Filipino actress has two films in Cannes
It hit Angeli Bayani that she had nothing to wear for the Cannes fest only after securing a French visa last week.
“I realized that I had to attend at least five red-carpet events there,” she said.
She had little time to think about sartorial matters. She had been deep in the forests of Davao shooting Sari and Kiri Dalena’s “The Guerrilla is a Poet,” an entry in the coming Cine Filipino fest.
In sheer panic, Bayani turned to friend Kalila Aguilos, Philippine Theater Actors Guild president.
Aguilos immediately posted a plea on Facebook. After just a few hours, Bayani heaved a sigh of relief. “Heartening,” she described the quick response of designers like Joey Samson, Boy Domingo, Nikki Veneracion and Fanny Serrano (“no less”).
If these fashion experts seem inspired, that’s because Bayani holds the distinction of having two films in Cannes this year: Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz’s “Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan” in Un Certain Regard and Singaporean director Anthony Chen’s “Iloilo” in the Directors’ Fortnight.
Bayani’s “Norte” costar Sid Lucero also has two Cannes entries. He is also in Adolfo Alix Jr’s “Death March,” also in Un Certain Regard. Unlike Bayani, however, Lucero won’t be flying to Cannes. “It’s a pity,” she said
Lav’s short film
More than anything, Bayani said, she’s happy for Diaz. “It’s his first time there. After all,” she jested, “he made a short film for Cannes.”
At four hours, “Norte” is considerably shorter than Diaz’s previous epics like “Death in the Land of Encantos” (nine hours) and “Melancholia” (eight), which won prizes at the Orizzonti section of the Venice fest.
Bayani walked with Diaz on the Venice red carpet for “Melancholia” in 2008. “I was supposed to go with him the year before, for ‘Death,’ but I was pregnant,” she recalled.
In Venice, she got a valuable tip from Diaz. “We were at this event and I saw the crowd cheering for a man. I thought he was an actor. But Lav corrected me—it was director Wim Wenders.”
She realized that, in Europe, directors are as celebrated as actors.
She explained the French fest’s significance for her, personally: “Lots of artists dream of going to Cannes. I won’t deny I’m one of them. More than anything, it means that, as an actor, you are being recognized for your hard work. It’s an honor.”
She’s proud to join the “Norte” team on the red carpet for the movie’s world premiere on May 23.
Her colleagues had to point out to her that it’s a major feat to be part of a Filipino film and Singaporean movie at the same time.
“I didn’t give it much thought until other filmmakers told me that it’s rare for a Filipino to attend Cannes for a foreign film,” she said.
(Last time a Filipino had two Cannes films was in 2009, when Mercedes Cabral starred in Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s “Kinatay” and Korean filmmaker Chan-wook Park’s “Thirst.”)
Bayani also plans to reunite with the “Iloilo” team on the red carpet when it premieres on May 19.
“That’s why I have to leave the country on May 17,” she said.
She’s now fixing her schedule because she still has to finish the shoot of “Guerrilla is a Poet,” where she portrays the wife of a real-life revolutionary. “It’s a huge responsibility,” she said of the role. She cut and curled her hair to look like the woman she’s portraying.
“Now I look different from the long-haired characters I played in ‘Norte’ and ‘Iloilo,’” she said. “In ‘Norte,’ I’m the wife of a convict. In ‘Iloilo,’ I’m a nanny in Singapore.”
If a guerrilla is a poet, an actress is a chameleon.