Cheers for Brillante-Nora film in Venice
Critics say superstar is ‘immense, expressive, engaging’By Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
In her hot pink terno, petite singer-actress Nora Aunor stood tall on the Venice red carpet following the long, hearty applause and positive reviews the film “Thy Womb” received after its screening on Thursday.
Aunor, lead star of the country’s lone entry in the main competition of the recently concluded 69th Venice International Film Festival, was even cited by one critic as a serious contender in the best actress race.
According to producer Larry Castillo, the film was given “a rousing ovation that lasted until the entire Philippine delegation left the cinema.”
“It was overwhelming,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer via SMS.
Critic Neil Young, who writes for The Hollywood Reporter, considered Aunor a best actress contender. His other bets were: Israel’s Hadas Yaron and Irit Shelreg in “Fill the Void”; South Korea’s Cho Min-soo (“Pieta”); Germany’s Franziska Petri (“Izmena”); and France’s Isabelle Huppert (“Bella Addormentata”).
Young posted on Twitter: “Best Actress field much more competitive with Void’s Yaron & Shelg my hunch. Then Jo Min-soo, Franziska Petri, Nora Aunor, Huppert.”
In Hollywood Reporter, Young gave “Thy Womb” a mixed review, but praised the acting, production design and cinematography.
Said Young of Aunor: “Her elfin features, so powerfully expressive of both happiness and sorrow, help make Shahela an engaging, unlikely heroine.”
In “Thy Womb,” Aunor plays Shahela, a barren midwife who searches for a woman (Lovi Poe) who can bear a child for her husband (Bembol Roco).
Young wrote: “Alluring scenery and a sympathetic lead performance help elevate an otherwise tepid, underdeveloped slice of Philippine ethno-drama.”
In Indiewire, Young described Mendoza as a “wild card” and his film as “hard-to-call.”
A review on Italian website Libre Cinema hailed Aunor as “immense.”
The superstar chose a Filipino designer for her red-carpet debut – much like her younger co-stars Lovi Poe and Mercedes Cabral.
Before flying to Italy, Aunor told the Inquirer that her terno (traditional Filipino dress) was designed by Nono Palmos. Poe’s black gown was by Cary Santiago and Cabral’s flesh gown by Harvey Cenit.
Stylist Kat Cruz had to teach Poe how to use the steamer so that her gowns would look their best in Italy. The stars didn’t travel with the usual coterie of assistants, stylists or makeup artists and had to fend for themselves during the whirlwind, four-day trip.
Their hard work, however, was amply rewarded at the premiere on Thursday.
The festival wrapped up with an awards ceremony last night.
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