The Rights Stuff


6 PH Films in New York

By Inquirer.Net — 23 June 2018

Abra in “Respeto”Abra in “Respeto”

Six Filipino films are headed to the Big Apple, for a major event spearheaded by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema.

The 17th New York Asian Film Festival, which will be held from June 29 to July 15, will feature: Richard Somes’ “We Will Not Die Tonight,” Irene Emma Villamor’s “Sid & Aya: Not a Love Story,” Treb Monteras’ “Respeto,” Mikhail Red’s “Neomanila,” and Erik Matti’s “On the Job” and “BuyBust.”

According to organizers, this year boasts the country’s “largest lineup” in the annual event, with “three strong films [that] examine the nation’s ongoing war on drugs: “Neomanila,” “Respeto” and “BuyBust.”

Mainstream Filipino stars like Erich Gonzales (“We Will Not Die Tonight”), Dingdong Dantes (“Sid & Aya: Not a Love Story”), Anne Curtis (“BuyBust,” “Sid & Aya”), Eula Valdes (“Neomanila”), Abra (“Respeto”), and Piolo Pascual and Gerald Anderson (“On the Job”) headline the entries.

“We’re very happy that our small film got invited,” Somes told the Inquirer. “It’s really heartening. At least, the hard work of Erich and the entire cast and crew would be seen in New York, no less.”

In the gritty urban drama, Gonzales portrays a stuntwoman who gets embroiled in a hairy, and potentially deadly, situation.

The invitation also made Villamor do a double take. “I was actually surprised that the fest would include my film on its roster. But I am glad that it will be shown there. I am excited to find out the viewers’ reaction.”

Erich Gonzales in “We Will Not Die Tonight”Erich Gonzales in “We Will Not Die Tonight”

Although “Sid & Aya” is a romantic-comedy, it zooms in on an unlikely couple: an insomniac stockbroker and his flighty assistant.

“Respeto” is one of seven films competing in the main tilt. “I am excited because finally my film will be screened in the birthplace of hip-hop,” Monteras remarked. “This is a big opportunity to showcase Pinoy hip-hop culture.”

Red is proud to be part of a strong Filipino contingent. He commended the fest’s focus on popular fare. “I love the fact that it highlights well-crafted genre cinema, spotlighting a different side of Filipino cinema,” he said.

Matti agreed: “Genre has been very underrated. Academics and cinephiles often dismiss it and doesn’t consider it ‘serious’ cinema. I think genre is the most effective vehicle to smuggle in ideas and bring it to a wider audience to be heard.”

He explained that the inclusion of “BuyBust” in the program is propitious. The action flick, which topbills Curtis as a drug enforcement agent, will open in the Philippines in August and in the United States and Canada on Aug. 15. “I’m hoping we will reach a wider audience with this.”

The fest will present “BuyBust” and bring back Matti’s 2013 movie “On the Job” as part of a tribute. Matti asserted: “It isn’t so much that they chose to do a tribute to me personally, but it is more about validating genre movies in the Philippines. That it is as much a legitimate form of cinema as arthouse films and that it is in fact the best direction for Philippine movies to get mass appeal with our local audience.”

Matti elaborated on the virtues of genre cinema: “We are, after all, a very emotional people who love thrills, cheers and tears. And we’re never really the cerebral type. It’s time that we embrace genre filmmaking in this country.”

According to its site, the New York fest gathers “films that reflect on contemporary society, while offering extreme genre pleasures.”


This article was first published here.