Sunshine Cruz takes off clothes, engages in ‘different types of sex acts’ with Enzo Pineda in ‘Malamaya’
Suddenly they’re all seeing her in a different light,” said “Malamaya” director Leilani Chavez of the film’s lead actress, Sunshine Cruz.
Chavez observed that “nobody imagined [Sunshine Cruz] for this role,” even her filmmaker friends who had preproduction knowledge of the project.
But everything changed “once they saw the rushes… That’s how good she is as an actor; she can own that complicated role.”
Cruz, 42, plays Nora S., a pessimistic, uninspired, middle-aged visual artist, who reignites her lost passion with an aspiring photographer, Migs, played by Enzo Pineda.
Getting in the way of their romance is a potter, portrayed by Raymond Bagatsing.
“[She] is a surprise for us as Nora S.,” said Danica Sta. Lucia, Chavez’s codirector. “She brings something unique to the character and we love it. We made her 45 years old in the film. As for Enzo, he has this millennial charm that’s so Migs.”
Chavez, who used to dabble in writing soap operas for TV, cowrote the story with Liberty Trinidad in 2017.
Chavez said they saw “a Nicole Kidman-ish vibe” in Cruz. “She’s beautiful, poker-faced, then she’ll pull the rug off your feet when she opens her mouth and spurts out the most outrageous, unabashed and callous turns of phrases.”
“Malamaya” is more than just a May-December affair, insisted Sta. Lucia, who also works as a video editor and a creative producer.
On the two lead actors, Sta. Lucia said: “Both are very professional so they made it easy for us. They didn’t need any sensuality workshop.”
Chavez observed that Cruz had “no reservations” about taking her clothes off in front of the camera. “She said since we’re also women, we’d take care of her, and we did.”
As to whether the audience can expect a lot of steamy love scenes from Cruz and Pineda, Chavez said: “[They could] expect different types of sex… As directors, Danica and I talked to our actors separately before every love scene. We gave them different intentions and that clash/tension registered well onscreen.”
“Malamaya” is an old Tagalog word that means “ashy,” explained Chavez.
“It’s a combination of ‘mala’ (like) and ‘maya’ (sparrow), or ‘like the sparrow,’ which, means the color of ash,” she explained further. “We decided to use this title because it’s an art film, so a color is perfect as a title; it reflects the more somber tone of the film and matches the main theme, which is in essence the exploration of the gray areas of love and relationships, sexual politics, intergenerational dynamics and creative ownership. Also, it’s ironic because the title is ashy, but the film is in full color. It’s because ‘Malamaya’ is ironic on so many levels.”
The film is one of the finalists of the 2019 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, will run from Aug. 2 to 11 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and in selected cinemas nationwide.
For Sta. Lucia, who has been creating videos (for advertising, TV and corporate) for almost 12 years now, making a film has always been a dream.
“I just knew that I wanted to do it,” she said. “Lei and I used to help the films of our friends, and now we’re finally doing our own first feature!”
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