TaDi Snap Shots

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Direk Jose Javier Reyes introduces the concept of "maindie" film via his Cinemalaya entry Mga Mumunting Lihim (Those Little Secrets)


With the never ending debate between indie and commercial films, Direk Jose Javier Reyes comes into the picture with a happy median called "maindie".  With "maindie", Direk Joey hopes that it will bridge the two by bringing the people to love independent films and by making talents behind commercial movies experiment and continue to hone their artistry.

This is the primary idea that I learned in a recent blogcon with Direk Jose Javie Reyes.  Direk Joey is finally joining this year's Cinemalaya's Director Showcase via MGA MUMUNTING LIHIM (Those Little Secrets), the first independent film he wrote and directed.  But for Direk Joey, MGA MUMUNTING LIHIM introduces the idea of maindie.  In a writing career that spans thirty years and a listing of directorial works close to sixty movies, this is the very first time that Direk Joey ventured into making a film outside the studio system to finally join what he deems as the new directions and the true future of Philippine cinema.  Admittedly, he concedes that no mainstream studio will agree to produce a project that defies conventional storytelling and, more so, places popular mainstream actresses against their usual typecast. 
Produced by Largavista entertainment, the movie stars Iza Calzado, Agot Isidro, Janice de Belen and Judy Ann Santos.  Direk Joey shared that by bringing the mainstream stars to do a work that is produced and embodies the indie spirit, he hopes that it can be the happy median called "maindie". 

MGA MUMUNTING LIHIM is a film about friendship.  It is about the solidity of bonding among people who have known each other for years.  It is also about the fragility of friendship -- and how you can never claim to know somebody in his or her entirety.

Direk Joey said that this movie is his most personal work and is inspired by the loss of his friend.  The idea came when he was not included in the necrological service of his best friend who died.  Although he knew that the reason why he wasn't included is his inability to compose himself in a sorrowful moments, as a writer, the many what ifs he thought, and the pain of the loss of a friend, led him to writing MGA MUMUNTING LIHIM.

MGA MUMUNTING LIHIM is actually his second script that he submitted for Cinemalaya.  The first was about a gay couple and the problem of not having a legal union in the Philippines.  So as soon as Direk Joey got the go signal for MGA MUMUNTING LIHIM, he started casting the film.  Direk Joey emphasized that the film is not just about friendship it is a film created by friends.  Of course, the first actress he called on is his favorite Judy Ann Santos.  Direk Joey shared that Judy Ann, including his husband Ryan Agoncillo, is a joy to work with.  When he offered the role to Judy Ann, the actress asked, "Anong role Direk?".  He answered, "Kontrabida."  And Judy instantly said yes, "Sige, I will accept it."  Direk Joey said that's how actors and actresses want to do something different from what they usually do in mainstream movies.  Then he called on Iza Calzado and Agot Isidro and both said yes as well.  Eugene Domingo was supposed to be in the cast but because of her tough schedule, they need to find another actress.  And Direk Joey looked for an actress which people wouldn't think would do a surprising offbeat role.  And he thought of Janice de Belen.  And Janice, challenged by the role, easily said yes.

Direk Joey shared that without the kindness, time and talent given by his lead actresses, the film could not have been done.  These actresses did not only contribute their precious time but agreed to do the film pro bono out of their love for the project -- and the chance to portray roles they could not have otherwise obtained in commercial movies.

"Maindie is a movie that will have a mainstream appeal but studios won't dare to do.  Pero hindi bobo ang manonood na Pilipino.  Kailangan pakainin sila ng may sustansya, hindi puro matatamis na nakakataba, na nagdudulot ng obesity at diabetes.  Tama na ang movies na may 1980's themesong!" Direk Joey explained.  (Everyone in the room was laughing in agreement with Direk Joey).

But Direk Joey is not just promoting his film, he's also asking the public to support Cinemalaya and the excellent films that will be exhibited.  He mentioned films like Cinema Obscura, Kalayaan, Aparisyon, Sta. Nina and The Animals, among others.

Direk Joey also shared that it was also challenging to produce an indie or maindie movie.  For him, since he has mainstream stars in the cast, they need to arrange the schedule and shoot logistics very well.  He shared, "Hindi ko naman mapapatakbo si Judy Ann sa EDSA at pagkakaguluhan sya  (He candidly said), unlike studios na kayang magpasara ng kalye."  Budget was also a constraint.  He even said that their fund is just the food budget of a major studio.  But while they were challenged, Direk Joey shared that he's very happy and proud of this film.  And personally, I am also intrigued with the movie and I'm looking forward to watching it in this upcoming Cinemalaya.

Here's the film's synopsis:

How well do you know your best friends?  Do you share the belief that your friends know you so much more than your own family members?

Do you share all you secrets with your best friend?  Do you tell your best friend everything that that you think and feel about the people around you?

What do you say about your other friends when they are not with you?  Do you share your opinions and judgments about what your friends do to other people?

MGA MUMUNTING LIHIM (Those Little Secrets) is precisely about those seemingly trivial and insignificant events and issues that constitute the totality of friendship.  It is about the life shared through the years of four women and how, in one moment, they finally realize that they truly do not know one another despite the experiences that they have shared and cherished and even defined as friendship.

MARIEL (Judy Ann Santos) and CARLA (Iza Calzado) have been best friends since high school.  They have shared the years and common interests: they are both creative individuals interested in writing.  But the unfolding of years have opted two extremely different courses of the women: MARIEL chose to give up her career as a magazine writer to be a wife and mother -- while CARLA shunned marriage to become a successful advertising executive.

Into their lives came two other women: there was SANDRA (Agot Isidro) who married a man old enough to be her father so that she can afford the lifestyle that she wanted -- and OLIVE (Janice de Belen) who was happy with her domestic bliss and married to an OFW in Dubai.

The women bonded and treasured their camarederie until fate struck its blow and the bevy had to confront their mortality.

Worse than that, when one of the women exposed the truth about the real feelings and thoughts of the friends about each other, what they perceived as the security of each other's friendship turned out to be the true test of their dignity and honesty.

It is those little secrets that, when added together, constitute the most painful and irreparable damage from seemingly unimportant lies.

Here's the official movie trailer:

MGA MUMUNTING LIHIM also features Roeder Camanag, Lui Manansala, Madeline Nicolas, Gino De la Pena and Kim Komatsu.

Gala premiere of the movie is on July 25, 2012 at 9 PM at the CCP Main Theater as part of the Director's Showcase of Cinemalaya 2012.

And of course, Direk Joey also did the TaDi!  :)

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