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IN COMPELLING INDIE
Community of fortune-tellers comes to life

By Noelani Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:31:00 09/04/2009

Filed Under: Cinema

MANILA, Philippines??I?ve always been meeting fortune-tellers by chance,? shares Paolo Herras, writer and director of ?Ang Manghuhula.? If you believe in fate as the movie?s characters do, however, all those chance encounters may have been more than mere random occurrences.

?Ang Manghuhula? is Herras? third film and, like his first two, it draws from a central image. ?Lambanog,? his first, centered on an enchanted bottle of the drink, while ?Rekados? played with the visual and metaphorical possibilities of food and food preparation. ?Coming from a literary background, I?ve always loved using metaphors,? explains Herras. ?After doing movies about drink and food, I thought I?d do one about cards.?

Like ?Rekados,? his latest film explores the relationships of three generations of women. The lead character, Messina (Eula Valdes), is a fortune-teller who no longer wants to see into the future. Circumstances force her to escape from her community?a village that seems to be made up mostly of fortune-tellers?and to leave her mother and daughter behind. There?s no running away from the past, however, and she finds herself having to go back in order to save her daughter (Glaiza de Castro) from becoming the town?s next seer.

Solid actors

Valdes gives a performance that manages to be compelling without being over-the-top. She is supported by solid actors, including De Castro, Chanda Romero (as Dorothea, her mother), Emilio Garcia, Pinky Amador and Bella Flores.

Apart from its fascinating subject matter, colorful characters and marquee cast, the production is notable for its visual richness and clarity. The use of high-definition camera no doubt enhanced the depth and crispness of each meticulously composed scene. More than a few images will linger in your memory, especially those that dip into magic realism. In the script, which Herras cowrote with Marlon Rivera, an entire community of fortune-tellers comes to life.

?Ang Manghuhula? gears up for wide release on Sept. 9. Herras hopes to attract an audience beyond the usual arthouse crowd. He adds: ?We wanted to make a film that would bring audiences back to the theaters.?



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