‘Dance of the Steel Bars’ cinema dates extended


MARNIE Manicad, Dingdong Dantes, Cesar Apolinario and Stu Highton, executive producer of Portfolio Films

The play dates of the independent film “Dance of the Steel Bars” in 13 SM cinemas nationwide have been extended another week, Cesar Apolinario, one of its directors, announced on Tuesday.

“SM approved the extension because it finally saw the film’s potential to perform well at the box office,” the director said. “The key here is to let more people know that ‘Steel Bars’ is still being shown today.”

According to Apolinario, “It (the movie) is doing really well right now,” considering that it’s been up against “Man of Steel”—the latest installment of the Hollywood “Superman” franchise—since both films opened in theaters on June 12.

“We hope that word of mouth will encourage more people to see it,” Apolinario  pointed out. “It would be sad for moviegoers to be so blinded by the spectacular special effects of a Hollywood production that they would neglect this small film with a big heart.”

At press time, “Steel Bars”—inspired by the true life stories of Cebu’s dancing prison inmates—has already received nine rave reviews from various publications, the director added.

Apolinario said the film was initially scheduled for screening in May. However, he said, its producer, Portfolio Films, opted to move the play date, on account of the  election period

“We didn’t want politics read into it,” he explained earlier. “But aside from this week, there were no more available slots for local films. It seemed no other film project was courageous enough to go against a Hollywood giant.”

Limited screening

On June 13, Portfolio sent a complaint letter to SM management after receiving reports that some movie houses had discontinued screening of “Steel Bars” at 4 p.m. on the first day.

“SM responded by saying that the decision not to show  ‘Steel Bars’ [during peak hours] was a prerogative of the individual malls,” associate producer Medy Ezra told the Inquirer by phone. “We pointed out to them that, because of what happened, our film wasn’t given a fair chance, at least that day, [so we were not able] to see whether or not it could perform well.”

Ezra seemed unsure that the extension would do the film any good. “All our efforts at promoting the film were focused on the Independence Day weekend. Now, we will  have to gather more funds in order to promote it for a second week,” she said.

The movie was screened on June 7 at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), where most scenes in the film were shot.

It was based on the stories of the CPDRC’s 1,600 prisoners, who perform dance routines as part of their daily exercise and rehabilitation. Several such performances were filmed and uploaded to YouTube, and became extremely popular.

Another request

Ezra said it sent another letter to SM on June 18, requesting that the film “be screened during peak hours so more people would get to watch it. We hope that the branches assigned to show it for a second week will comply.”

Apolinario said it took only eight days to shoot the entire film, which he codirected with Marnie Manicad, but three years to finish post-production. “It is the result of our blood, sweat and tears,” he said. “It’s now up to Pinoys to embrace the movie.”

“Steel Bars,” a coproduction of GMA Films and Portfolio Films, features Hollywood actor Patrick Bergin, as well as local thespians Dingdong Dantes, Joey Paras, Mon Confiado, Ricky Davao, Thou Reyes, Gabe Mercado and Kathleen Hermosa.


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  • Jane L.

    This seems to be insulting and unjust to Filipino films in many ways. One is that Filipinos are patronizing american films and not supporting our own. Second is that SM malls are not providing equal opportunity for proper screening of the film with the necessary time frame. If this is how they would treat the film, they should’ve just declined its screening on those screening dates (To SM: Don’t be money hungry!!! Support your own films as well.) Third is the lack of acknowledgment of what appears to be a great film, which filipinos can be proud of. Fourth is that the producers of the film spent 3 years to produce the film and this is how their end product is treated. I’m sorry but this is just very shameful for those who patronize other countries than their own. I have not seen the movie yet because I live in California. But if I was given the opportunity to see the movie, like majority of people in the Philippines. I will definitely see it!

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