Rae Red’s psychological thriller “Tenement 66,” which features teen star Francine Diaz, will be having its world premiere at the 25th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea this month.
The annual movie fete, which features productions in the horror, thriller, mystery and fantasy genres from Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia, will run from July 8 to 21.
“I froze while reading about the news on my cellphone. I didn’t really expect our film to be included,” said Francine when Inquirer Entertainment asked for her reaction to the news during a one-on-one Zoom chat on Tuesday afternoon.
“Tenement 66” is included in the Bucheon Choice: Features category. While Francine has yet to receive word from film producers Epic Media and Dreamscape Entertainment about what her participation in the festival would be, she said she already feels “happy and grateful that our humble project has been chosen. Whether or not we bring home an award, I already consider this a blessing. Not all actors my age are given this rare opportunity.”
In “Tenement 66,” Francine plays Lea, who connives with her neighbors (Francis Magundayao and Noel Comia Jr.) to rob the apartment of a man whom she had also witnessed stealing. Each with a problem they want to escape, they force their way into the unit but are caught shortly after, leading to bloody altercations and to Lea being held hostage.
Francine recalled that she worked on the film in October 2020, while the whole of Luzon region was on lockdown, and shortly after final airing of the top-rated ABS-CBN drama series “Kadenang Ginto” of which she was a part.
“I said ‘yes’ to the project because I liked the role. I got used to playing the sweet Cassie (in ‘Kadenang Ginto’). She never gets physical when she’s angry. Lea, on the other hand, is something else. She is brave, angsty and fearless. Playing her was memorable. I never imagined I’d be able to portray someone like her. This is an achievement that I was proudly able to unlock.”
Francine said another reason she accepted the movie was that she got to work with Red, who is also the director of “Bala at Baril,” the film that won for its lead star Janine Gutierrez two acting awards.
Francine is a cast member of the ongoing drama series “Huwag Kang Mangamba.” She is a member of the phenomenally popular group “The Gold Squad,” along with her onscreen partner Kyle Echarri, as well as with Andrea Brillantes and Seth Fedelin.
Also during the interview, the 17-year-old actress talked about being part of a family with six children and being their breadwinner. Francine also admitted that this has an effect on her personality. “At home, baliw ako. I enjoy playing with my younger siblings. But when I’m out of the house, I’m always serious and very focused on my work because I’m doing this to help provide for my family. This is also why some people say they find me intimidating. I’m actually very approachable. I just look masungit sometimes because I take what I do seriously,” she explained. In terms of self-love, Francine said: “I’m still learning how to love myself. I’m slowly getting there. Admittedly, I still choose to prioritize my family’s needs over what I want to buy for myself. There were times when I’d save up for something that I really want, but when I can finally buy them, I’d still decide to give the money I’ve saved to my family for food and grocery items. That’s just me,” she pointed out.
As for the kind of projects Francine agrees to do, being a breadwinner is also foremost in her thoughts. “As long as I know I’ll be comfortable portraying the character and I’ll be with people I like, I’ll accept. Right now, I just go with the flow. I want to be able to grab all the opportunities that come my way because I know this is only a temporary thing. So far, I’ve not turned down any projects yet. Tanggap lang ng tanggap.” INQ