Every year since the Cinemalaya auditions started in 2006, the independent film festival has attracted a steadily growing crowd of aspirants.
This year, Cinemalaya, which is on its 9th edition, gathered the same diverse batch of hopefuls, including some familiar faces for its recent two-day auditions at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
“It’s good to see that even actors who have appeared in commercial movies and TV shows have come for the open call,” said Mel Chionglo, chairman of the festival monitoring committee.
Chionglo explained that the 10 entries in the New Breed (NB) section and the five finalists in the Directors’ Showcase (DS) each had “their own specific requirements.”
One filmmaker announced that he was looking for “a young Coco Martin who looks nothing like Coco.”
Adolfo Alix Jr., director of the DS finalist “Porno,” was on the lookout for transgenders or transsexuals who could act and were willing to bare some skin.
Eduardo Roy Jr. was also searching for two transsexuals for his NB entry “Quick Change”—one who is 35 to 40 years old and another who speaks Visayan.
Throughout the tryouts, audition master/indie actress Flor Salanga kept asking: “Who among you can speak Kapampangan, Bicolano, Cebuano?”
Open-call auditions are always fruitful, said Salanga, who has been doing this since the second Cinemalaya in 2006.
She recounted: “In our first auditions, Alchris Galura was discovered. He went on to win best actor that year for his role in ‘Batad sa Paang Palay.’”
On the first day of tryouts this year, 95 children and 295 adults turned up, according to Alix. “On the second day, 434 adults and 152 kids.”
“It was a record-breaking year,” said deputy festival director Tess Rances.
Nico Antonio, who top-billed last year’s DS best film “Posas,” was aspirant number 1.
Although he is the son of Joji Alonso, executive producer of Jeffrey Jeturian’s DS entry “Ekstra,” Antonio thought nothing of joining the cattle call.
Cinemalaya could be described as a great equalizer. Seasoned professionals, teen stars, total unknowns and beginners mingled freely in the long queues that formed along the CCP corridors.
Other experienced actors who attended the go-sees: Kylie Padilla, Lance Raymundo, Marife Necesito, Dominic Roco, RJ Padilla, JM de Guzman, Markki Stroem, Issa Litton, Mercedes Cabral, Bong Cabrera, Victor Medina, Nikka Valencia, Polo Ravales, Arnold Reyes, Ella Guevara, AJ Dee, Ced Torrecarion, Krista Miller and Manuel Chua, among others.
Jasmine Curtis-Smith, TV5 star and Anne Curtis’ younger sister, likewise auditioned, along with “Artista Academy” finalist Bryan Manzano.
Alix related that erstwhile “That’s Entertainment” teen idol Cris Villanueva brought along his son; and former beauty queen Joyce Anne Burton, her daughter.
Veteran character actors Menggie Cobarubbias and Alex Tiglao showed up, too.
Two comics who have been away from the limelight for a while, Blakdyak and Jograd de la Torre, were spotted as well.
Asked why he auditioned, when he had appeared in several mainstream movies, rapper Blakdyak quipped, “Why not?” He later explained that he also accompanied a nephew who wanted to break into the movies.
Not all were famous faces, of course. There were some graduates from the Star Magic workshops, and quite a few who took up acting in neighborhood talent camps.
One taxi driver said he once played a bit role in the “reenactment” portion of the religious show “700 Club Asia.”
A long-haired guy said he had played Jesus Christ in a senakulo (Passion play) but that he was willing to cut his tresses.
A precocious kid proudly claimed that child sensation Ryzza Mae Dizon beat her in the Little Miss Philippines contest of “Eat Bulaga.” She danced Ryzza’s signature cha-cha moves for the panel.
This isn’t a reality show, folks; Cinemalaya is merely evolving.