‘Katips’ director hopes Famas buzz spells big audience
Two films that have stirred controversy for their contrasting views on the regime of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. open today in cinemas.
Vincent Tañada’s film musical “Katips: Ang Mga Bagong Katipunero” attempts to portray the struggle of activists amid the repression of martial law, while “Maid in Malacañang,” by filmmaker Darryl Yap, is set in the final days of the Marcoses in the Palace against the backdrop of the 1986 Edsa Revolution.
“Katips,” which had 17 nominations at the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (Famas) Awards, bagged seven trophies at the Famas ceremony last Saturday — including the top prizes of best picture, best director, and best actor for Tañada, and best cinematography for Manuel Abanto.
The musical also won best score for Pipo Cifra, best original song for “Sa Gitna ng Dulo” (written by Tañada and Cifra) and best supporting actor for Johnrey Rivas.
“Maid” was not a competing entry in the Famas, but the top consultant in that film, Sen. Imee Marcos, was awarded the honorary Famas Exemplary Award for Public Service.
After his movie’s awards night success, Tañada said more cinemas have now expressed interest in showing it.
“I must admit that our victory at the Famas helped the film a lot. Now, I know that there will be people who will watch it because of the interest it received from the jurors and organizers,” said the actor-director who also produced his film musical and wrote its screenplay and libretto.
He admitted that he felt “extremely stressed” during the awards night at the Metropolitan Theater because Marcos was there.
Tañada claimed that organizers of the awards ceremony had asked him to make sure that his companions wouldn’t heckle the senator, the eldest sister of President Marcos Jr.
“I’m also a teacher of theater arts. I had requested…balcony tickets so that my students could watch — all 200 of them,” he recalled. “Senator Imee arrived just before I received the best director trophy. My students ha[d] been clapping and cheering each time ‘Katips’ would win [an award]. But when I stepped down from the stage, a Famas staff member approached me to say, ‘Can you please ask your audience to leave? This is because the staff of Senator Imee is concerned that the senator might [be] heckled.’”
“I was surprised by the request,” he continued, “but I replied, ‘These are my theater arts students and they mean no harm.’ I was then asked to simply talk [to] them to make sure they don’t scream at the senator when it was time for her to [accept] her award.”
“They were so concerned that I was approached by different Famas staff members five times,” Tañada claimed. “To be fair, one of them was an official, who I [w]ould say was the most polite. Can you imagine how stressful that was for me? I understand why they did it, that’s why I didn’t take offense.”
‘Bashers and trolls’
The director said he had “been getting a lot of negative comments from bashers and trolls since I announced that my movie will be competing with ‘Maid in Malacañang.’”
He also had to deny rumors that he was part of the Famas organizing committee and was himself the director of the ceremony.
“Someone posted on social media about my participation in last year’s show. A screenshot of the 2021 show’s end credits, with my name as director underlined, ha[d] been circulating online. Yes, I directed last year’s Famas ceremony, but I inhibited myself this year out of delicadeza, since my film was a nominee,” Tañada said.
“I also swear that prior to us receiving all those awards, I didn’t have any idea… who would win,” he added.
Martial law experience
When asked about the research behind his movie, the director, a grandson of the late Sen. Lorenzo Tañada, said: “People questioned me when I said I was a martial law victim because… I’m too young. I’m 48 now. I was… in my formative years during martial law. [But] you are a victim too, if you’ve seen your grandfather being incarcerated.”
“They said we were NPAs. Yes, we were. We had No Permanent Address. We kept transferring homes because we were afraid. That kind of life was hard for a child. I may not have personally experienced torture or incarceration, I may be too young to join rallies on the streets, but I was very much a victim,” he added.
Tañada, who is also a lawyer, said he was “emotionally invested” in the film because he represented Claimants 1081, a group of martial law victims going after the Marcos ill-gotten wealth in the courts.
“I’ve spoken with Hilda Narciso, a female detainee [who was] repeatedly raped while in detention. I spoke with a lot of women like her. You can’t say they’re lying because they corroborate each other’s stories without meaning to. I included their stories in my movie but changed their names. It’s a multi-character, multi-plot kind of film,” he said.
Tañada admitted that he wanted his film to be screened at the same opening day for “Malacañang.”
“Besides, more Hollywood movies will be released in the coming weeks. I thought it’s better to battle with another locally produced movie. At least, we have a fighting chance,” he said.
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