liars” is headlined by recently crowned Gawad Urian Best Supporting Actress Alessandra de Rossi as the reporter who exposes the team’s irregularities. …” – Edwin P. Sallan, InterAksyon, 19 June 2013 (READ MORE)
The Diplomat Hotel – A disgraced reporter (Gretchen Barretto) seeks redemption by leading her documentary crew to spend one night and tell the story of what really happened at the haunted and infamous The Diplomat Hotel. Credits: Starring – Gretchen Barretto, Art Acuña, Mon Confiado, Joel Torre, Sue Prado, Nico Antonio, Abe Pagtama, Sarah Gaugler; Writer/Director – Christopher Ad. Castillo
Haunted Sites – “…Best known internationally as a leader of the Filipino arthouse indie wave of the past several years, Cinemalaya – which, like other similar events, is also a funding body – is headed to darker grounds this year with the inclusion of Christopher Ad Castillo’s The Diplomat Hotel…Castillo – the son of iconic director Celso Ad Castillo (Snake Sisters, Burlesque Queen) – sets his film on the grounds of an actual hotel purported to be one of the most haunted sites in the world (you can read the history of the actual site here) for an experience that promises to chill. Check the latest trailer below for a taste…” – Todd Brown, Twitch Film, 29 May 2013 (READ MORE)
Babagwa (Spider) – An Internet scammer falls in love with a wealthy spinster while trying to swindle her using a fake Facebook profile. Credits: Starring – Alex Vincent Medina, Joey Paras, Alma Concepcion, Nico Antonio, Chanel Latorre, Sunshine Teodoro, Raqs Regalado, Garry Lim, Kiko Matos, Marx Topacio; Executive Producer – Joji Alonso; Writer/Director – Jason Paul Laxamana
Intenet scammer – “…I didn’t know that he was one until I heard stories from his victims, some of whom I knew. So when I was composing the story, I thought, what if the scammer/poser was actually the one who falls in love with the person he/she is trying to victimize?” And that’s how “Babagwa” was crafted. To get the film made after it qualified for Cinemalaya, Laxamana knew he would be needing more than the P500,000 seed money that the film festival foundation granted…When she asked if I’m interested to partner with her for ‘Babagwa’, medyo na-pressure ako kasi mostly award-winning ‘yung mga films niya. Pero she believed in the project kaya ayun, natuloy ang partnership namin.” In casting for the top four roles in the film, Laxamana said he was fortunate to get the services of some really good actors, beginning with Alex Vincent Medina (“Palitan”, “Pascalina”, “Supremo”) who plays the role of the Intenet scammer. “Isa siya sa top three choices namin nung pumipili kami. Aside from his rugged look na bagay sa role, nakita ko na rin ang performance niya sa ibang indie films. Siya din yung pinaka-game na gawin ‘yung mga eksena, kahit medyo maselan,” he noted…” – Edwin P. Sallan, InterAksyon, 14 June 2013 (READ MORE)
Rekorder – tells the story of a former 1980’s film cameraman who currently works as a movie pirate operating in present day Manila. He routinely smuggles a digital camcorder into movie theaters in order to illegally record films. One night he records something else… And the footage goes viral. Credits: Starring – Ronnie Quizon, Mike Lloren, Buboy Villar, Earl Ignacio, Suzette Ranillo, Archie Adamos, Abe Pagtama and introducing Belinda Mariano; Director – Mikhail Red; Writers – Mikhail Red, Ian Victoriano
Rushing Cinematic Boundaries – “…A year later, Mikhail submitted yet another short film entitled Hazard, a crime drama that tells the story of a father who takes his son to the outskirts of the city for a driving lesson and stumble upon a disturbing crime scene which ultimately makes them realize the differences in their moral stances. “Rekorder is much more daring, pushing cinematic boundaries further.” Mikhail said. He also added that we shall expect the similar aesthetic flavors he has used with his short films before, especially in terms of the film’s over-all mood, atmosphere, and surreal sequencing…In spite of all the challenges he have been through just to finish his full-length film, Mikhail is nevertheless grateful. “It was definitely a learning experience for me.” Mikhail proclaimed. His young and committed crew members also have had their fair share on this learning escapade. When asked if he is expecting to win anything for Rekorder, Mikhail did not buckle on saying that he does not need it at all. “I just want audiences to remember my films; I want them to think about it, it doesn’t matter if they react positively or disagree with it completely. As long as they were affected by it, and they remember my work, then I believe I am successful in a sense. I don’t need to win anything.” Mikhail asserted beautifully…” – Rhea Gulin, Outrageous Writer, 06 June 2013 (READ MORE)
Debosyon – Mando (Paulo Avelino), a Bikolano devotee of Ina, Virgin of Peñafrancia, Patroness of Bikolandia, injures himself in the middle of the forest at the foot of the Mayon Volcano. He will be nursed back to health by a mysterious woman, Salome (Mara Lopez), living there. They will fall in love with each other. But when Mando invites her to come with him to the plains, Salome refuses, saying a curse prohibits her from leaving the forest. Salome holds a secret that will devastate Mando’s love for her. Mando relies on his devotion to the Virgin of Peñafrancia to lift the curse, making him realize just how inextricably linked are the virtues of love and faith. Credits: Starring – Paulo Avelino, Mara Lopez; Writer/Director – Alvin B. Yapan
Different Characters – “…“I feel happy and honored that people remember me for doing bad things on TV,” Paulo quipped during the recent launch of LG Optimus L Series of smartphones for which he is one of the brand ambassadors, along with actress Maxene Magalona and basketball star Kiefer Ravena. The actor was referring to his character as Nathan Montenegro, the mentally unstable antagonist of Coco Martin. The role also won for Paulo the Outstanding Supporting Actor award at the recent 10th Golden Screen TV Awards. Paulo admitted that “Walang Hanggan” opened more doors for him as an actor and sought after celebrity. This includes the LG endorsement and not just one but two Cinemalaya 2013 entries—“Debosyon”, which reunites him with director Yapan for the New Breed section, and “Sana Dati”, where he is directed by Jerrold Tarog for the Directors Showcase category. The 25-year-old said he has wrapped up both films which are now in post-production. “I’m very excited about these films because I’m playing roles that are different from the characters I have done before…” – Edwin P. Sallan, InterAksyon, 26 May 2013 (READ MORE)
Instant Mommy – In order to solve a personal predicament, Bechayda (Eugene Domingo), a wardrobe assistant in TV commercials, pretends to be pregnant. Story of a summer’s journey of Bechayda amidst a highly visualized world where the video screen reigns supreme. Bechayda is a wardrobe mistress in TV commercials who pretends to be pregnant to keep her Japanese fiance (Yuki Matsuzaki). Credits: Starring – Eugene Domingo, Rico J. Puno, Luis Alandy, Archie Alemania, Shamaine Buencamino-Centenera, Tuesday Vargas, Matt Evans, Alchris Galura, Yuki Matsuzaki; Writer/Director – Leo Abaya
Instant Chemistry – “…How did Leo accomplish this? He told him outright, “We don’t have the money.” But Yuki direly wanted to do a regional film just like Instant Mommy that his agent quoted a reasonable fee. And it was a breeze from then on just like slurping the comfort food for many Asians — the Japanase ramen! When Leo called for online auditions, 40 Japanese actors responded. Four were shortlisted including Yuki; his videos clinched him the role. When he arrived and they met, he looked so ordinary that it made Leo a tad edgy. But when he started filming, his personality glowed and transformed Yuki into the actor Leo had in mind. Then there’s the qestion of whether Yuki and Eugene would have chemistry. “I thought at first wala. Pero when they started filming, again it showed. Their chemistry is fantastic…” – Edgar Cruz, Tribune, 03 July 2013 (READ MORE)
Nuwebe – Inspired by the actual story of one of the youngest mothers in Philippine history, NUWEBE follows the story of Krista (Nadine Samonte) who at the tender age of 9 got pregnant from the sexual abuse perpetrated by her own father. Her story is complex. Krista refuses to see herself as a victim. With an almost documentary style, NUWEBE follows Krista’s story as she demonstrates a level of resilience uncommon to her age. Her mother on the other hand is torn between her love for her child and her love for her husband. Credits: Starring – Barbara Miguel, Jake Cuenca, Nadine Samonte, Anita Linda, Manny Castaneda, Renaissance Tuason, Isadora Villasquez, Archie Adamos, Mikael Liwag, Renerich Ocon, Blair Arellano, Mariah Fernandez; Writer/Director – Joseph Israel M. Laban
Level of Resilience – “…Krista’s story is complex. She refuses to see herself as a victim. With an almost documentary style, “Nuwebe” (Siyam) follows Krista’s story as she demonstrates a level of resilience uncommon to her age. Her mother on the other hand is torn between her love for her child and her love for her husband…” – Marinduque Rising (READ MORE)
Purok 7 – A countryside dramedy (drama-comedy) that follows the story of 14-year-old Diana and her younger brother who live by themselves after their mother went abroad and their father lived with another woman. Credits:: Starring – Krystel Valentino, Miggz Cuaderno, Julian Trono, Arnold Reyes, Angeli Bayan; Writer/Director – Carlo Obispo
Personal Experiences – “…Shot in Tarlac, the film features the lighter side of country lifestyle as the main characters take advantage of the fun and thrills of the town festival to take hold of their sweet childhood. Krystel Valentino and Migs Cuaderno portray the siblings whose lives change drastically because of the choice of their father (played by Arnold Reyes). Carlo Obispo based the characters of his film on actual people he grew up with in Purok Siyete in Tarlac. “Maraming events dito na based sa personal experiences ko and based on people close to me,” says the writer-director…” – Jocelyn Dimaculangan, PEP, 04 July 2013 (READ MORE)
Quick Change – Dorina believes she is a lady incarcerated inside a male body. She’s got herself a flourishing career, albeit in an illegal cosmetic surgery business. She is a mother figure to Hero, her eight year old nephew. She acts as a devoted wife to Uno. Between her job and her family, Dorina feels that she is one lucky woman. Until Uno falls in love with another tranny (transvestite). Credits: Starring – Mimi Juareza, Junjun Quintana, Migs Cuaderno, Natashia Yumi, Felipe Martinez, John Relucio, Giggle Esmeralda, Francine Garcia, Rolando Inocencio; Writer/Director – Eduardo Roy Jr.
Cosmetic Surgeons – “…We also realize that it’s just not about making movies; you need to say something about your film regardless if it’s a comedy, drama or romance. In our case, it’s drama. The human condition of this people we are trying not to push it too far. Like what you just described as a poverty film. You know in your face. My intention was to be tender. Since the subject was babies, I want to treat it very subtle. Even if there is poverty, I wanted to present that subtly just like a baby. Even the scoring was like a lullaby. Oh ok, it’s about babies even if you see this poverty, you will forget it because of the drama behind it, like why one of the mother’s escaped or why the inmate mother can’t hold her baby…I submitted my comedy concept to Cinemalaya. I hope that gets approved. I also have another concept that I am working on about fly by night cosmetic surgeons in the Philippines. I want to tackle the obsession of Filipinos on beauty. But it’s more underground…” – Michael Edillor (READ MORE)
Transit – begins and ends in an airport during a father and son’s transit flight from Tel Aviv to Manila. It tells the story of Moises, a Filipino single-dad working as a caregiver in Herzliya, Israel, who comes home to his son Joshua’s 4th birthday. It was on that day that Moises, together with their Filipino neighbors, Janet and her daughter Yael, find out that the Israeli government is going to deport children of foreign workers. Afraid of the new law, Moises and Janet decide to hide their children from the immigration police by making them stay inside the house. Credits: Starring – Ping Medina, Irma Adlawan, Mercedes Cabral, Marc Justine Alvarez, Jasmine Curtis-Smith; Writer/Director – Hannah Espia
Mainstream to Indie – “…Transit’ was such a pleasure to work on. It’s so deep, the storyline, and also the preparation that we had to do for the film,” said the young actress, who was recently in Israel to shoot on location. Explaining her role in the film, Curtis said, “Ako po ‘yung anak ni Ms. Irma Adlawan na lumaki sa Israel. Half-Filipina, half-Israeli, so there’s a battle between cultures for my role, na kung Filipina ba ako o Israeli ako.” For her part in the project, Curtis said she understands not being given a “substantial fee.” “It’s a whole different environment, so we can’t apply what we do in mainstream to the indie world,” said the actress, who has starred in three TV series so far, and has several product and brand endorsements to her name. “And that’s fine, because at the end of the day, it’s all about the experience and learning more about this industry,” she said….” – ABS-CBN News, 05 July 2013 (READ MORE)
David F. – “David F” is written as a triptych with 3 short stories hinged together by the story of David Fagan, a real life historical character in the early 1900’s. He is a black American who was a member of the American regimen that was sent by the US government during the Philippine-American war. He became famous (or infamous) when he deserted the US troops and joined the sides of the Filipino revolutionaries. He was declared as a public enemy of the US government when he lead a series of battle with the Filipino revolutionaries against American soldiers. He was promoted as colonel of the Filipino troops under Emilio Aguinaldo and married a Filipina. Credits: Starring – Quester Hannah (American theater actor), Sid Lucero, Art Acuña, Rocky Salumbides, Mitch Valdez, Jess Mendoza, Mariella Castillo, Dax Martin, Madeleine Nicolas; Director – Manny Palo; Writers – Liza Magtoto and Emmanuel Quindo Palo
American Soldier – “…Acuña’s second film in this year’s Cinemalaya is similarly inspired by real-life events. In “David F,” the actor portrays one of the captors of David Fagen, an actual American soldier who joined Philippine forces in the country’s war with the United States in the early 1900s. “It’s about a little-known anecdote back during the Fil-Am war when an African-American soldier started to side with the Filipinos and fight against the Americans,” Acuña said. “I’m one of the Pinoys who kidnapped David F. to turn him in for the bounty. Sid Lucero is the other Pinoy who does this with me. But then we start to argue about what we have to do, and then morality plays into the picture…” – ABS-CBN News (READ MORE)
The Cinemalaya Foundation has announced the finalists for the Short Film Category for the 2013 Cinemalaya Competition. The ten finalists in the Short Film Category are: Bakaw by Ron Segismundo, Katapusang Labok by Aiess Athina E. Alonso, Missing by Zig Madamba Dulay, Onang by Jann Eric S. Tiglao, Para kay Ama by Relyn A. Tan, Pukpok by Joaquin Adrian M. Pantaleon, Sa Wakas by Ma. Veronica Santiago, Taya by Philip Adrian Bontayam, The Houseband’s Wife by Paulo P. O’Hara, andTutob by Kissza Mari V. Campano.
The Ten Short Films Finalists:
Bakaw is a day in the life of a child who steals at the Navotas fishport.
Katapusang Labok depicts the struggles of fishermen who must deal with environmental abuse and the effects of coral harvesting on their livelihood.
Missing tackles the subject of forced disappearances.
Onang is the classic tale of a young probinsyana who seeks her fortune in the big city.
Para kay Ama is about a young Chinese-Filipino girl who discovers she has a half-brother when she meets him on the last day of her father’s wake.
Pukpok is one adolescent’s transition to manhood as he hurdles a case characterized by excessive blood, superstition and a man with failing eyesight.
Sa Wakas is a reflection on the bond of a father and daughter tested by cultural, political and religious hypocrisy.
Taya is about a 12-year-old boy who learns to play the game of life with a new set of friends. The film highlights how traditional Filipino games reflect the realities and disparities of our society.
The Houseband’s Wife is an essay about a typical OFW family, with the OFW wife as breadwinner and the husband left in the Philippines to care for the children. Technology and the internet bridges the physical distance but shatters domestic harmony when the wife, on a Skype video call, sees a bra, not hers, hanging in the marital closet.
Tutob begins when recent bombings in the region put authorities on alert. A mysterious, strange-looking native Maranao man dressed up in Muslim attire shows up. He is tasked to fetch a package from his boss’ contact. From a rural area in the mountains, he rides his motorcycle to the city to get the package. On his way back, he is stopped at an army checkpoint. Speaking Maranao, he says he doesn’t know what’s in the package, but the Visayan-speaking soldiers don’t understand him and insist on opening it.
The short feature category finalists were selected by the Cinemalaya Selection Committee comprised of Emilio Abello, VI, Lawrence Fajardo, Nic Deocampo, Mike Sandejas and Teddy Co. The Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival and Competition seeks to discover, encourage, and honor the cinematic works of Filipino filmmakers that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity. The works are narrative features that articulate Filipino identity and culture in digital format. The competition is held in three categories, the New Breed Full Length Feature, Short Feature and the Directors Showcase. Cinemalaya 2013 will be held on July 26 – August 4 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Ayala Cinemas at TriNoma, Greenbelt 3, and Alabang Town Center. It is a project of the of the Cinemalaya Foundation, Inc., in partnership with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and Econolink Investments, Inc. (EEI). Cinemalaya also features the Short Feature competition category as well as film exhibitions, seminars, conference, the Cinemalaya Film Congress, and other film-related events. – CCP (READ MORE)
“Ok Lang Po, Maam, Part of the Job.” – Loida Malabanana
Basic Information: Direction: Jeffrey Jeturian; Writing Credits (story and screenplay): Zig Madamba Dulay, Antoinette Jadaone, Jeffrey Jeturian; Executive Producer: Atty. Joji Alonso; Associate Producer: Ron Capili; Line Producer: Charyl Chan-de Guzman; Executive Producer: Jeffrey Jeturian, Ferdinand Lapuz, Malou N. Santos, Vilma Santos, Charo Santos-Concio, John Victor Tence; Music: Vincent de Jesus, Cinematography: Lee Meily, Lee Briones; Film Editing: Zig Madamba Dulay, Glenn Ituriaga; Production Design: Ericson Navarro, Erwin Sanchez; “Ekstra” – original title; Released: 14 August 2013 (Philippines); Production Co: Cinemalaya Foundation, Quantum Films; Runtime: 111 min
Complete Cast (in order of appearance): Nenita Deanoso, Karen Leslie Dematera, Boobsie Wonderland, Cris Castillo, Cris Ad Castillo, Raymund Ocampo, Abi Niesta, Cherry Pie Picache, Zyrus Imperial, Richard Yap, Ruby Ruiz, Vilma Santos, Ronaline Ronn Enriquez, Rita Rosario G. Carlos, Tart Carlos, Antonette Garcia, Linda Villalobos, Raymond Rinoza, Hazel Faith Dela Cru, Rex Lantano, Martha Comia, Jake Seneres, Ricky Pascua, Zachary Ezekiel Diaz, Angelica Luis, Mhel Seduco, Michael Bayot, Fatima Centena, Almira Alcid, Chris Garrido, Norberto Portales, Marlon Rivera, Sunshine Teodoro, Vincent de Jesus
Louie Kim Sedukis, Miguel Cruz, Bobby Contiga, Piolo Pascual, Orlando Marcos, Paulo Gabriel, Vida Masakayan, Marx Topacio, Marian Rivera, Afi Africa,, Cherie Gil, Nico Antonio, Toni Lopengco, Eula Valdez, Rosejean Sevilla, Salvador Zapanta, Glen Elizalde, Windie Lainie King, Richard Carbajal, Stanley Carvajal, Kerwin Garcia, Albert Lorenzo, Mark Anthony Robrigado, Eden Jaime, Jojo Flores, Pamela Roxas, Pilar Pilapil, Olive Cruz, Tom Rodriguez, Terence Baylon, Red Musni, Alora Mae Sasam, Joy Lomibao, Catherine Reyes, Mae Anne Pineda, John Paul Mendoza , Dyan Mae Mora
Manuel Maputol, Honey Mae Liyagen, Salve Barrientos, Marc Anthony Olata, Jeyean Payawal, Vernadet Fortin, Mico Madrid, Leah Jabonella, Zarah Pagay, Rene Castellano, Liwanag Fortin, Cesar Garbo, Rogelio Itein, Lorevy Paller, Eugine Quijano, Ronald Fortin, Lorna Villanueva, Ivan Gabriel, Willy Concepcion, Jayjay Payawal, Manuel Luis Antonio, Lorraine Anne Caluya, Jack Tan, Anne Mitchelle Utuania, Maricel Gabitanan, Jaime Dyunco, Bambie Apostol, Marie De Guzman, Jayjelon Cruz, Basty Peralta, Maryella Gabitanan, Jerry Pingol, Beau Estera, May Ann Bongearas, Jibb Llansang, Cecille Villar
Melanie Ulang, Jivesh Lansang, Christine Ormilla, Melba Cabaiz, Jhon Fallorina, Evelyn De Guzman, Nancy Villar, Jobie Gregorio, Ever Tan, Nene Felias, John Lloyd Ilagan, Ginelyn Baguturo, Nicah Ariza, John Mark Aqui, Hannah Jessica Amanulla, Nina Bucala, Joren Lansang, Hershey Gregorio, Odette Losing, Ken John Kabayashi, Jamaicca Dayta, Renee Andrea Abuyin, Kershon Bumanlag, Jasmine Abuan, Rio Dela Cruz, Khaled Almohsin, Jenelyn Auste, Roxanne Dela Cruz, Khalil Verzosa, Jessa Bravo, Weng Diaz, Lambert Del Mundo, Jessica Navarro, Aaron Ascano, Lester Paguio, Jonalyn Noleal, Alex Oledan
Loren De Guzman, Judy Ann Noleal, Allaine Garduce, Kaycie Antonio, Andrei Guerrero, Mark Bautista, Kim Villena, Antonio Hernandez, Michael Gillego, Kimberly Alaras, Arjay Abuyin, Nicolas Marquez, Kimberly Ann Baleta, Benjamin Chua, Paul Joseph Emerenciana, Kimberly Cru, Bryan Garduce, Ryan Olayvar, Krizie Peralta, Bryan Perlas, Rey Capaguian, Kylie Dela Cruz, Don Santiago, Rickson Villena, Lesley Anne Datu, Ian Japer Villar, Ruth Villar, Ivan Erazo, Tom Taclindo – IMDB
Plot Description:Ekstra, The Bit Player is a socio-realist drama-comedy ﬁlm, it follows a seemingly usual day in the life of Loida Malabanan (Vilma Santos) as she embarks on yet another shooting day of a soap opera as an extra. As the shoot goes on, we get a glimpse of the truth in the ruling system of the production as well as the exploitation of the marginalized laborers like her. – Cinemalaya (READ MORE)
Film Achievement: Official Entry to The 2013 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival: NETPAC Prize, Special Jury Prize, The Audience Choice Award, Best Actress – Vilma Santos, Best Screenplay – Zig Dulay, Antoinette Jadaone, Jeffrey Jeturian, Best Supporting Actress – Ruby Ruiz; 2013 Gawad Tanglaw Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 2013 Gawad Urian: Best Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos, Best Film Nomination – Cinemalaya Foundation and Quantum Films, Best Director Nomination – Jeffrey Jeturian, Best Supporting Actress Nomination – Ruby Ruiz, Best Sound Nomination – Addiss Tabong and Wild Sound, Best Production Design Nomination – Ericson Navarro; FAMAS: Best Picture Nomination; Best Screenplay Nomination; Best Editing Nomination; Best Story Nomination; 11th Golden Screen Awards: Best Motion Picture – Drama Nomination – Cinemalaya Foundation & Quantum Films; Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role – Drama – Vilma Santos; Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Nominations – Drama, Musical or Comedy – Ruby Ruiz and Tart Carlos; Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Nomination – Drama, Musical or Comedy – Marlon Rivera; Best Direction Nomination – Jeffrey Jeturian; Best Editing Nominations – Zig Dulay, Glenn Ituriaga; FAP 32nd Luna Awards Outstanding Performance Lead Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos; Philippine Cinema Evaluation Board Grade – “A”; NCCA – Ani ng Dangal
NETPAC and Special Jury Prize – “…Vilma Santos was named Best Actress for her role in Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra in the Directors Showcase. She was cited “for her bold decision to deglamorize herself and take on the lowly role of the TV and movie bit player, for her moving portrayal of the unsung hero of show business, for the polish and aplomb with which she essayed the role, and for her powerful cinematic presence.” Ekstra won the Special Jury Prize “for its poignant take on the lowly bit player, the unheralded hero of show business, whose contributions are often ignored in movie and TV credits, for its bittersweet evocation of the magic of cinema, and for its humor, pathos and sheer humanity.”; the NETPAC Award for its “comedic but insightful and touching treatment of a day-in-the-life of a movie bit player, seamlessly woven in the production of a TV soap opera.”; and the Audience Choice Award. Ekstra also won for Ruby Ruiz the Best Supporting Actress award and for Zig Dulay, Antoinette Jadaone and Jeffrey Jeturian the Best Screenplay award…” – Cinemalaya (READ MORE)
Film Reviews: “…Ang strength ng pelikula ay ang script nito (na nakapangalan sa tatlo: Zig Dulay, Antoinette Jadaone at Jeffrey Jeturian). Kahit na nagpaka-real time ito (upang maramdaman ng audience ang exhaustion na hinihingi ng isang bit player) o tipong nagpapaka-a day in the life of lang, ramdam na ramdam na meron itong script. Nai-shoot nito ang point nang lapat na lapat. Klaro ang motivation ng central character kung bakit ginagawa n’ya ang mga bagay na pinaghihirapan n’ya. Isa rin itong dahilan upang samahan natin si Loida (Vilma Santos) sa kanyang pakikipaglaban sa araw na ‘yun. May tendency na magpaliwanag masyado kung anu-ano ang mga ginagawa sa produksyon pero nasolusyunan naman ito sa paggamit ng isang karakter na baguhang ekstra. Maging ‘yung tanong sa dulo bago matapos ang pelikula, naselyuhan nito ang halaga ng ginagawa natin hindi lang bilang isang taga-film production kung hindi bilang trabahador na rin sa Pilipinas sa pangkalahatang perspektibo. Nakuha rin ako ng humor ni Jeturian dito. Tingin ko, sensibilidad n’ya ang ganitong wit at wala akong makitang direktor ngayon na nasa ganitong level. Ngayon na lang ulit ako natawa sa kanya mula roon sa isang eksena sa “Pila Balde” kung saan kumain ng panis na hopya si Estrella Kuenzler. OK naman si Vilma rito. Masayang makita na ang mga shining moment n’ya rito ay ‘yung mga eksenang tumatawa s’ya. Pero dahil Vilmanian si Jeturian, hindi naman puwedeng walang eksena na aangat si Vilma sa mga nakagamayan na. Gusto ko ‘yung nakikipagpagalingan s’ya para sa isang role bilang katulong. Maliban sa larger than life na presence ng bida, umangat din ang mga suporta rito: Marlon Rivera (bilang soap opera director at so far, s’ya ang aking bet para sa Best Supporting Actor sa Directors Showcase), Tart Carlos (bilang kapwa ekstra at sounding board ng bida) at Ruby Ruiz (bilang Josie). Sa side note, ganito palang manood ng Vi movie na ang katabi mo ay isang ultimate Vilmanian. Bago mag-umpisa, hindi mo mahagilap dahil parang bomb specialist na iniisa-isa ang mga entrance at exit ng Main Theater kung saan papasok ang mga artista. At malakas din ang tawa n’ya r’un sa isang linya na “Eh bakit si Nora Aunor?…” – Manuel Pangaruy Jr., Tagailog Specials Presents, 28 July 2013 (READ MORE)
“…Not all is grim in Filipino cinema. Romance and satire abound. Jerrold Tarog expertly avoids the syrupy clichés of mainstream rom-com in his absorbing, bittersweet Sana Dati (If Only). Alvin Yapan’s supernaturally seductive Debosyon (Devotion) explores the ardor between a man and a forest spirit at the kooky crossroads of Catholicism and pre-colonial pagan faiths. Jeffrey Jeturian’s witty The Bit Player (Ekstra) pokes fun at the exploitative telenovela industry, with the renowned Vilma Santos in top form as a desperate extra on a soap opera set Tour de force acting comes not only from the legendary Aunor and Santos and other established luminaries like Cherie Gil, Fides Cuyugan-Asencio, Irma Adlawan and Ping Medina, but also from complete unknowns like the mischievous gang of young boys in a small provincial town in Keith Deligero’s Iskalawags, who idolize action movie stars and adopt their swashbuckling ways to escape the dreariness and the struggles of their own existence. Far more than a charming coming-of-age tale, Iskalawags slyly deprecates Filipino notions of manhood and alludes to the oppressiveness of Tagalog culture as endured by the restless majority who live outside ‘Imperial Manila…” – Carla Escoda, Huffington Post, 12 June 2014 (READ MORE)
“…For most of “Ekstra,” I was only vaguely interested in what was happening. A lot of work, a lot of arguments, a lot of ego, went into the creation of something that was not only valueless to the culture but detrimental. Product placement is the least of it; soap operas, like most movies, sell wish fulfillment. They sell the dream of wealth, beauty, and glamor. At the same time, they sell schadenfreude, as the wealthy, beautiful and glamorous feel the heartache implicit in soap opera storylines. I also objected when Loida began to stumble during her big scene. It felt way too cruel to me. It felt sadistic and/or bathetic. But ultimately Santos has a restraint that makes it work. You sense Loida’s world has crumbled but she doesn’t know what to do. There’s doubt and pain in her eyes now. Interestingly, Santos, who looks like the part she plays—someone passed over by life—is in reality a hugely successful actress and politician. She was the Mayor of Lipa City and the Governor of Batangas, a province in the Philippines. There are four major film awards in the Philippines and only 17 times has someone won all four in the same year. It’s called the Philippines Movie Grand Slam, and Santos was the first to do it in 1982. She’s since done it three more times. No one else in Philippines has done it more than twice. She’s basically the Meryl Streep and the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the Philippines…” – Erik Lundegaard, May 28, 2014 (READ MORE)
“…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)
“…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)
“…Showbiz royalty Vilma Santos plays a financially challenged bit player named Loida. Strangely, but not surprisingly, the film veteran makes an excellent extra. She is snarky with friends but, ironically, is an awkward mess when put in front of the cameras. Santos is so natural that the lines between acting and reality are blurred. It was no shock that she won this year’s Cinemalaya award for best actress. The film has a star-studded cast consisting of Piolo Pascual, Marian Rivera and Cherie Gil. For once, however, they’re the extras in this movie. The fun part about Ekstra is that it’s witty and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The “actors” exchange lines oozing with cheese and villainy, complete with telenovela fanfare. The screenplay, a collaboration among Jeturian, Jadaone and Dulay, is smart but accessible. “Crowd din ako dati,” Loida tells a young extra in a scene. “But look at me now: crowd pa rin…” – Paulina F. Ocampo, Katipunan The Guidon Magazine, 07 August 2013 (READ MORE)
“…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)
“…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)
“…Even before Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra was released, naysayers doubted that Vilma Santos would ever be credible as a bit player in TV soaps: “she’s too recognizable,” “she won’t be believable,” “she looks too mayaman (rich).” The only way to silence the doubters is to turn in a nuanced, convincing performance as Loida Malabanan, a single mother who continues to toil in substandard working environments just to fulfill her dream of acting. It’s a testament to Santos’s instinct as an actor that she finds the honest core of Loida and operates from there. Everything else follows…” – Skilty Labastilla, Business World Weekender, 09 January 2014 (READ MORE)
“…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)
“…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)
“…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 “Ekstra,” Jeffrey Jeturian points the cameras to the more unheralded members of the film industry, and zooms in on the marginalized life of extras, on and off-screen. Governor Vilma Santos-Recto plays Loida Malabanan, a veteran bit player who, while “fulfilling” her passion for acting, puts up with the extremes of her occupation. She likewise tries to solely raise her daughter with her meager salary her kind often gets. “Ekstra” basically illustrates a day in the lives of the people who literally are “behind-the-scenes.” For one, the Star for All Seasons was able to mesh well with her co-extras (Tart Carlos, Ruby Ruiz), and was able to achieve a semblance of obscurity despite who she is in real life. Second, Ate Vi also managed not to outshine the film’s supposed “lead characters” (Marian Rivera, Piolo Pascual) without sacrificing her acting prowess. Her scenes with Cherie Gil and Pilar Pilapil particularly explore the difficult and precarious reality for minor players (and body doubles, in her case)…” – Pau Aguilera, Manila Bulletin, 02 Aug 2013 (READ MORE)
“…Of course, holding up the film together is Vilma Santos in her first indie film. As Loida Malabanan, the extra, she’s there from start to finish. Her character is so well defined. She’s been an extra all of her life. As a young girl, she fell in love with a cameraman, became a single mom and now has a hard time sending her teenage daughter to college. The movie is one day in the life of Loida, showing her preparing breakfast for her sleeping daughter before she leaves for work, how her day goes on the set, until she returns home to her daughter the next day. Throughout the day, we join Loida in her moments of triumph (she bested another extra in an impromptu contest to be chosen to play the role of a housemaid) and humiliation (she doubles for Eula Valdes and gets mauled by Cherie Gil, she fails to deliver her lines properly in the role of a lady lawyer and was insulted by the director in front of everyone else.) Your heart will really go out for Loida. More than anything else, she’s a very caring mother to her child. She’s also very caring to the younger extras, like a teener who’s working as an extra for the first time and who she advises to focus on her career and not on romance. She was also so affected when another extra faints on the set due to hunger and another one is subjected to heavy prosthetic makeup as a zombie and isn’t even allowed to answer the call of nature, only to be told that her scene won’t be shot anymore.
The final scene is priceless, the most touching of all. Loida attends a party and she gets to watch the crucial sequence she taped the night before on their neighbor’s TV set. She painfully sees the scene where she was supposed to be playing the lawyer now done by another actress. She was still retained in that scene, but only as part of the crowd. She cannot even tell her friends that she was supposed to play the lawyer part but she was kicked out because she couldn’t deliver her lines persuasively. It’s a wordless scene and you can feel Vilma reliving the embarrassment she went through, but she talks only with her eyes brimming with tears and you just want to hug her and comfort her. It’ll be gross injustice if Ate Vi wouldn’t win as best actress in the Cinemalaya Awards Night this Sunday. Tinulak na siya, tinakluban sa ulo, sinipa, pinaso ng sigarilyo, sinampal, hiniya at ininsulto mula ulo hanggang paa. And she is just consistently awesome through it all. All extras in real life will love Jeturian and Ate Vi for showing in this film the humor and the soul of the experiences they go through in the course of their job. What’s nice about the film is that, as a real homage to extras, they listed down the names of all the extras who were involved in the film at the end credits…” – Mario Escobar Bautista, Showbiz Portal, 31 July 2013 (READ MORE)
“… 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)
“…Vilma Santos, as always, exceptionally played the role to a hilt. The world bit players live in is all too jarring, more so because Vilma Santos—THE Vilma Santos—convincingly plays the role of a lowly talent. That might be too hard to accept in real life, but Ate Vi did a great job in fleshing out a character who’s equal parts funny, hopeful, and tragic…The movie features a witty and hilarious script, which is further bolstered by Ate Vi’s great comedic timing. There were no lapses in timing and delivery, and there was a stark contrast between the realistic portrayal of the “normal” characters as opposed to the over-the-top acting featured in their teleserye project…Vilma is at her best at the final scene, where she’s subjected to painfully watch the very episode they just shot. She’s embarrassed and frustrated, and we watch in horror as her eyes well up while she tries to hold everything in. We’ve seen that look several times in Ate Vi’s previous movies, but it still haunts us just the same…” – Myra Grace Calulo, PEP, 30 July 2013 (READ MORE)
“…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)
“…From my perspective, I’m not sure if I can now consider this film the parody it’s meant to be, or more of an “exposé” into our real world of soap operas. It reflects many truths of what these extras, or talents, face. I myself, despite my ranting, have softened up to their plight. On one taping day, lo and behold, the first sight that greeted me were some 20 talents sitting on cardboard on the ground, in the heat of the sun, right in front of the main actors’ air conditioned tent. Talk about rubbing the point in. All this for P1,000 a day or P1,500 if you had speaking lines, or if you played a nurse, police or doctor, you get P2,000 because you have to bring your own uniform. A day may mean 28 to 36 hours straight for many of them. I’m fortunate that after decades in the business, I’ve earned a cut-off time of 2 am (which in effect actually helps talents go home earlier, if they’re in my scenes). I realize minimum wage stands at under P500, but these seemingly good talent fees don’t go straight into their pockets. They too have agents or talent suppliers who whittle away their earnings. (Just like we do.) I could be putting myself on a limb here, but I’m going to say it anyway: isn’t it high time we make the working environment in the soap opera world better for all to enjoy the work and find dignity in our choice of profession?…” – Cherie Gil, Rappler 30 March 2013 (READ MORE)
“…the biggest box office hit among the entries is not any of these sex movies but the entry of Gov. Vilma Santos, “Ekstra, The Bit Player”. She didn’t show anything but her acting talent and yet Gov. Vi proves she’s still a top box office drawer. At Trinoma, all the ticket sellers say all of “Ekstra’s” screenings this weekend are sold out in advance. Way to go, Ate Vi! This is not surprising as “Ekstra” is also the best movie she has done in years…” – Showbiz Portal (READ MORE)
“…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)
“…Sa simula pa lang, naipakita na ni Ate Vi ang husay niya sa pag-arte. Pinatawa niya ang audience. Nakiluha rin sa kanya ang mga manonood nang tarayan at pagmumurahin siya ng direktor ng soap sa pelikula (played by Marlon Rivera, last year’s Cinemalaya Best Director for Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank), at nakisimpatiya rin sa kanya ang audience sa eksenang tinadyakan at tinotoo ni Cherie Gil ang pananakit sa kanya. Hindi rin nagpahuli sa akting ang best friend ni Loida (Vilma) na si Venus (played by Tart Carlos na madalas mapanood sa Be Careful with My Heart as yaya). Aliw na aliw ang viewers sa mga punchline na binitiwan niya. Muhusay din ang talent coordinator ng mga ekstra. Magaling din si Vincent de Jesus (bilang AD), Cherie, Pilar Pilapil at iba pang `ekstrang’ katulad nina Marian Rivera, Piolo Pascual at marami pang iba. In short, isa itong ensemble acting. Maganda at maayos ang pagkakasulat ng script na tumuon sa kuwento ng mga taong umeekstraekstra sa mga teleserye. Ang husay ng direksyon ni Direk Jeffrey. Panalo rin ang musical scoring na ginawa rin ni Vincent, nakadadagdag ito sa ganda ng bawat eksena…” – Lito T. Mañago, Balita, 31 July 2013 (READ MORE)
“…What makes the film such a success is the casting coup of having Vilma Santos, one of our true Philippine cinema luminaries, take on the title role of the extra, Loida. Deglamorized to play the role with verisimilitude, Vilma is the centerpiece of a film that realistically shows us the plight of these extras, the people who so often are taken for granted in the industry. It also gives poignant irony when Vilma declaims the lines that critique and poke fun at our star system, and how movies and teleseryes come to life…Co-writing the screenplay with Jeffrey is Antoinette Jadaone, who wrote the other “cinema verite” gem about film extras and bit players, Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay. With the two on board, you know there will be so much insider knowledge, anecdotes and vignettes that will evince, knowing laughter and delicious revelations about the working conditions in our film and TV entertainment industry. There is a rich history both here and abroad of this kind of story — one of my favorites being Dustin Hoffman’s Tootsie. What’s great about Ekstra is how there is no unreal reversal of fortune. Instead, we get so much humor, while the film ends with poignancy that rings true — how at the end of the day, as Loida ruefully remarks early on in the film, if for years she’s been an extra in crowd scenes, she’s now graduated to be an extra for crowd scenes…” – The Philippine Star (READ MORE)
“…Eh talagang hindi dahil karamihan naman sa mga indie film ay puro kahalayan lang ang ipinakikita eh. Tingnan na nga lang ninyo diyan sa katatapos na Cinemalaya kung ano ang usapan? Hindi ba ang pinag-uusapan ay kung ilang artistang lalaki ang ipinakitang nagpapakaligayang mag-isa o may kasama at kung ilang artistang babae ang walang takot ding naghubad? Pero tingnan ninyo, ang sinasabing kumita ay ang Ekstra ni Ate Vi na wala namang ipinakitang kabastusan. Hindi naman kasi gusto ng karamihan sa publiko ang mga pelikulang bastos. Hindi naman likas na bastos ang mga Pilipino. Isa pang sinabi sa amin ni Ate Vi, tinanggap niya ang pelikula dahil naniniwala siya na ang mga pelikulang independent ay kulang nga sa mga star. Umaasa siya noon na kung gagawa nga siya ng isang pelikulang indie, makukumbinsi na rin ang iba pang malalaking artista (iyong kumikita ang mga pelikula ha?) na gumawa na rin ng indie movie para makalaban naman iyon sa mga tunay na pelikula…” – Ed de Leon, Pang-Masa, 6 August 2013 (READ MORE)
“…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)
“…It’s a strong theme that is thankfully not spray-painted on the script of Ekstra, but is unmistakably there. Whether we notice it or not, this becomes the overlooked crowd in the background. But if there’s one thing that shouldn’t be overlooked, it’s Santos’ performance. Regardless of your opinion of her as a celebrity or as a politician, Santos remains to be one of the most talented actors in the industry. Ekstra is the kind of Philippine comedy that all other comedies should aspire to be, harnessing great talent with a story that is both thoughtful and entertaining. Hopefully, that kind of sentiment doesn’t fade into the background. The Verdict: Ekstra is an effective Philippine comedy that is not only worthy of the Star for All Seasons, but deserving of movie audiences who want more from their usual slapstick Filipino punchlines…” – Zig Marasigan, Kristn, 14 Aug 2013 (READ MORE)
“…Jeturian effectively keeps the film worth watching from start to end. The witty script features an wide variety of characters that are dedicated, hardworking, diva-ish or self-absorbed. As a film and TV director, he knows his material very well and he does well in presenting the harsh realities of production work in a hilariously dramatic form. His honest depiction of different behind-the-scene situations is both striking and entertaining. He also has tremendous on-screen talents at his disposal. Vilma Santos in the lead makes a great impression, fleshing out an unsung heroine in the very industry where she is now considered a living legend. She succeeds in dimming her megawatt star power to appear properly inferior to the big stars in the story. Interestingly, she manages to outshine them as a lowly main character with great comedic timing and without lapses in pacing and delivery. From energy and excitement to pain and frustration, a gamut of emotions stream across her face…” – Rianne Hill Soriano, Business World, 15 Aug 2013 (READ MORE)
“…Unknown to many, there was a time when Jeturian visited the office of an ad agency to pitch the unpolished gem that was Angel Aquino at the time. Jeturian and Aquino were shown the door. The agency preferred American- and European-looking Filipinas for its beauty product commercials. With the script written by Zig Dulay, Antoinette Jadaone, and Jeturian himself, the director sweetly took his revenge by putting at the center the marginalized bit players and the exploited laborers of the industry. In bravely deglamorizing herself, Santos showed the audience once again what she can accomplish as one of the Philippine’s finest talents, while Ruby Ruiz convincingly and adeptly essayed the role of a talent coordinator, who acts as a “shock absorber” of all harshness inflicted by the studio system on the hapless bit players…” – Ibarra C. Mateo, GMA News, 16 Aug 2013 (READ MORE)
“…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)
“…Watching the movie will be like being there on the set as well, feeling the pain and fatigue of the bit player but also enjoying the laughter and the sense of camaraderie that the behind the scenes closeness fosters. Focal to the telling of the story, of course, is none other but Ate Vi. She probably does not give as swashbuckling a performance as she did in, say, ‘Anak.’ That said, Ate Vi is Ate Vi. She is a master in the craft of acting without acting which, in my opinion, makes her among the most gifted and convincing actors in the country…” – Rex Torrecampo Life So Mundane, 16 August 2013 (READ MORE)
“…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)
“…The film captures a day in the life of a movies/television soap bit player, Loida Malabanan (played by Santos). It takes off as Loida wakes up early dawn to prepare for another out-of-town shooting for a television drama series as an extra. The film therefore provides a behind-the-scenes look at the travails and the simple joys of Loida and her fellow bit players. Working in an industry dominated by the glamorous and famous, it would seem that bit players have their fair bit of small luxuries, fame and glamour. The movie shatters that impression as it focuses on the sufferings and indignities interspersed with the laughter and friendships of the bit players. In one scene, the bit players have to look for a place to rest in a sun-soaked shooting location and eventually had to share a resting space with a carabao. In another, they literally have to beg for food from a member of the catering crew. The movie is pretty straightforward with no complex subplots, so there were times when I yearned for a sudden twist. I didn’t get what I wanted…Ekstra is really a tribute to the bit players and scoffs at the “system” in the local showbiz industry wherein “star” talents are treated like royalty, while bit players (including those working off-camera such as technicians, custodians, etc) are exploited to the hilt…” – Irish Eden Belleza, Gulf News, 21 September 2013 (READ MORE)
“…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)
“…Vilma Santos in her long and illustrious career in cinema has her playing a stripper (BURLESK QUEEN), a dying woman (DAHIL MAHAL KITA, PAHIRAM NG ISANG UMAGA), the other woman (RELASYON), a superhero (DARNA), a freedom fighter (SISTER STELLA L), countless mothers (ANAK, BATA BATA PAANO KA GINAWA, DEKADA ’70, IN MY LIFE) and sometimes even a tormentor (SINASAMBA KITA) yet what Ekstra, her new indie film offers is something we have never seen Vilma do- underacting. The role demands it, and Vilma more than handsomely gives her finest performance as a bit player…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…” – Macky Macarayan, Pelikula Pamantasan – PLM Film Society (READ MORE)
“…Vilma Santos, whose star’s premise encompasses age, climate,even time itself, portrays this “extra.” It is time to report that the brilliance has failed. The consistency of her light years has been credited to a vigor whose basis is melodramatic competence. With the genre demolished at primetime, every night of our lives, the actress looks dissipated in the rehearsal, and what she can afford to muster is a middling energy. There was a time when her powers largely depended on this “extra,” which can be derived from the “over-” in her “overacting.” Even without training from the Peking Opera, Santos repeated this shrill technique from one project to another, for the manner somehow worked at the box office. Manner became the mannerism that launched a star most distantiated from the repertoire of an ensemble and the theater of an environment. Ekstra ultimately fails in Santos’s inability to inhabit the supplementation that she has triumphantly supplanted, with total industrial patronage, all these absolutely industrious years. Her “extra” is a “surplus”: a defective product that deserves to be remaindeered. The catatonic performance in last year’s The Healing should have warned us of the affliction in Ekstra. She is never “Loida”; she doesn’t possess the sentimental history to locate the interiority of such victimage. Frame after frame, “Vilma” remains the star who became an actress, by aspiration, then capitalist scheme, and, perhaps, through bureaucratic accident. The only feeling Vilma understands from Loida is despair, having realized that the industry has lost its charms to restore whatever has remained of recognizable talent. We can only hope Santos has known the extent of such violation, with those final eyes of a rather infinite regret…” – J. Pilapil Jacobo, Young Critics Circle Film Desk (READ MORE)
“…Gov. Santos of Batangas province, who stars in Jeffrey Jeturian’s movie Ekstra, won the Best Actress award in the Directors Showcase at the 9th Cinemalaya Awards night held Sunday night. Surprisingly though, no Best Actor Award winner was named. Ekstra also won three other awards including the Best Supporting Actress award for Ruby Ruiz, the Audience Choice award, and the Special Jury Prize. The movie is a socio-realist drama-comedy that follows a seemingly usual day in the life of Loida Malabanan (Vilma Santos) as she embarks on yet another shooting day of a soap opera as an extra. As the shoot goes on, viewers get a glimpse of the truth in the ruling system of the production as well as the exploitation of the marginalized laborers like her…” – Ed Uy, Manila Times, 05 August 2013 (READ MORE)
“…Long vocal about her hesitation to star in an indie movie, Santos had always said she would conquer her fears of trying out the genre given the right script. And yes, Esktra truly got it right. Not only was the Star for All Seasons highly entertained by the amusing yet touching storyline about the travails of a bit player for television—an “ekstra” in showbiz jargon—she was also extremely challenged as an actor to portray the role of Loida Malabanan, and on a much higher level, inspired to pay tribute to the countless and nameless faces she has worked with in the last five decades as a movie star. “Ang pinakamalaking challenge ng role ni Loida Malabanan ay kung kaya ko bang magmukhang at maging isang ekstra sa pelikula,” Santos explained her approach on the Jeffrey Jeturian gem of an indie. “Yun bang hindi ako puwedeng umangat; yung ma-de-glamorize ka na magulo ang buhok mo, ang lalaki ng suot mo; at yung hindi si Vilma Santos ang makita mo kundi isang ekstra…” – Tessa Mauricio-Arriola, Sunday Times Magazine, 10 August 2013 (READ MORE)
“… Anchored by stunning performances from Vilma Santos, Ruby Ruiz, and Marlon Rivera, as well as Jeffrey Jeturian’s compassionate direction, EKSTRA meshes drama and comedy with panache. Vilma Santos always manages to get a very realistic tone to her character, which is quite refreshing. It follows the story of a day in a life of a bit player, Loida Malabanan (Vilma Santos) during the shooting of a popular soap opera. As the shoot progresses, we get a glimpse of how production works, the people ruling it, and how the extras are treated on the set. There are parts that are pretty cliché, but there are also scenes that are fucking flawless. The supporting cast around Santos is amazing including Ruby Ruiz who gives one of her best performances in this film. It has moments of laughter coupled in with drama that explores hope, love and passion, & the hardships of climbing the mountain of both show business & a relationship in a cynical world. The script written by Zig Dulay, Antoinette Jadaone, & Jeffrey Jeturian is absolutely wonderful…” – Chikkaness Avenue, 12 Agosto 2013 (READ MORE)
“…I haven’t come close to seeing everything playing at the St. Louis International Film Festival, but I have seen enough to recommend a few films you might otherwise overlook. One is the Filipino comedy-drama The Bit Player (11/18 Frontenac 4:30 p.m.; 11/20 Frontenac 2:15 p.m.); in fact, the performance of Vilma Santos-Recto alone is reason enough to see this film. Even better, it’s a backstager, offering a look at television production from the point of view of the many underpaid, underappreciated extras who play a vital role in making the programs happen. Santos-Recto is a huge star in her native country (fun fact: she’s also the governor of Batangas province) but perfectly inhabits the life of a middle-aged single mother whose best efforts are required just to stay employed and keep her family afloat…” – Sarah Boslaugh, Playbackstl, 09 Nov 2014 (READ MORE)
“…The TV screening of “Ekstra” heartened Vilma’s fans because it was a bracing departure from her usual starrers. It was strikingly simple and acutely realistic, “daring” to cast her, not as a star, but as a lowly, faceless bit player in the movies. Jeffrey Jeturian’s indie surprised fans with its gutsy decision to cast Vilma in an “everywoman” role that they could fully empathize with. And it delighted TV-film industry insiders even more with its spot-on and satirically “knowing” details about the un-glamorous side of the biz—where extras work for a pittance while waiting for hours and hours for spoiled and overpayed stars to finally deign to show up for their shooting or taping schedules!…It was also such great fun for “real” stars like Piolo Pascual, Marian Rivera, Cherie Gil and Pilar Pilapil to candidly and even ruthlessly spoof themselves and their stellar colleagues, the better to drive home the key and telling point that show biz can be a vicious den of harsh and cruel inequality. “Ekstra” is precisely the kind of film that Vilma should be making at this time in her life, when she’s so busy with other, more political concerns. This way, she can continue to act in at least one significant movie a year, even as she focuses on more nationally “important” pursuits!…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 25 April 2015 (READ MORE)
“I play a movie extra and a double, so I don’t really have to look good or be well-dressed or fully made-up. That is what excites me and challenges me at the same time—how I can be able to transform into a character so different from who I am, from how people have known me for all these years.” – Vilma Santos
“…EXTRA (A Bit Player) is a socio-realist drama-comedy film, which follows a seemingly usual day in the life of Loida Malabanan (Vilma Santos) as she embarks on yet another shooting day of a soap opera as an extra. As the shoot goes on, we get a glimpse of the truth in the ruling system of the production as well as the exploitation on the marginalized laborers like her…” – Cinemalaya (READ MORE)
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