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This screengrab from the YouTube account of Cine Art shows Jaclyn Jose (left) and Roli Inocencio in a scene from Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s "Ma’ Rosa."

‘Ma’ Rosa’ gets date for Philippine debut

Alvin Dacanay Before I ForgetGood news for those eager to watch Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s newest film Ma’ Rosa: No need to wait much longer. Last week Mendoza and Wilson Tieng, president and CEO of Ma’ Rosa distributor Solar Entertainment, confirmed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the award-winning drama would be shown in cinemas nationwide starting July 6. 

The confirmation effectively dispels talk of Ma’ Rosa as a possible entry to this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, and gives moviegoers the chance to watch the performance that won Jaclyn Jose the best actress prize at last month’s Cannes Film Festival while her triumph is still fresh.

Ma’ Rosa’s playdate also puts the film into consideration for inclusion in the shortlist of movies from which the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) shall select the country’s official entry to the Academy Awards next year. That list may include Lav Diaz’s eight-hour-plus opus Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery), which garnered the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer award at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year.

(To digress a bit: Speaking of the FAP, how come it is yet to release its list of nominations for 2015? What’s keeping it? Its website is saying nothing about it.)

Let’s hope moviegoers, not just cineastes, support Ma’ Rosa during its commercial run. A number of independent films that premiered to critical acclaim in festivals didn’t even last a week—or reach a second day, in some cases—in cinemas because no one was interested enough to watch. Even when they did last a week, they’re often overshadowed by more mainstream movies or, in rare cases, another indie film that resonated more with audiences.

That’s the case with Mendoza’s previous film Taklub (Trap). Despite the positive reviews it received at Cannes last year and the fact that it stars Nora Aunor, the movie struggled to find a wider audience last September. It didn’t help that the film was shown at the same time Jerrold Tarog’s Heneral Luna was. As we all know, the biopic generated loud buzz and robust ticket sales after social-media users who watched it on its first or second day in cinemas clamored to keep it there.

This is not to say Heneral Luna didn’t deserve the attention and acclaim it got from Filipino audiences. It did; so does Taklub. As some of my friends have remarked, how come many of those demanding for smart, high-quality Filipino films never (get to) watch them when these get regular runs in cineplexes? It’s really a mystery, and I imagine it’s one that many would find hard to respond to.

Thanks to the publicity that Jose’s prize-winning performance created, Ma’ Rosa has a chance to make a decent profit at the box office. But that will only happen if people, fickle as they are, go out and watch it.

Author-director seeks support 

Speaking of Aunor, she is set to star in Kristian Sendon Cordero’s second feature Hinulid. It was chosen in April as one of eight finalists in the Circle Competition category of the Fourth Quezon City International Film Festival, which will be held in October.

Cordero—whose poetry, fiction and essays have earned prizes at the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and the National Book Awards—said Hinulid was inspired by fictionist Carlos Ojeda Aureus’s story “The Night Express Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore,” and focuses on Sita Dimaiwat, a devoutly Catholic overseas Filipino worker whose son died in a fraternity hazing in Manila.

Sita “decides to cremate her son’s remains and travels back to Bikol as she reckons and reconciles how her life story is intimately rooted in the folk stories and religious devotions, despite the unending and repeated stories of human violence,” the author-director said.

“Aided by a walkman, Sita listens to the recording of his son’s law lessons and tries to hold on to what is left for her. In a filial act of mourning she will prove that memory is stronger than justice and that even the most broken life can be restored to its moments,” he added.

Hinulid is considered a homecoming of sorts for Aunor, as it would be her first time to speak in her mother tongue—Bikol- Rinconada—on screen. The movie will be shot entirely in Camarines Sur province. For those curious, the film’s title refers to the reputedly miraculous images of the Santo Entierro (Dead Christ) that are now housed in the chapel of Barangay Cagbunga in Gainza town.

Independent filmmakers always face challenges when it comes to funding their projects, and Cordero is no exception. He is appealing for contributions of P1,000 from at least 1,000 people that would beef up the production budget of Hinulid, which will start shooting on July 1.

In return, Cordero promises to include the contributors’ names in the acknowledgements section at the end of the film, as well as give them a copy of the commemorative program with their names in it, and an autographed poster of the movie.

For instructions on how and where to deposit, and for more information on the film, visit www.facebook.com/ HINULID-starring-Ms-Nora- Aunor-354709138070306/

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