After a successful screening at the Vatican, the Filipino-produced movie 'Ignacio de Loyola' can now be watched locally when it premieres nationwide on July 27.
The film focuses on St. Ignatius’ life before he founded the Society of Jesus, when he had to give up his dreams of knighthood, with all the chaos that it brought,which eventually led him to the path of sainthood.
“It’s far more interesting to see how he started and finding that quiet that almost destroyed him. It was that drama that we wanted to do because there are lots of things to learn from that,” said director Paolo Dy.
Dy said though the scenes happened centuries ago, people of today will still be able to relate to Ignacio's struggle to find fulfillment and happiness, especially in the Battle of Pamplona which left him critically injured and forced him to give up his dreams of military success.
"This is the struggle that almost destroyed him, it consumed him but in overcoming it, he came to the realization, a revelation that became the basis – the core principle – of what the Society of Jesus is today and it continues to affect the lives of millions of people," he said.
Fr. Nono Alfonso SJ, the film's executive producer, meanwhile likens the chaos that Ignacio--Iñigo, before his spiritual conversion--lived in to the present world, and the purpose people constantly search for.
"Rick Warren’s famous line [in his book The Purpose-driven Life] “it’s not about you; it’s about God” and Ignatius said that many centuries ago. He was ahead, so that’s his gift: if we’re looking for the meaning of our lives, the purpose of our life in this chaotic world, you will not find it by being selfish; maybe you can focus on God, on a greater meaning," he said.
That's why despite the story telling the life of a saint, the filmmakers wanted to make the characters relatable, and showed even the vices and troubles Ignatius struggled with.
"Is it a saint film? It’s a sinner film. So whoever you are, you’d be able to relate to some part of this journey. And we really wanted to make it a human story," said Dy.
"There’s a transformation--he was womanizer, he was sinner, he was a soldier. he liked to drink as well and he liked to fight. After being with different women, he was in love with Catalina (Catherine) de Aragon," actor Andreas Muñoz said of his character, adding it's Ignatius' transformation that attracted him to doing the film.
The film is produced by Jesuit Communications, with an all-Filipino key staff and a support team and cast composed of people coming mostly from Spain and the United Kingdom.
With a limited budget, Dy said they decided to invest on Arri Alexa XT, a state of the art digital line of cameras used for many Hollywood films such as Marvel’s Avengers.
“The philosophy is you try to maximize what you can do. So you can’t really build massive sets or anything, but if your camera package is good, your lens package is good. And of course we have brilliant cinematographer Lee Briones,” he said.
This is Dy's first feature film, and Alfonso explained that they chose him to be able to connect better with the younger audience. The big production may be something new, but Dy explained, it's consistent with a Jesuit teaching.
"Jesuit-trained people will always talk about 'magis'—doing more, greater things. That really came through in this film. It suddenly developed into something that was pretty big. The ambition was there, the heart and the will had to catch up," he said.
A special screening of 'Ignacio de Loyola' will be held on July 23 at 4 p.m in Solaire Resort and Casino, with a live performance of the musical scores composed by Ryan Cayabyab performed by the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, and conducted by Gerard Salonga.