A ROMANTIC drama about a man who has trouble remembering faces and a woman who has secrets of her own is at the crux of Joel Ruiz’s second full-length feature, Kung Paano Siya Nawala, which hits theaters nationwide starting Nov. 14.
“It took me four years to have this film done — I couldn’t find producers and funding,” Mr. Ruiz said during a press conference on Oct. 10 at High Grounds Café in Quezon City.
He explained that those four years of searching turned out to be a good thing because a year ago he met with TBA Studios which decided to produce his film.
Kung Paano Siya Nawala follows Mr. Ruiz’ first film, Baby Angelo, which was released in 2008. Aside from producing full-length and short films, Mr. Ruiz is also known for directing commercials including Jollibee’s “Kwentong Jollibee Valentine” series in 2017.
The ad series, which became an internet hit racking up millions of views and spawning several reaction videos worldwide, was indicative of Mr. Ruiz’s style. He describes himself as a “very emotional person and storyteller” and it’s something that will be front and center in his newest film.
“I’m really into emotions, love, and connections. Those are easy to harness with this movie because it’s all about emotions,” he said to reporters shortly after the press conference.
The film stars Juan Miguel “JM” de Guzman as Lio, a quiet and withdrawn young man who finds it difficult to connect with other people due to his face blindness, a cognitive disorder characterized by an inability to recognize faces. But Lio eventually finds himself opening up to the free spirited Shana, played by Rhian Ramos who has secrets of her own.
Both stars are also co-producers of the film, a first for both of them.
Mr. Ruiz admitted that his main character’s condition is a rare disorder and doesn’t have a reported case in the Philippines as of yet, so he based much of his characterization on existing research on the disorder and creative license.
He also noted that this isn’t the first film about face blindness but it is the first in the Philippines.
A cursory search turns up the Julien Magnat-directed Turkish thriller Faces in the Crowd (2011) which follows a woman with the same condition trying to escape a serial killer.
With his fresh take incorporating the disorder in a romantic drama, Mr. Ruiz described his film as a “hopeful tale of how people can still emerge victorious despite the many battles that love entails,” according to a press release.
He also noted that while many people might find a connection between his film and Peter Segal’s 2004 comedy 50 First Dates, starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, but said the two films are very different because, for one thing, his film is a romantic drama.
“When I read the script for the first time, I really wanted to do it. The story is beautiful and so is the character. It was challenging for me [to play]… There are a lot of parts in Lio’s life that I find similarities in my personal life… so I connect with [the character],” said Mr. De Guzman in the release.
Kung Paano Siya Nawala hits theaters nationwide on Nov. 14. — Zsarlene B. Chua