A clamor for intelligent and creative films

by Nickie Wang

In August last year, 33 Chilean miners caught global attention when they were rescued from a copper-gold mine site that caved in. They were rescued after their two-month ordeal some 2000 feet underground. At first they were thought to be dead.

Watching these survivors being welcomed by their families and loved ones on television was riveting and touching at the same time. Some viewers were brought into tears as if they were having a Maalaala Mo Kaya moment. Just recently, the 33 Chilean miners have sold the rights to their story to Hollywood film producer Mike Medavoy, the same producer of acclaimed films Shutter Island and Black Swan.

This report brings me to the question: Why are local film producers settle for rom-com movies or for the remakes of classic films, which stories have already been told many times over?

Film Festivals staged by French, Italian or Japanese embassies, no name a few, give us an idea how our foreign counterparts have mastered the art of storytelling. These film fests also play host to varied film genres. Also, local film are now exposed to foreign films as every single film in the world can now be bought even on the streets and sidewalks. Let’s not also forget that most movies shown in major theaters are from Hollywood.

If our local movie workers are running out of idea or of story to tell, the advent of DVDs can at least inspire them to come up with more fascinating cinematics. Just like the moving real life drama of the Chilean miners, Philippines has witnessed stories of tragedy and survival that everybody in this nation can relate to. Why can’t they make a film that tells the story of triumph and heroism in the midst of a tragedy, let us say for example the story of people who had survived the typhoon Ondoy, the earthquake in Baguio in 1990, or of those who had survived the wrath of Mt. Pinatubo and Mt. Mayon?

Most local production houses overlook the idea of creating intelligent and creative films. Hence, the public has been under the impression that local movie workers have run out of idea that’s why every year we are being offered with the same kind of films over and over again. It makes us think that they are too lazy to explore and gamble on creative and thought provoking movies as they are more focused on what can make their production a financial success. But is that really the case?

Look at Temptation Island and The Adventures of Pureza for example. The first tried to come as close as possible to the original work of Joey Gosiengfiao but most critics say that the remake pales in comparison to the original version. The latter on the other hand, is an attempt to launch the big screen tandem of Melai Canteveros and Jayson Francisco but the film only stumbled at the tills. It sends a clear signal to Star Cinema that the Melason (sounds like “may lason”) tandem is not yet ripe to be film stars, or probably they can never be.

These films are just two of the local works that depict the sad and dying state of the film industry. No wonder indie filmmakers, who have more freedom in storytelling, now claim that indie and digital movies play a major role in pumping life into the dying industry.

Off to the big screens

Star Cinema has found a gold mine in the independently produced film Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank. After its exceptional run at Cinemalaya box office, the Best Film in the New Breed category is set to hit major theaters as ABS-CBN’s production arm takes charge in distributing the indie film nationwide.

Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank, which stars Eugene Domingo, Kian Cipriano, JM de Guzman, Cai Cortez, Mercedes Cabral and Cherry Pie Picache, was a crowd favorite in the recently-concluded indepent film festival, and basing in its initial success its more likely to replicate or even surpass its performance since it will be commercially shown in 40 screens.

Meanwhile, the tandem of Kathryn Bernardo and Julia Montes are set to hit the big screens in August. Their debut film entitled Way Back Home also stars Sam Concepcion (whose role was initially for the late AJ Perez) and Enrique Gil (his character on the hand was initially intended for Albie Casino).

In this movie, the Mara Clara stars play sisters who have lived in separate lives for 12 long years. Amid their being separated their relationship turns sour when they are finally reunited. In the end, the two sisters find home where their hearts truly lie.

Winners and losers

While Harry Potter and Transformers are breaking box office records in the country, The Adventures of Pureza: Queen of the Riles stumbled badly at the tills.

From July 13 to 17, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 topped Philippine box-office with ticket sales of P154.1 million in just four days. Following the Harry Potter film is Transformers 3 which earn P26 million during the same period. The third installment of the Michael Bay-helmed movie is currently the top-grossing film in the country this year with P382.72 million gross revenue. Meanwhile, amid being shown in 90 screens nationwide, Melai and Jayson’s movie only managed to earn P8.46 million in its first five days of commercial release.

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