CineFilipino: ‘Ang Tulay ng San Sebastian’ set to sow terror
Mythology and folklore have always been ingrained in the culture and psyche of Filipinos that when one happens to pass a deserted bridge in the middle of the night, his imagination runs wild.
But what if those firmly held illusions of ghosts suddenly become real?
This is what the psychological-horror film “Ang Tulay ng San Sebastian” wants to explore just as it is set to sow terror in the upcoming CineFilipino Film Festival this month.
Directed and written by Alvin Yapan, the film follows an ambulance driver and a nurse who are headed back home in the province, trying to keep each other awake by sharing road ghost stories in the midnight of Good Friday.
In the story, Bong (Joem Bascon) and Francis (Sandino Martin) realize that the San Sebastian Bridge is haunted after seeing a white lady, a floating coffin and even a chilling reenactment of a massacre of passengers of a commercial bus line.
Both men then traverse the bridge’s underbelly where they get separated and fight for their survival.
“It is an all-out horror film,” Yapan told INQUIRER.net. “I want to dig into that psyche behind Filipinos’ belief in superstitions and mythical creatures, especially those involving a ‘road’.
The film was shot in Puente de Malagonlong, one of the oldest bridges in the Philippines, also the longest one, built during the Spanish era in Tayabas, Quezon province.
“Passing the same route again and again, white lady, tyanaks (mythical monster babies), (and) zombies. All elements of horror are in this film,” he said.
Yapan is the man behind the films “Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe (Cinemalaya, 2009)” and “Mga Anino ng Kahapon” (MMFF New Wave, 2013) which were partly strewn with bits of fright.
He said he has observed ghost stories are often connected to the fear men possess.
Compared to his another award-winning indie “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (Cinemalaya 2011)” that also features two men as lead characters, Yapan said he wanted to examine this time the things men are ultimately afraid of and how their fears would manifest as they pass along a creepy road.
“I want to expose the weaknesses and anxiety of men when they lose control…their fear of the society, their fear of women and fellow men, their fear of relationships,” he said.
Martin shared similar thoughts about the film.
“It is a psychological-thriller because you won’t know what decisions the characters would make throughout the story. One is bold, the other one is coward,” he said. “You would see how these things would work out between two different men who are in the same boat and the same time, they are conflicting when it comes to personal interests.”
“Meeting Joem and watching him perform changed my view of the script as an actor and my take of the story as a whole. That’s the best process for me—that we were able to give the film the psychological feel and we did it authentically,” he said.
Though he found the role challenging because of the strenuous physical demands the film required, Bascon said he learned a lot from his amazing experience with Yapan.
“We know how director Alvin creates scenes. You would think they are just normal events until you finish the whole movie and realize how things are interrelated. And he doesn’t give everything. You have to think what happened in the story and what its message is,” he said.
For its second edition this March 16-22, CineFilipino will showcase other finalists in the feature-length competition: Carla Marie Baful’s “A Lotto Like Love”; Randolph Longjas’ “Van Damme Stallone”; Frank David Fabros’ “Straight to the Heart”; Lemuel Lorca’s “Ned’s Project”; Ice Idanan’s “Sakaling Hindi Makarating”; Jason Paul Laxamana’s “Ang Taba Ko Kasi”; Dexter Hemedez and Allan Ibañez’s “1st Sem”; and Paolo Alessandro Herras’ “Buhay Habangbuhay”.
Presented by PLDT-Smart, MediaQuest and Unitel, the film festival will run at Gateway Cineplex, Edsa Shangri-la Cineplex, Greenhills Theater Mall Cinema, New Port Cinemas, Robinsons Galleria, Robinsons Manila, Robinsons Metro East and Eastwood Mall.
MARCH 16, WEDNESDAY
1-2:30PM | Newport Cinema, RWM
6-7:30PM | Robinsons Galleria Movieworld
8:15-10PM | Gateway Cineplex, GALA NIGHT
MARCH 17, THURSDAY
2:35-4:05PM | Eastwood Cinema
5:05-635PM | Greenhills Theater Mall
5:10-640PM | Gateway Cineplex
MARCH 18, FRIDAY
1:25-2:55PM | Robinsons Metro East Movieworld
4-5:30PM | Shangri-La Cineplex
6:30-8PM | Festival Mall Cinema
8:30-10PM | Gateway Cineplex
MARCH 19, SATURDAY
2:25-3:55PM | Gateway Cineplex
8-9:30PM | Greenhills Theater Mall
8:30-10PM | Shangri-La Cineplex
MARCH 20, SUNDAY
6:30-8PM | Eastwood Cinema
6:30-8PM | Robinsons Metro East Movieworld
8:30-10PM | Festival Mall Cinema