MANILA, Philippines – Veteran director and writer Jose Javier Reyes admits to feeling old standing next to the young filmmakers competing in this year’s Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, which opens on Friday.
Reyes, fondly called Direk Joey in showbiz circles, is part of Cinemalaya’s Directors Showcase with “Mga Mumunting Lihim,” which he wrote and directed. He will be up against young directors Lawrence Fajardo for “Posas,” Jun Lana for “Bwakaw,” Adolfo Alix Jr. for “Kalayaan” and Raymond Red for “Kamera Obskura.”
Director Jose Javier Reyes gives instructions to actress Judy Ann Santos during the shoot of the Cinemalaya entry "Mga Mumunting Lihim"
“Feeling ko ako ang pinakalolo sa lahat ng mga gumawa ng pelikula sa Cinemalaya,” he said during the recent launch of the annual indie film fest.
But at the same time, the director of the highly successful “Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo” film series said he is also thankful to be taking part in Cinemalaya.
“Ang laki-laki ng pasasalamat ko. The very fact na nakatayo ako dito kasama ang 20 sa mga batang filmmakers ay nakakapagbigay buhay sa aking dugo dahil alam mo na tuloy na tuloy ang tradisyon ng paggawa ng pelikulang Pilipino,” he said.
“Mga Mumunting Lihim” tells the story of four long-time friends played by popular film and TV actresses Judy Ann Santos, Iza Calzado, Agot Isidro and Janice de Belen. When one of them dies, she leaves behind a diary that contains “all the little secrets that the women kept from one another -- all the hidden emotions, stories and comments that made their lives a sham.” What they discover in the diary “completely shatters" all their perceptions and beliefs of the friendship they shared through the years.
Reyes calls “Mga Mumunting Lihim” a “personal” film and its premiere at Cinemalaya coincides with the first death anniversary of his close friend and fellow filmmaker Don Escudero, who passed away in July last year after a two-year battle with cancer.
“Ang pelikulang ito ay tungkol sa pagpanaw ng isang kaibigan, ang kahalagahan ng pagkakaibigan at, higit sa lahat, sa dinamidami ng panahon, totoo bang kilala mo ang iyong mga kaibigan,” Reyes said.
The director also thanked his stars for agreeing to do the indie movie.
“Ang pelikulang ito ay ginawa rin sa ngalan ng pagmamahal at pagkakaibigan dahil sa apat na artistang hindi ko akalain na makukuha kong gumanap sa iisang pelikula at ni isang kusing walang siningil sa akin,” he said.
Although Reyes has made many award-winning movies such as “Oro, Plata, Mata,” which he wrote for director Peque Gallaga, and “Live Show,” which he wrote and directed as the official selection for the Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival, he said he is most satisfied with “Mga Mumunting Tinig.”
“Sa dinamidami ng mga pelikulang ginawa ko, pinakamasaya siguro ako dito dahil sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon, nakikita ko ang imahe at naririnig ko ang
sarili kong tinig sa pelikulang nagawa ko,” he said.
“Ito pala ang pakiramdam maging isang filmmaker,” he added.