The ballad of Lilia Cuntapay
The mockumentary “Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay” was well-received at the Far Eastern Film Festival in Udine, Italy, said its director, Antoinette Jadaone, who attended the seven-day event with lead actress Lilia Cuntapay.
“The audience applauded clapped as soon as the closing credits rolled … it was overwhelming. Nanay Lilia kept waving and blowing kisses to them,” Jadaone told Inquirer.
“Six Degrees” is about a veteran bit player nominated for an acting award for the first time in her 30-year career.
It won for Cuntapay and Geraldine Villamin the best actress and best supporting actress awards, respectively, at the Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival, where the movie debuted in November 2011.
“In Udine, for a 3 p.m. screening on a weekday, a lot of people watched. They were mostly college students, since the venue was near a university,” related Jadaone. “After the screening, there was a long line of people who wanted to have snapshots with Nanay Lilia. Some asked for my autograph, too.”
A big press conference followed. “Reporters of different nationalities turned up,” said the director. “We were given headsets for translations. They were curious about how close the
story was to real life. They also asked how we got Mercedes Cabral to play a cameo. Apparently, she’s a big star in Italy, like director Joyce Bernal, whom they all love because of the movie ‘Agent X44.’” Bernal was creative consultant for “Six Degrees.”
Jadaone added: “Americans, Italians, Swedes and Brits said they now understood Pinoy humor because of the film.”
“Six Degrees” will be screened at the 2012 Pusan International Film Festival in South Korea in October.
Prior to the Udine fest, Jadaone, Cuntapay and Villamin, line producer/production manager Daphne Chiu and music composer Ayn Marie Dimaya chatted with us after a special screening of “Six Degrees” at the Inquirer offices in Makati City.
Did you really shoot at Lilia’s house?
Jadaone: Yes, in Blumentritt (Manila).
What were the challenges of shooting there?
Jadaone: Actually wala. Si Nanay Lilia kasi, superstar do’n.
How long is your hair exactly?
Cuntapay (letting down her hair, which falls all the way to her buttocks, and making her famous “aswang” face for the photographer): Every month ko pinapaputulan ito for the past four years. ’Di ko po kasi afford bumili ng maraming shampoo. Humingi po nito si Mon Confiado (actor).
How did you come up with “Six Degrees”?
Jadaone: This was originally a short film titled “And the Winner Goes To…”
I submitted this to Cinemalaya the year before and we made it to the semifinals, but it was still in narrative format. I rewrote it, changed it into a mockumentary, then submitted it to Cinema One with the same title.
How did you meet Lilia?
Jadaone: I work for GMA 7 and Nay Lilia always has TV appearances there.
What was your initial reaction to the project, Lilia?
Cuntapay: Parang ayaw ko pang maniwala. Sabi ko kasi, gusto ko nang huminto. Na-convince ako ni Direk. Sabi niya, “Nanay, pagkakataon mo na ito. Binigay niya ang script sa akin at nagandahan po ako.
What was your reaction to winning best actress?
Cuntapay: Masaya po ako sa pagkuha ng award. Itong si Myra, ang aking PA, napagod sa akin kasi makulit po ako.
Dumami na po ba ang offers since manalo kayo?
Cuntapay: Dumami na ang tawag. ’Di pa rin maiwasan ang mga nanloloko. Kagaya ng “Bourne Legacy.” ’Di ako tumanggap ng apat na araw na guestings sa TV5 and GMA 7 dahil lang
doon. Di naman ako tinawag. Pero na-realize ko na, kung ’di para sa akin, okey lang; bibigyan ako ng Diyos ng kapalit. Kagayan nito, di ko naman pinangarap maimbitahan sa Italy for this.
Was that your first trip abroad?
Cuntapay: Medyo bata pa ako nung nagpunta ako ng Canada and Massachusetts (United States). ’Di niyo po naitatanong, nung bata pa po ako, ’di ako babae. Lalaki po ako. Noong dumating na po ako ng 45 years old, after my optional retirement, nagpahaba na po ako ng buhok.
Jadaone: Ikwento mo, Nay, kung bakit…
Cuntapay: Naka-plaster ang breasts ko. Lalaki ang porma ko. Napolcom po kasi ako.
Chiu: Bawal po ba ang babae doon?
Cuntapay: Maraming babae pero gusto kong maging lalaki at that time.
Weren’t you once a teacher, too?
Cuntapay: Oo anak, sa primary grade, in Tuguegarao City.
Do you have children?
Cuntapay: Wala po, pero marami akong pinalaki, apat po sila. ’Yung doktor na nasa US, pamangkin ko po—dalawa sila na andoon na sa Riverside, California. Gusto na akong kunin, pero sabi ko, kaya ko pang buhayin ang sarili ko
How much of the film is based on Lilia’s real life?
Jadaone: It’s 90 percent scripted, 10 percent ad lib. Everything was based on research. I interviewed Nay Lilia in a public place just to check people’s reactions. When we did the hospital scene, nagpa-picture pa sa kanya ang mga nurses kaya nairita ’yung ibang pasyente.
What was it like working with Ms Lilia?
Villamin: Sobrang interesting niya as a person and as a coactor.
How did you end up in show biz?
Cuntapay: Marami po akong kaibigan sa show biz. Nag-workshop po ako. Doon ako napansin ni Direk Peque (Gallaga) at Lori (Reyes). Sina Laurice (Guillen), Charlie Davao at Jessie Ejercito kasama ko rin. Forty kami sa first batch ng Actor’s Workshop ng LVN. ’Di ko na nakikita ang mga kasabay ko; baka mga milyonaryo na.
Lilia, you used to be a talent agent?
Cuntapay: ’Di na po. Maliit lang ang sweldo ng mga talents, ’di pa nababayaran kung minsan.
What are your plans for the movie?
Jadaone: There are talks for a commercial release. Gusto talaga namin ’yon kasi work of love ito, inisip ko magpa-screening to thank all those who supported us. Sana matuloy before the world ends (laughs).
What have you learned from directing your first full-length film?
Jadaone: Kailangan may panahon ka. I was really pressed for time. Very fickle pa ako—kailangan ko ng panahon para makita ko ang mali at itama ito.
Will you keep making films after this?
Jadaone: Sana. Actually bago ko gawin ’to, pakiramdam ko, ’di ko kayang tapusin. ’Pag ganito ang material dapat makikipag-bond ka talaga sa subject mo. I did.