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‘Bente’ challenges ‘Transformers’

By Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:48:00 06/23/2009

Filed Under: Cinema

MANILA, Philippines?Tony Tuviera, producer of APT Entertainment, which spearheads the Sine Direk series with the Directors Guild of the Philippines Inc. (DGPI), has expressed concern about Mel Chionglo?s ?Bente? going head to head with ?Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? in cinemas this week.

?Bente? is the last of the six digital movies in the series. The match-up of a local digital movie with the sequel to a Hollywood blockbuster can be likened to David battling with Goliath.

Chionglo noted: ?We can?t do anything about the playdate; we needed to screen our film. ?He remained upbeat, though: ?[?Transformers?] has a different market. If it becomes a big hit, hopefully that would make this week a great time to watch movies and we would catch the spill-over crowd.?

Another Sine Direk filmmaker, Soxie Topacio (?Ded na si Lolo?) said the series poses a challenge to today?s audience. Chionglo agreed: ?We are offering stories that are out of the box, not the usual mainstream fare.?

No sloganeering

?Bente? is a ?political thriller? that reflects contemporary realities, Chionglo said. ?It?s not a fantasy version of drama.? It tackles the politically motivated murders of journalists and student activists.

?But it?s not just rah-rah-rah sloganeering,? the director said. ?We injected elements that should entertain a mass audience.? Which was precisely his biggest challenge as filmmaker.

?We wanted to get the right mix of realism and entertainment, which was the expertise of Ishmael Bernal and Lino Brocka in the 1970s,? Chionglo said.

He said his goal is ?to convince moviegoers that they?re missing something worthwhile if they ignore local movies.?

For ?Bente,? Chionglo cast big stars like Richard Gomez, Snooky Serna, Iza Calzado and Jinggoy Estrada to attract a wider audience. ?We had to beg some of them to accept,? he jested. ?I thank Richard and Jinggoy, [who] made time in spite of their busy schedules.?

Estrada said this, ?my first indie film ? was a wonderful experience. It?s great to work with an acclaimed director and experienced actors.?

More boon than bane

Despite a technical glitch that forced them to reshoot four sequences, Chionglo found digital technology more boon than bane. ?It made things less expensive ? and easier, not only on the set but also during post-production.?

Shot with a digital camera, the movie was blown up to 35mm film by Roadrunner and printed by Opticolors, said Chionglo.

E-mail bayanisandiego@hotmail.com



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