Cheers, shrieks, sobs at Cinemalaya

‘It was a good year for theater actors who got to share the limelight with mainstream stars like Vilma Santos’

A+
A
A-

BEST ACTOR Mimi Juareza called mom in Davao immediately after the awards show.

When the name of Jasmine Curtis-Smith was announced on Sunday night as best supporting actress in the New Breed section of the 9th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, a loud shriek was heard backstage at the Main Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

JOEY Paras dedicates his trophy to his mentors. Photos by Arnold Almacen

Observers thought it was Curtis-Smith, who had just nervously stepped off the stage after presenting several trophies.

Irma Adlawan, Curtis-Smith’s costar in Hannah Espia’s “Transit, later confessed to the Inquirer: “I was the one who screamed. I was ecstatic for Jasmine.”

Adlawan likewise won, as best actress for the same film, which focuses on the plight of Israel-based Overseas Filipino Workers whose children face deportation.

Special citation

“TRANSIT” family (from left) Irma Adlawan, Marc Justine Alvarez and Jasmine Curtis-Smith receive special citation for ensemble acting from the jury.

The entire cast of “Transit,” which includes indie favorites Mercedes Cabral and Ping Medina and child actor Marc Justine Alvarez, won a special citation for ensemble acting as well.

It was pretty obvious that Adlawan and Curtis-Smith, who play mother and daughter in the film, had bonded throughout their 10-day stay in Israel. They can even finish each other’s sentences now.

“She helped me become her daughter,” said Curtis-Smith.

RUBY Ruiz is glad that theater people are now recognized by the public.

“We had to be supportive of each other … otherwise it wouldn’t have worked,”

Adlawan added. “We talked a lot on the set. And we kept looking for rice in Israel.”

“We walked quite a distance to find a restaurant that served rice,” Curtis-Smith recalled. “On the set, before each take, we would throw Hebrew lines back and forth, to really feel and understand the dialogue.”

THE CAST and crew of “Transit,” led by producer Paul Soriano who stumbled on Hannah Espia’s concept at a pitching forum held during last year’s Cinemalaya.

Another standout was Mimi Juareza, best actor in the New Breed section for Eduardo Roy’s “Quick Change.”

A transgender performer in a Makati club, acting neophyte

Jureza could well be the first best actor in the world who received his trophy dressed in a bustier gown.

Fighting off tears, Jureza told the Inquirer that his mother was the first person he called after the awards show. “My mom is in Davao. I live on my own here. My family knew that I made an indie film, but they didn’t know that I was nominated.”

To think he almost didn’t land the part. “I read about the casting call on Facebook,” he related. “I e-mailed my photo but didn’t get a response. Good thing my friend sent another picture, which was approved.”

No gender issue

Other critics would have been in a quandary whether to declare Juareza best actor or actress, but the judges knew he was a winner either way.

NICA Santiago won special mention for the short “Sa Wakas.”

BEST director for shorts, JE Tiglao, for “Onang”

Juror Carlitos Siguion-Reyna said the jury opted to steer clear of gender issues and just focus on the craft. “We respect the film’s advocacy … but we just stuck with the scientific definition of best actor.”

Co-juror Peque Gallaga recounted: “We agreed to talk about movies and not about politics.”

Added juror Maggie Lee: “The same thing went for the New Breed best supporting actor winner (Joey Paras) who also played a cross-dresser in ‘Babagwa.’”

Best short director Paolo O’Hara, (who won for “The Houseband’s Wife”) said it was a good year for theater actors who got to share the limelight with mainstream stars like Vilma Santos (best actress, Directors’ Showcase for “Ekstra”), TJ Trinidad (best supporting actor, Directors’ Showcase for “Sana Dati”) and Curtis-Smith.

Among the winners from the theater scene are Adlawan, Paras, O’Hara and Ruby Ruiz (of “Ekstra,” best supporting actress for Directors’ Showcase).

Ruiz explained that, for her, “theater discipline spelled the difference.” Her stint with the Philippine Educational Theater Association (Peta) instilled in her the value of team work and preparation. “This is my first award…  a product of all my years in theater. But I couldn’t have done it without my fellow actors in ‘Ekstra.’”

PAOLO O’Hara’s short film is his audition piece.

JERROLD Tarog’s “Sana Dati” swept the Directors’ Showcase section.

Paras agreed: “Stage is a good training ground. That was where I grew up. I offer my trophy to Irma (Adlawan) and my other mentors. Finally, all the hard work and passion for my craft got noticed.”

Still, these theater thespians are not averse to crossing over to more commercial fare.

O’Hara, who dedicated his victory to his uncle (the late TV-movie-theater actor-director Mario O’Hara), said in jest: “I made my short film with a budget of P3,000 so that I would also get noticed and hired as an actor for television shows and films.”

Ruiz said: “People don’t know our names and faces because we melt into our characters. But now we are slowly being recognized.”

(bayanisandiegojr@gmail.com)

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Beersheva

    This is a good showcase of the richness of Pilipino talent. I just hope it does not become politicized as it becomes more successful in the coming years.

  • dorkstar

    Congrats and huge boost to the indie movie industry. How I wish that they schedule this on December instead of the dreadful MMFF which forces people to watch Filipino cinema at its worst. Seriously how many Enteng, Shake Rattle, Mano Po and whatever movie Bong Revilla does do we need each year. Poor Filipino cinema will continue if we allow studio executives keep interfering with the creative visions of the writers/directors.

  • el_latigo

    Clearly, it’s the mostly high quality Indie Films’ golden age nowadays overshadowing mainstream Pinoy movies. Which means Filipino film makers and actors are good, really good if not one of the world’s best. Kudos! If only the government will support them so they can go internationally fully, tsk!

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94