‘Hesus’ is risen | Inquirer Entertainment

‘Hesus’ is risen

/ 12:14 AM August 26, 2017

“Patay na si Hesus” team (from left): Bianca Balbuena, Victor Kaiba Villanueva, Jaclyn Jose, Melde Montañez with Sadie Enriquez the dog, Chai Fonacier, Vince Viado, Moira Lang and Fatrick Tabada

When a writer becomes speechless, then you know there’s something miraculous brewing.

“I have no words,” scriptwriter-producer Moira Lang says of the unexpected success of her latest film, Victor Kaiba Villanueva’s “Patay na si Hesus,” which eventually emerged as the second highest grossing film in the recently concluded Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino. The screenings of the comedy flick, along with a few other entries, have been extended in some cinemas.


Lang is aware that the odds were stacked against the film—it was in Bisaya; it had no teen stars in the lead; it was not a romantic-comedy or a horror movie.


“I can’t stress how important this success is… It’s mostly in Visayan, but it had the whole country laughing, not just the Cebuanos. That’s the most exciting aspect. I hope it opens doors for regional cinema!”

Making the victory sweeter: The movie was not backed up by a major company and thus had no huge marketing and publicity machinery at its disposal.

“We relied heavily on early word-of-mouth screenings, proper branding and an aggressive campaign on social media,” she explains.

The strategy helped the movie overcome another handicap: the sliding screening system. (Initially, the film didn’t have a whole-day run in most theaters.) “So we posted our screening schedules as soon as we could and blasted the hell out of these posts,” Lang recalls.

Eventually, the film was given a full schedule and bigger cinemas.

“The audience came and the cineplexes responded,” she recounts. “Gradually, our screens grew in number and size, too. We started with 87 cinemas—only 30 were full screens; the rest were slide (we only had two or three screenings a day). By Aug. 22, the seventh day of the fest, we had 130 screens, most of them full schedules.”


The film’s earnings have been steadily increasing since the first day (Aug. 16), Lang reports. “Our gross on Aug. 19 doubled from Aug. 18. Our Aug. 22 gross nearly tripled the Aug. 16 gross! The numbers climb every day.”

As expected, the film did very well in Visayas and Mindanao and, surprise, surprise, in Manila.

Lang feels it’s important to tell stories in the country’s different languages onscreen. “Because the Philippines, and the Filipino, is not just Tagalog. Because an appreciation of one another’s language, culture and humor underscores not our differences, but our shared experiences and aspirations as a people.”

Lang is not from Cebu, but, after making the film, has become an honorary Cebuano, in more ways than one. “Through this film, I now understand a bit of the language, enough to get by on a road trip by myself.”

Lang gives credit to the entire cast, led by Cannes best actress Jaclyn Jose and the lovable pooch Sadie Enriquez (as Hudas the dog), as the film’s “lucky charms.”

“They are the soul of this movie,” Lang enthuses. “They make the comedy, through their deliciously deadpan delivery, sing.”

To think, Jose is primarily known as a drama queen. “She is the first and the only actor I imagined for the part. The script called for the finest class of deadpan. She delivered so much more than any of us ever expected.”

Jose says she’s “happy” that the film is a hit. “Maganda kasi … aliw lang. Siguro kasi iba ang timpla. It’s new. It’s funny without really meaning to.”

Costar Chai Fonacier, who plays Jose’s lesbian daughter in the movie, agrees: “It’s fresh. The humor, the film language and the approach are current. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. It doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it actually is.”

The film’s main writer, Fatrick Tabada, will soon make his directorial debut, says Lang.

Lang is now “on the lookout” for another material.

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“Buhay na si Hesus,” the sequel?

TAGS: ‘Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino’, Moira Lang, Patay Na Si Hesus

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