Thy Womb and El Presidente_2012 MMFF Entries That I’ll WatchDecember 25, 2012
I intend to watch Thy Womb by Cannes Film Awardee for Best Director Brillante Mendoza and El Presidente by Mark Meilly. The first one because I loved Mendoza’s “Lola”, and I want to watch a Nora Aunor film. [I walked out though on his film “Kinatay” because of bad projection]. Next, I’ll watch El Presidente where Nora Aunor was directed by Tikoy Aguiluz for the first time. I want to see the difference between the handling of actors of Meilly and Tikoy, and how they see through the lens. What do I mean here? The composition , lens choices, and blocking of characters. I know Tikoy’s films well enough having edited almost all of them. Especially so because I met Carlo Mendoza, both film’s cinematographer last November during the last CineManila International Film Festival. We watched a Thai film together and he told me that differences were there in Tikoy’s and Meilly’s works. He even said that what the directors wanted, not what he wanted came out. Their preferences are clearly perceived; it was the color grader in fact who first saw the difference when the footage from two directors had to be graded.
The last film by Meilly that I saw was Baler which didn’t really struck me. I liked Crying Ladies better. Tikoy managed to get old Aguinaldo’s aura from Estregan’s performance, I wonder how he’d be as young Aguinaldo who was 27 years old when he became President under Meilly’s helm? [Asiong Salonga died at the same age – 27 or 28]. It must have been very, very challenging for Meilly to “exorcise” Asiong out of Estregan’s “system.” It is because I saw remnants of Asiong’s action in Jeorge Estregan’s El Presidente trailer; he was firing using two guns – “a la Fernando Poe;” the same action he added in Asiong’s for those who have already forgotten it. Understandably, it must have been one of his dream actions to be a “hero,” and who wouldn’t want to be, especially if it is your film production? Both roles were played by Estregan who is much older than the two. Kaya challenging din kay Gov..
Baler and El Presidente are of course incomparable. The latter would and should have more action and drama, Aguinaldo’s life being action-packed. I also hope that Bayani Agbayani transcends his image as a comedian. Playing as Baldomero Aguinaldo, Lolo of Ex-Prime Minister Cesar Virata must have been a real challenge for him. I hope he doesn’t make the audience laugh; otherwise, it’s EPM Virata who’d first to cry!
Anyway, Emilio Aguinaldo’s life is quite familiar to me having worked with my Cavite historian brother Isagani R. Medina who made extensive researches on Aguinaldo and Cavite’s local history. I was in fact, his main assistant: field photographer and researcher, proofreader, book layout artist, encoder, etc. The 1996 Centennial Edition of his 824-page book, Ilang Talata tungkol sa Paghihimasik (Revolucion) nang 1896-97 was the last book he edited, annotated and published. We worked on the book for two years. I shot hundreds of photographs for that particular book. Some of my memorable experiences in the book’s preparation was the actual handling of “Acta de Naic” or the Naik Agreement document from the collection of Jose P. Santos and Atty. Jorge de los Santos. I remember that my brother took a lot of time as he painstakingly tried to identify the signatories. I also personally touched to photograph the transcript of records of Dr. Pio Valenzuela at the UST Archives. I had goose bumps when I touched the transcript on thick parchment paper. I never imagined in my life that I would one day be able to hold them. Anyway, I have learned that Emmanuel “Manny” Calairo is on board as its Supervising historian, that’s great! I am quite happy about it. Knowing him personally from his undergrad days, being my brother’s student, and a follower of his ideas, historical writing style and methodology which can be gleaned from the first books he wrote and published, i.e., the book on Kawit, there is less to worry about the historical facts that would be put in the film. Manny is also an alumni of Metro-Manila College in Novaliches founded by my brother-in-law Dr. Mamerto Miranda, Jr. and later run by our eldest sister, Dr. Ligaya M. Miranda.
But our experience with Asiong Salonga last year where the producer’s so-called film ownership license made them bypass the intellectual property rights of a director, doing as such what they wanted on that basis and belief, completely disregarding the director, and what is surfacing as artistic license to change fact is what I am worrying about. Nevertheless, I respect the artistic license of a creative artist, to what extent it will be used when treating not only a historical but a controversial character is something we have yet to see. It is a crucial matter though. But I hope compromises were made and decisions done with Meilly’s rights respected. That’s important!
With the coming centennial birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio next year, El Presidente will enhance better Bonifacio’s actual role in the Revolution. If facts are presented the way they should be, Aguinaldo will be better understood by the Filipinos especially the youth, that is, if they would accept facts based on evidences, and if they were not done in exaggeration. Like in my brother’s article, “Aginaldo para kay Aguinaldo,” I expect them to highlight – Aguinaldo as Father of the Philippine Flag, the National Anthem and therefore, Father of Philippine Freedom.
I have browsed on El Presidente’s original script which Tikoy asked me to read; and Meilly’s as well sometime last August. Both end with bullets of events. But it is my hope that that’s just on paper as I have great hope for the film’s potentials because of the story and its milieu. It is not surprising that the film is said to be two-and-forty minutes long; if needs be, it can be longer. For as long as they give way to Gov’s dramatic, but not melodramatic action. Let his action speak loud not the edit or useless visual effects. If an edit distracts, that only means there is a problem, guys! But that will only happen pag nakialam na naman ang mga producer. Pabayaan nyo ang direktor, pwede ba?
Nevertheless, I congratulate Gov Jeorge Estregan for finally producing and realizing his dream film…That in itself is a FEAT! Now, we’ll see where feat and defeat comes in if at all… On Apl de Ap take — I don’t think it succeeded. It’s off the film’s beat! Hindi bagay. For the youth they say. What works on one, may not work on the other, the Asiong formula didn’t seem to work this time. Even the music theme of Asiong, La Paloma by Ely Buendia, caught on like wild fire or viral once uploaded. In fact, you may, or may not believe it, but up to now, searches on Asiong Salonga still daily land on this blogsite.
Posted in Film Appreciation and Criticism, More Thoughts & Musings | Tagged 2012 MMFF, Acta de Naic, Andres Bonifacio, Baler, Bayani Agbayani, Carlo Mendoza, Crying Ladies, DPChallenge, Dr. Pio Valenzuela, El Presidente, Emilio Aguinaldo, Emmanuel "Manny" Calairo, EPM Cesar Virata, Ilang Talata tungkol sa Paghihimasik (Revolucion) nang 1896-97, Isagani Medina, Jeorge Estregan, Mark Meilly, Naik Agreement, post a day, Thy Womb, Tikoy Aguiluz |