Chris' oeuvre before 100--plays like Last Order sa Penguin, Baclofen, Temptation Island (adapted from the Joey Gosiengfiao movie), ZsaZsa Zaturnnah (adapted from the Carlo Vergara comic book) and Welcome to IntelStar, and scripts for films like Bridal Shower, Bikini Open, Sukob and Caregiver--offered no hint that he'd choose the subject of death and loss for his very first film project, and one done to death at that. So where'd he get the idea?
From the necrological services for the late UP Theater Arts professor Ogie Juliano who died last year, he said. (I wrote about it here). “Sa una parang sobrang lungkot na nakakatawa, nakakaiyak, but eventually it became more about the friendship. Andaming tao, punong puno ang [Guerrero] Theater, different batches of people from UP, or mga nakatrabaho ni Ogie. So bago ako matulog [that day], naisip ko yun.”
Other tidbits we gathered: He and his signature actress Eugene Domingo (Best Supporting Actress for 100 in the 2008 Cinemalaya Film Festival) go a long way back, even living together for a while--as friends. The movie's title (spoiler alert!) refers to the hundred things Mylene Dizon's stricken character sets out to do before she dies--though there are actually 102 tasks included in the film (I made sure to ask that). Since he likes dialogue-driven films, Woody Allen is his favorite director.
And he is a dyed-in-the-wool Vilma Santos fan--the reference to Pahiram ng Isang Umaga at one point in the film is a dead giveaway. “Di ba dapat naman siya ang idolohin, the way she's lived her life?,” he quipped. “Ang mga ina-idol natin dapat yung mga pasulong sa liwanag!” Laughter all around.
Money quote (well, because I lobbed the question--on the claim by some that “Cinemalaya seems to be losing its way because mas marami na ang mainstream actors and actresses who are getting the parts there, and sila rin ang nananalo”):
“I don't find anything wrong with casting name actors... For me, the distinction between independent and mainstream [film] is just economics. But aesthetically, dapat walang distinction. Hindi naman ibig sabihin pag independent film kailangan unknown actors, or gumagalaw-galaw ang camera mo, or poorly lit. At di rin naman ibig sabihin pag mainstream e kailangan laging glossy. Sa akin, ang aesthetics iba yun sa economics. Ang goal naman yata ng bawat independent filmmaker is to get the mainstream audience--to get as many people to watch the film. Otherwise, hindi masu-sustain ang artist, di siya makakagawa ng mas marami pang pelikula.”
Later this month, 100 is off to the Marrakech Film Festival in Morocco--after having won the Audience Choice award at the Pusan International Film Festival in Korea, the same badge of popular affection it received in this year's Cinemalaya (on top of Best Actress, Supporting Actress, Screenplay and Director).
Here's the rest of the podcast. Don't miss the film.
PLUS: Pics and video clips here of the acceptance speeches of Cinemalaya 2008 major winners Mylene Dizon, Baron Geisler, Eugene Domingo, Yul Servo, Chris Martinez and Francis Pasion (for Best Picture winner Jay).
[Photo taken with a Sony Ericsson C905]