SINILOAN, Laguna—Award-winning director Celso Ad Castillo hopes he is fetched up from his house in this bucolic town by either film producer Chits Jimenez or any staff of Cinema One, the movie cable channel, to attend tonight’s 6th Cinema One Originals Film Festival awards rites at the Dolphy Theater of ABS-CBN.
Castillo, a veteran filmmaker who has started directing local movies since he was 21 years old, has no transport to speak of.
“Kung mamamasahe naman ako papunta doon, ano naman ‘yon?” he wondered in our exclusive interview with him Saturday night.
Celso has been “in recluse” for years now but this doesn’t mean he has retired from filmmaking and the bustling socials of show biz.
As a matter of fact, he has two unfinished films, “Ang Exorsismo,” formerly billed “Sanib 2,” a horror caper, starring Nadine Samonte and “OFW,” a story on overseas Filipino workers top billing Coco Martin and again, Samonte.
“Naghahanap na lang ako ng additional funding para matapos ko ang mga ‘yan. Nakaka-one hour na ako sa ‘OFW’ at mga three or four shooting days na lang ang ‘Ang Exorsismo.’ I just need at least P350,000 to finish them off,” he confirmed.
Just a few days ago, he was brought to a Megamall cinema and interviewed by entertainment talk show host Boy Abunda for his TV show in Cinema One.
He was also around during the re-showing of his 1980s masterpiece, “Mga Lihim ng Kalapati” at the Fully Booked U View at Bonifacio High at The Fort where he reunited with his then production designer Brillante Mendoza and his lead actress Isadora. The event was organized by a group of young critics headed by ex-pat Jojo de Vera to acquaint contemporary film students and enthusiasts, moviegoers and ordinary viewers about the significance of past movies in the lives of the Filipinos.
In the last two occasions he was provided a car to be able to grace the events.
Castillo lives in his ancestral abode with his newfound love Ofel and their children in this idyllic place in Laguna less than a 100 kilometers away from Manila.
According to Celso, he’s raring to go back to the grind. “I need a business manager because I wouldn’t want to beg for work. Maybe I would want to do TV soap opera and other stuff,” he confessed.
Tonight, he said, when Cinema One Originals bestows him with Cinema One Originals Tribute with younger filmmaker Lav Diaz, he would refresh Ronald Arguelles, head of Cinema One and brains behind Cinema One Originals Film Festival about his proposal of television shows.
At 65, an age many wouldn’t believe, Castillo has made more than 60 films, many of them prizewinning like “Daluyong at Habagat,” “Burlesk Queen,” Asedillo,” “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” “Snake Sisters,” “Totoy Booigie, “Nympho,” Ang Daigdig ay Isang Butil na Luha,” “Uhaw na Dagat,” “Ang Babaing Pinagtaksilan ng Panahon,” “Julian Makabayan” and others.
Three years ago, Celso was diagnosed with a stage 1 lung cancer but had to be detected again after some medications. “Now I have recovered. I don’t smoke anymore. I don’t drink anymore,” he announced.
His recognition by Cinema One testifies to his renewed participation in the burgeoning independent moviemaking.
“I am happy I am part of the resurrection of the local film industry by means of digital filmmaking. This award is like a resuscitation of the dying industry,” he opined.
“Kaya lang, dapat, gumawa ang current crop of indie filmmakers ng maiintindihan ng mainstream market,” he added.
He recalled that he was the one who paved the way for independent filmmaking. “Ang dami kong ginawa sa mga movie production out of the big studios. Noon, mga walang malalaking budget pero nagagawa ko,” he said.
For Castillo, there should be no labeling of “mainstream” and “indie” films. “Pare-parehong pelikula ‘yan,” he quipped.
“Sa quality lang nagkakatalo at sa equipment na ginagamit,” he shared.
For him, too, if the local film business couldn’t give him his desired objective, there is no way for him to evade international filmmaking. “’Yan ang target ko, international,” he said.