Erik Matti shares struggles of writing Bonifacio biopic
“Being the storyteller that you are, you want to present the film in the most objective way … to tell the story without thinking about what’s right or wrong, but you’re also concerned with the wokeness of the world now.”
Thus said filmmaker Erik Matti, who wrote and directed the latest Andres Bonifacio biopic “MayPagasa,” produced by Regal Entertainment.
Matti shared his struggles while attempting to write the screenplay for the movie about the national hero, whose birthday, Nov. 30, is considered a nonworking holiday.
Incidentally, being “woke” means being aware of the injustices in society.
“We wrote the screenplay for over eight months. It all boils down to a character journey of a guy who never thought of himself as someone who is as intelligent as the other fighters,” Matti said of the revolutionary leader known as “Ama ng Himagsikan.”
“That was his angst, that was why he became so gung ho at besting other leaders. [We discovered that] Bonifacio had always felt he was being pushed around because he was uneducated. This thinking led him to commit mistakes,” Matti explained.
“As a filmmaker, it’s now my responsibility not to make the audience think that just because mangmang kami, it’s OK for us to commit mistakes. It’s my job to understand Bonifacio and to present him to the audience objectively, because he became a hero in the end.
“I have to show viewers that there were consequences to his actions, that there has to be a payoff midway to the story. Since he is a historical character, that’s the most I could do for the story,” said the director of the social action-drama series “On the Job.”
“When you’re a filmmaker/storyteller, you’re always in a tight spot because you want to come up with a film with the most integrity,” Matti pointed out. “There’s a lot to be said about the depiction of ‘Heneral Luna.’ How far could Jerrold (Tarog, writer-director) veer away from that for the sake of wokeness? A storyteller can only do so much.”
“Flawed” characters are often the most interesting ones, Matti observed. “You want to present their stories in a manner that can be easily understood by your audience. However, when you start talking about higher ideologies like ethics, or even economics, you lose the mass base.”
Matti further said: “In the coming national elections, everyone will be talking about the most basic of agenda. It’s easy to say, ‘I will give you a good life by getting rid of all the criminals.’ The problem for those of us on the other side, those of us who want to correct the misconception, we always end up with less entertaining materials. When we try to be dogmatic with what we say, no one will believe us. They’d say, ‘Bakit ka galit?’ You won’t be able to convince the audience that way.”
“This elections, everyone will be going for that route: The irreverent. Sadly, kahit na kalokohan lang ang kampanya, they often get away with it.”
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