Film with Filipino actress in title role opens in Denmark
It was a high-tech screen test. Filipino actress Mercedes Cabral “auditioned” for the title role in Frederikke Aspöck’s “Rosita” via Skype. In fact, she had come rather highly recommended.
Cannes-winning Filipino filmmaker Brillante Ma. Mendoza gave Cabral’s name to the Danish director whom he met in Marrakesh, Morocco. Mendoza previously directed Cabral in the internationally acclaimed films “Serbis,” “Kinatay” and “Thy Womb.”
Cabral recalled, “After an exchange of e-mail, Frederikke’s producer and my manager (Shandii Bacolod) set up a Skype meeting for us.”
Coffee and beer
The cyber chat turned out to be candid and a tad unconventional, she recounted. “There is a seven-hour time difference between Denmark and the Philippines. So while Frederikke was having coffee, I was drinking beer.”
On Skype, she admitted that she had never experienced winter, (the director remembers the actress’ hair being blown every which way by an electric fan). When she arrived in Denmark last year for the shoot, Cabral was daunted by the freezing weather.
“I had never seen snow prior to this trip,” she said, adding that the weather was “the biggest challenge, but the staff made sure I was warm and comfortable.”
She spent a total of two months in Copenhagen and Hirtshals, a small fishing town on the northern tip of Denmark. “We devoted two weeks to script reading and rehearsals,” she said, “the rest of the time to actual filming.”
She was impressed with the shooting system. “We shot every day, except on weekends, for eight to 10 hours. We had 12 hours of rest between shoots, so we could get sufficient sleep.”
How she wished the same efficient work style were the norm in the Philippines! “I hope the way we make movies and TV shows improves someday.”
Cabral noticed that most actors in Denmark had formal training. “They didn’t get into the industry just because they were good-looking. They really worked hard.”
She had to work double time to keep up with coactors. “I didn’t study acting; I consider myself lucky that I got to work with these amazing actors and learn from them. They encouraged me to contribute to every scene.”
These coactors include Jens Albinus, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Julie Agnete Vang, Mads Riisom and Lise Baastrup Nielsen. Albinus starred in Lasse Hallström’s controversial film, “Nymphomaniac.”
Much as she had “so much fun” at work, Cabral said she picked up a lot of pointers from the Danish thespians. “They were absolute professionals—patient, understanding and brilliant.”
It was a “collaborative” work environment, she said. “Our director had a clear vision and was very specific about what she wanted from us in every scene,” Cabral said. “But she was open to suggestions. She made sure I was at ease on and off the set. She even invited me to dinner with her family.”
In “Rosita,” Cabral plays a mail-order bride torn between a lonely old man and his son. “Our goal is to make people more aware of complications that can arise from this situation,” she said.
Cabral will travel back to Copenhagen for the premiere of the film, which opens in Danish cinemas on April 16.
After “Rosita,” the actress has three independently produced Filipino films lined up—Pedring Lopez’s horror flick “Binhi (The Seed),” Ralston Jover’s drama movie “Dog Show” and Jay Altarejos’ advocacy film (on domestic violence) “Love Hurts.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.