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De Leon’s ‘Citizen Jake’ as metaphor of an unchanging country

/ 12:03 AM March 07, 2018

Mike de Leon (left) directs Atom Araullo.

Award-winning filmmaker Mike de Leon’s comeback movie, “Citizen Jake,” finally premieres with two screenings this month at the UP Cine Adarna, University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

Broadcast journalist Atom Araullo, who makes his acting debut as the movie’s titular reporter, told the Inquirer that he’s “excited” about the UP screenings.

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“As the first public screening of ‘Citizen Jake’ draws near, we the filmmakers, are filled with anticipation and a great sense of relief that we have managed to bring this collaborative film to completion,” De Leon told the Inquirer.

The incessant buzz surrounding the film is quite understandable, considering that De Leon’s last movie, “Bayaning Third World,” was released in 2000.

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“To some people, ‘Citizen Jake’ has become an object of curiosity,” the director pointed out. “Why would I make a film after 18 years? To others, it’s just a case of ‘hype,’ and to others still, an object of sustained interest … why this kind of film?”

De Leon made the rationale behind the film crystal clear, though. “Ostensibly, it is dramatic fiction told in film, a strong drama of a dysfunctional family, made so by animosities mixed with political corruption, continuing feudalism and paternalism. But there are many elements of documentary truth and metacinema in it and sometimes the lines are blurred.”

He clarified: “It is ultimately not about journalism, but about the inner journey of a privileged young man who happens to be a journalist, ‘kung sa liwanag o dilim, kayo na ang humatol.’”

It’s a portrait of a young Filipino as a reporter in these troubling times.

Atom Araullo in “Citizen Jake”

He described his film’s main protagonist, thus: “Caught up in a tragic past that is not of his own making, he has gone through life trying to escape it, but unwittingly finds himself continuing it, creating new circumstances that constrict rather than liberate him.”

De Leon, however, reiterated that his latest film “is more than the story of this young man. In a sense, as Atom, my lead actor and one of my cowriters, remarked: It is a metaphor of this young man’s country, unchanging, repeating the same mistakes generation after generation.”

He asserted: “So rather than ask who Citizen Jake is (Is it Mike? Is it Atom, the other filmmakers, or a combination of everyone?), a better question to ask would be, ‘What is Citizen Jake?’ We hope the film transcends us all.”

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The first screening, which is by invitation only, will be held on March 10, 7 p.m. The premiere is sponsored by The Probe Team, UP Cineastes’ Studio and UP Cinema as Art Movement (UPCam).

A second screening, which is open to the public, is scheduled on March 13, 7 p.m., also at UP Cine Adarna. Tickets, priced at P150, can be reserved online. The March 13 event is sponsored by the UP Cineastes’ Studio and UPCam. Check the film’s Facebook page for details.

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TAGS: Citizen Jake, Mike de Leon
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