Alix film about a fish ‘born’ to poor couple
Actress Cherry Pie Picache said her role in the Adolf Alix Jr. drama “Isda (Fable of the Fish)” was too good to pass up.
She plays a woman who is convinced that she has given birth to a fish, and treats it like a real child.
“It was a role I just couldn’t refuse,” Cherry Pie told Inquirer. “I think the simpler a character is, the more difficult it is to portray. This required more from me than many other past roles. The challenge here is to convince viewers that my character, Lina, is not deranged; she genuinely loves the fish.”
The story follows Lina and husband Miguel (Bembol Roco) after leaving rural life in Pangasinan to try their luck in the city. The couple ends up living near the dumpsite in Catmon, Malabon.
Lina gets pregnant and gives birth to a fish—a Bala shark—to the surprise of witnesses. This becomes a struggle for Lina because Miguel could not accept it. “What unfolds is a fable that questions the needs and compromises of a real family,” Alix said.
“Isda,” an entry in the Directors’ Showcase category of the 7th Cinemalaya, was written by Palanca Award winner Jerry B. Gracio.
It was Cherry Pie’s first time to work with Alix, who said he was quite taken with her work.
“She asked intelligent questions and tried to learn as much as she could about Lina,” the director said. “She even attempted to bond with the fish. I guess her being a mother (to Nio, 9) helped her relate to the character.”
Bembol was very effective as Miguel, added Alix. “He knew intuitively how his lines should be delivered. He supported Cherry Pie throughout the film. His work was compelling, to put it simply. Actually, the entire cast blew me away.”
That cast included Anita Linda, Rosanna Roces, Angel Aquino, Alan Paule, Evelyn Vargas and Arnold Reyes.
Alix said he “employed” over 10 pieces of the Bala shark species for this movie.
“This species is very delicate, a slight change of water temperature could kill it,” Alix explained, adding that filming in Malabon for 10 days was very difficult. “We shot in knee-deep water because I wanted to show what it’s like to live submerged in flood water. There’s a scene where Lina and Miguel’s house burns down. It was difficult to pull in terms of logistics, and I’m glad we pulled it off.”
Cherry Pie said working in the Malabon dumpsite was nothing less than a “learning experience.”
“I’ve been to the Payatas and Smokey Mountain dumpsites,” she explained. “One would think that, after all that time—that was eight years ago—we’d have already progressed as a country. I was stunned to see that the living conditions in Catmon are so much worse now, totally subhuman.”
The actress was all praise for her director, and said she had never worked with someone with so much energy.
“Adolf never seemed to get tired, considering that he was also directing a teleserye for ABS-CBN (‘Hiyas’) while doing this film,” said Cherry Pie. “He’s very clear, specific and detailed when he gives instructions.”
She added: “He is very hands-on. He checks on everyone, from the cast members down to the crew and utilities men. He collaborates with each one of us—he is part of the camera crew, the production design team and even the crowd-control group. This can only be because he really loves what he’s doing.”
Alix graduated magna cum laude from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila with a degree in mass communication. His first full-length film, “Donsol” (2006), was the country’s entry to the best foreign language film category of the US Academy Awards in 2007.
His subsequent films were screened in various festivals abroad. He made it to The Hollywood Reporter’s “Next Generation Asia 2010,” a list of the top 20 young personalities in the region deemed “the best and brightest among their peers.”
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