MANILA, Philippines – An erotic drama-thriller that serves as a tribute to the classic Peque Gallaga movie “Scorpio Nights” is among the entries in this year’s Cinema One Originals film festival, which will kick off on November 28.
Director Ato Bautista said his latest film titled “Palitan” is the closest he can get to “Scorpio Nights,” which has been described by many as a magnificent exercise in erotic moviemaking.
“It’s a risqué movie,” Bautista said of “Palitan” in a press conference for Cinema One Originals 2012 on Tuesday. “It took seven years to make.”
Released in 1985, “Scorpio Nights” tells the story of a college student who had an affair with his neighbor, a housewife married to a security guard. The movie starred Daniel Fernando, Orestes Ojeda and Anna Marie Gutierrez.
An unrelated sequel titled “Scorpio Nights 2” was released in 1999. It was topbilled by Albert Martinez and Joyce Jimenez.
“Palitan” is only one of the ten entries in Category B of the Cinema One Originals 2012, with each film given a P1-million production budget. The others include “Aberya” by Christian Linaban, “Anak Araw” by Gym Lumbera, “Ang Paglalakbay ng mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim” by Arnel Mardoquio, “Catnip” by Kevin Dayrit, “Edsa XXX” by Khavn dela Cruz, “Mamay Umeng” by Dwein Baltazar, “Melodrama Negra” by Ma. Isabel Legarda, “Pascalina” by Pam Miras, and “Slumber Party” by Emmanuel dela Cruz.
Three movies belonged to Category A and were each given a P2-million budget. Cinema One channel head Ronald Arguelles said the three movies – “Baybayin” by Aureaus Solito, “Mater Dolorosa” by Adolf Alix Jr. and “Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi” by Richard Somes – were given a larger budget because of their commercial viability.
“The festival is definitely bigger now in terms of content, variety and ambitions compared to the past years of Cinema One Originals. We have something for everyone not answered by mainstream cinema,” Arguelles said.
On top of the competing films in the festival are screenings of three restored films that have greatly contributed to the foundation of Philippine cinema – “Oro Plata Mata,” “Himala” and “Genghis Khan.”
Another Gallaga film, “Oro Plata Mata” will serve as the opening film for the Cinema One Originals 2012 on November 28 at the Robinsons Galleria Movie World in Ortigas. “Himala” starring Nora Aunor, meanwhile, marks its 30th anniversary this year.
The Cinema One Originals 2012 will run from November 28 to December 9 at Robinsons galleria Movie World and from November 29 to December 4 at the Edsa Shangri-La Cineplex in Mandaluyong City.
Below are the synopses of the competing films in this year’s festival:
CATEGORY A (P2 MILLION)
Director: Auraeus Solito
Cast: Alessandra de Rossi, Assunta de Rossi, Adrian Sebastian, Sue Prado, Mon Confiado
What it is about: Set in the pristine coasts of El Nido, Palawan, “Baybayin” tells the story of two half-sisters who fall in love with one man who is deaf mute. Having no way of communicating with the love of their lives, both women learn Baybayin, an ancient Palawanon script, to prove that love can speak even in silence.
Director: Adolf Alix Jr.
Cast: Gina Alajar, Cogie Domingo, Alessandra de Rossi, Carlo Aquino, Joem Bascon, Mercedes Cabral, Philip Salvador
What it is about: Lourdes Lagrimas, the Filipina counterpart of Don Corleone of “The Godfather,” is known to be the head of all illegal activities in an old district of Manila. Despite this, she wants to shield her youngest son Benjamin from being involved in her family’s activities.
Mariposa sa Hawla ng Gabi
Director: Richard Somes
Cast: Erich Gonzales, Alfred Vargas, Mark Gil, Joel Torre, Maria Isabel Lopez, Rez Cortez, John Lapuz
What it is about: Set in the year 1994, the film tells the story of an innocent woman named Maya who sets a journey to Manila to find her long-lost sister. But her harmless purpose will lead her to a horrifying discovery that will change her life forever.
CATEGORY B (P1 MILLION)
Director: Christian Linaban
Cast: Will Devaughn, Mercedes Cabral, Iwa Moto, Nicholas Varela
What it is about: “Aberya” takes the audience on a journey through the rough side of Cebu. The film revolves around four individuals – an egomaniac Fil-Am boxer on a pleasure trip, a prostitute from Luzon out to accomplish a mission, a local drug dealer experimenting with time travel, and a social climber from Mindanao caught up in a scandal. It tackles issues such as sex, drugs, religion and activism presented in pop art form.
Director: Gym Lumbera
Cast: Jay de la Vega
What it is about: Shot in black and white, “Anak Araw” is a tragic colonialism love story that springs from the search of a local albino for his identity in an imagined past of Taal Lake. He believes that he is a son of an American, thus he tries to learn English through reading translations and definitions from a Tagalog-English dictionary. He lives amidst a town facing exodus due to precarious events such as appearances of sharks and unexplained explosions and deaths.
Ang Paglalakbay ng mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim
Director: Arnel Mardoquio
Cast: Fe “Gingging” Hyde, Irish Karl Monsanto, Roger Gonzales, Glory Pearl Dy
What it is about: The film presents the many facets and intricacies of the Bangsamoro struggle in Mindanao. It narrates the story of three Muslim rebels trying to elude arrest from their captors, and a nine-year-old boy who seeks vengeance for the murder of his parents. Their individual struggles in Mindanao will show heart-rending images of war, friendship and companionship.
Director: Kevin Dayrit
Cast: Lauren Young, Maxene Magalona, Rommel Luna, Ramon Bautista, Megan Young
What it is about: Liv is an introvert at home, constraining her true personality because “everything she does is wrong” due to overblown parental ego. She enjoys the company of her friend Cieca since she can be her “rough” self in front of her and can be loved for who she is. The people behind “Catnip” are the same ones behind the controversial indie film “MNL 143.”
Director: Khavn dela Cruz
Cast: Epy Quizon, Althea Vega, Sheree, Bong Cabrera
What it is about: Set in the year 2030, The Republic of Ek-Ek-Ek had just elected their new president, Three Eyes aka Kulas Missing-Marbles. The street simpleton won the election by a landslide but he will later on discover that his presidency was all part of an intricate conspiracy. This homage to Pinoy B-movies is a tribute to the late King of Comedy Dolphy, and is the first and only full-length film shot entirely in Corregidor and in fisheye.
Director: Dwein Baltazar
Cast: all non-actors except Sue Prado, who will play a supporting role
What it is about: The movie tells the story of Mamay Umeng, an 84-year-old man who wants nothing more than to end his long life. But death has always eluded him; it is a neverending game of hide and seek, to which he has always played along. One day, Mamay decided to hunt down his very own demise.
Director: Ma. Isabel Legarda
Cast: Gee Canlas, Jerald, Napoles, Bong Cabrera, Sheng Belmonte, Cindy Lopez, Ria Garcia, Cai Cortez, Mara Lopez, Bembol Roco
What it is about: The film revolves around cancer-stricken Dee, her dead friends Gomez and Lim, blood-hungry sociopath sisters Twinkle and Candy, their friend Bing, and wealthy father and son Congressman Ramirez and Rex. In the midst of limbo, murder and sex, what really matters in the end are the choices these people make as they play out the synchronized realities forming the dark melodrama that is life.
Director: Ato Bautista
Cast: Mon Confiado, Mara Lopez, Alex Medina
What it is about: “Palitan” is set in the gritty street of Raon, Quiapo in Manila, a third-world commercial avenue where everything from dildos to car parts are sold and can be bargained for at a certain price. Nestor becomes buried in debt from his cunning boss, Ramiro. But this time, Ramiro wants something more than money – his young, lovely common wife Luisa.
Director: Pam Miras
Cast: Maria Veronica Santiago, Peewee O’Hara, Cara Eriguel, Alex Vincent Medina
What it is about: After a series of unpleasant events in her life, Pascalina receives news that her aunt Taba is dying but cannot do so unless she passes on a curse. Thinking that it was only a joke, Pascalina visits her dying aunt and began experiencing changes in her life that will push her to the edge of madness.
Director: Emmanuel dela Cruz
Cast: Markki Stroem, Archie Alemanya, RK Bagatsing, Sef Cadayona, Niño Muhlach
What it is about: Set in the night of August 23, 2010 (heated bus hostage-taking of Hong Kong nationals in Quirino Grandstand and the Miss Universe pageant), three gay friends decide to throw a slumber party as part of their yearly vigil to support the Philippines’ representative to the prestigious pageant. The supposedly fun spectacle of the three was cut short when Jonel, a young frat boy, burgled their “castle.”