Mexican actor misses Cinemanila opening rites

By Boy Villasanta,

Posted at Oct 19 2009 05:22 PM | Updated as of Oct 20 2009 01:25 AM

MANILA - Fans of Hollywood and Mexican film actor Diego Luna, who made a mark as an adventurous teen in Alfonso Cuaron's “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” need not lose hope at this time of the day when he didn't make it to the opening rites of the 11th Cinemanila International Film Festival at the Market! Market! Cinema Thursday evening.

The fete has just begun. There is still more than a week ahead of the awards night where he might show up.

It was heralded weeks before the first day of the event that Luna would be in Manila to grace the film festival but hours to the opening date, the Mexican telenovela star sent a note to organizer Tikoy Aguiluz saying he couldn't make it to the premiere night.

“He is still shooting a film in Mexico,” informed Aguiluz shortly after the showing of Brillante Mendoza's “Lola,” which opened the festival.

Luna, added Aguiluz, is directing a full-length film for the first time.

But his avid admirers need not worry, though, according to the Filipino filmmaker.

“Anytime between today and the last day of the festival on October 25, Diego Luna might just pull off a surprise,” he said.

Despite Luna's absence, Cinemanila went on as scheduled.

Threats of impending tropical depression to enter the city also didn't dampen the excitement and spirit of guests, foreign dignitaries, artists, celebrities, filmmakers, press and local politicians who milled around the lobby for photo shoots and pleasantries.

After cocktails were served, a short program inside the movie house ensued where Taguig City, the host of this year's celebration, and its mayor, Sigfrido Tinga, delivered his speech on the importance of cinema in our lives.

“The start of the new decade for Cinemanila heralds the continuing emergence of Filipino films as an art form that is not only distinctly Filipino in substance and style, but also a global medium that transcends cultural and social boundaries.

“Cinemanila has grown tremendously with its advocacy in revitalizing the local film industry by nurturing the birth and growth of a new breed of Filipino independent filmmakers,” said Tinga.

Aguiluz underscored the importance of artists being abreast with the ordinary life.

“Artists including film artists are not living in ivory towers anymore. They are part of our daily ordinary grind. Look at Lino Brocka who was very attached to people's struggles,” he observed.

He also stressed the occasion rising above adversity and trials. “Although the country has been devastated by floods, we don't see any reason why we must postpone this year's celebration. As a matter of fact, we dedicate this one to the upliftment of the sagging spirit of the people.

“As a tribute to the victims and heroes of Bagyong Ondoy, Cinemanila is presenting Project Tropical Storm: Mga Imahe sa Loob ng Bagyong Ondoy, a moving image compilation of stories from people affected by the devastation of the recent typhoon,” explained Aguiluz.

He said the films will be screened in various barangays using Cinemanila Sine Barangay Caravan.

The banging of the gong, one of Cinemanila's images, by Aguiluz and Tinga, assisted by Kate Tinga, co-chair, 2009 Cinemanila Executive committee, signaled the start of the festival.

Seen during the event were actors Ronnie Lazaro, John Arcilla, Spanky Manikan, actresses Maria Isabel Lopez, Racquel Villavicencio, Marife Nececito, Anita Linda, Susan Africa, filmmakers Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil, Emmanuel de la Cruz, Raymond Red, Armando Lao, Mendoza and many more.