Arts & Leisure

Manananggal in the city again

Posted on August 08, 2017

GET READY to see the manananggal fly once again as Prime Cruz’s Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B will return to theaters -- this time for a nationwide release -- as part of the first Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino film festival which will be held from Aug. 16-22.

“We listened to comments and reviews during the QCinema screening [so this time] the approach differed slightly because we added scenes and scoring,” Mr. Cruz told the media during an Aug. 1 press conference at Gourmet Gypsy café in Quezon City.

The film won Best Director and Best Supporting Actress for Vangie Labalan at last year’s QCinema International Film Festival.

It tells the story of a manananggal (a human looking Filipino mythical creature which can detach its upper body from its lower half, flying at night, and preys on fetuses) named Jewel -- played by Ryza Cenon -- whose circumstances lead her to live a lonely existence until she meets and falls in love with the brokenhearted Nico (Martin del Rosario). Jewel then is torn between wanting to love him and wanting save him from himself.

The dark fantasy romance was something Mr. Cruz wanted to do for a long time.

“We made the manananggal very human and relatable. We researched a lot about it,” said Jen Chuaunsu, writer/producer, at the press conference.

Mr. Cruz said they reedited the film so the pacing is quicker and they had to reshoot some scenes and made the manananggal presence more prominent.

The film also retained a masturbation scene.

“Hunger is connected to sexuality. So we pushed the idea of female sexuality and its connection to hunger [with this scene],” said Mr. Cruz before adding they did it tastefully. The film has an R-16 rating.

Ang Mananangggal sa Unit 23B will join 11 other films at the first Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, organized by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) in order to promote Filipino films.

Other films in the lineup include Birdshot by Mikhail Red, 100 Tula para kay Stella by Jason Paul Laxamana, AWOL by Enzo Williams, Bar Boys by Kip Oebanda, Hamog by Ralston Jover, Paglipay by Zig Dulay, Patay na si Hesus by Victor Villanueva, Pauwi Na by Paolo Villaluna, Salvage by Sherad Anthony Sanchez, Star na si Van Damme Stallone by Randolph Longjas, and Triptiko by Miguel Franco Michelena.

From Aug. 16-22, no Hollywood or foreign films will be screened in cinemas nationwide.

The festival was created “in hopes to provide more avenues for local films and producers,” said FDCP chairwoman and CEO Mary Liza Diño-Seguerra during a press conference last May.

The Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino will kick off with a one-day Pista at the Park on Aug. 13, at Rizal Park in Manila. The fiesta is open to the public with free admission.

Pista at the Park will be a festive day of food, games, and performances from some the country’s biggest and brightest stars featured in the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino films and cultural performers.

Starting at 9 a.m., the day will be filled with activities ranging from baybayin writing and henna tattoo sessions, to chalk art painting, kite making and flying, to demos on animation. There will also be performances from the Sindaw Philippine Performing Arts Guild, Banda Kawayan Pilipinas, Higantes, Ati-Atihan, and IMusicAppela.

The afternoon will feature a motorcade of the PPP films and stars from Liwasang Bonifacio ending at the Burnham open field where the audience will get to interact and play games with the stars. -- Zsarlene B. Chua