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Italian filmmaker Ruben Soriquez: Filipinos are passionate actors

/ 09:48 PM July 02, 2015
Ruben Maria Soriquez. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Ruben Maria Soriquez. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

If there is one thing Filipino-Italian director and actor Ruben Maria Soriquez like about Filipino actors, it would be their unbelievable dedication to their craft.

“They are more passionate. It is less about money when they act in movies. It’s more about if they like really the script, the subject,” Soriquez told INQUIRER.net on Thursday in an exclusive interview. “And they don’t look at their watch, like in Italy they do.”

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Soriquez directed “Of Sinners and Saints”, an entry to this year’s second edition of the World Premieres Film Festival in Manila under the New Filipino Cinema section.

The film won best actor for Soriquez as well as best production design. It also stars Raymond Bagatsing, Chanel Latorre, Polo Ravales, Althea Vega, Richard Quan and Sue Prado.

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“It is my first time to work with them. I enjoyed it. I wish I can work with them again,” he said. “They don’t sigh if [I] ask for extra time.”

“In Italy they are more strict because there are unions. After 6pm, its already over time. Actors would work eight hours but not more than 10 hours,” he said.

Soriquez observed Filipino actors could work for more than 16 hours and would not complain.

“I worked with mainstream actor’s in Italy. This is their difference. They are more demanding,” he said.

Before settling in the Philippines for good in 2013, with his Filipina wife and son, the 43-year-0ld Soriquez had worked in Italy as an actor and director.

His works, though independently produced but had commercial run, are two mafia movies “The Fall of Redemption” and “The Broken Crown”. His documentary feature, “Sexocracy: The Man of Bunga Bunga”, tells about the sex scandal involving the former Italian Prime Minister.

He also used to direct documentaries, mostly about nature, for World Wildlife Fund.

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Ruben Maria Soriquez with Polo Ravales in “Of Sinners and Saints” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

First acting award

Born and raised in Bologna to Filipino father and Italian mother, Soriquez graduated in University of Bologna with a degree in Human Resources.

In 1992, he started his career in theater acting. He obtained a diploma in acting at Colli Theatre School in 2008 and since then appeared in TV commercials and plays.

He took a filmmaking course organized by New York Film Academy in Florence in 2007 and also studied scriptwriting and editing in New York.

In “Of Sinners and Saints”, the fourth film he directed, Soriquez played the lead role as an Italian priest from Rome who is assigned to a parish in Payatas and meets again the woman he used to love when he was still a seminarian. He decides to help the woman, whose six-year-old child is missing.

The best actor award he received was his first and he couldn’t believe it happened in the Philippines.

“It felt great. I wasn’t really shocked but I was surprised. I know I did a good job. But the role was not easy. A lot of emotion and physicality involved. There are also fight scenes,” he said.

“I didn’t have time to really prepare for the role. I was so busy. I produced, directed and co-wrote it,” he added.

But it looked he really did have nothing to worry about. Because of the kind of training he had, he could definitely deliver.

Soriquez said he learned a lot from his teachers from Actors’ Studio of New York. He had workshops with internationally acclaimed directors like the British Alan Parker and Italian Giuseppe Tornatore.

He was also taught of the Stanislavski’s system of acting, the same technique practiced by Hollywood actors such as Robert de Niro, Al Pacino and Nicolas Cage. “That’s my method. It is very deep,” he said.

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Ruben Maria Soriquez, Richard Quan and Raymond Bagatsing in “Of Sinners and Saints” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Controversial story

Soriquez conceived the story of “Of Sinners and Saints” together with his co- writer Bong Ramos.

“The inspiration is to talk about something really controversial and to put on the spotlight some problems here in the Philippines like child abuse, violence against women and poverty,” he said. “I want to talk about some social issues.”

He said the film would appeal so much to the Filipino audience because of its controversial story, good performances of the actors and nice cinematography.

“[They will learn that] from sacrifice comes hope. That’s why at the end of the film, there was as sacrifice. But it would let somebody else to survive.”

Wishing to create more movies in the country both for festivals and commercial run, he said he desires to act in Tagalog and also be an actor of other directors.

“I really love acting,” he said. “I want to act in every movie I’ll make. But not always as the lead actor. If the story requires a Filipino lead, why not?”

Asked whether he was to choose between directing and acting, he said: “If I want to be less stressed I choose acting, because directing is stressful.”

Soriquez is currently preparing his next film to be shot in the province of Isabela using the local language Itawis.

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TAGS: Al Pacino and Nicolas Cage, Alan Parker, Althea Vega, Bong Ramos, Chanel Latorre, Giuseppe Tornatore, New Filipino Cinema, New York Film Academy, Of Sinners and Saints, Polo Ravales, Raymond Bagatsing, Richard Quan, Robert De Niro, Ruben Maria Soriquez, Stanislavski's system of acting, Sue Prado, University of Bologna, World Premieres Film Festival
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