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05 May 2006

auraeus solito and jeffrey jeturian

two friends are winning accolades worldwide as committed filmmakers.

"ang pagdadalaga ni maximo oliveros" (the blossoming of maximo oliveros), by auraeus solito (also known as kanakan balintagos, his aboriginal palawanon name) will have its australian premiere on 12 and 13 may at the sydney opera house during the 6th message sticks (australian indigenous film festival). no filipino film has ever been exhibited at the opera house. this is so unprecedented.

auraeus was my student in communication classes at the university of the philippines from 1989 to 1991. i have nothing to do with his success. but I can vouch for his integrity as a person and as an artist. his sister arlene was my seatmate in college. the solito siblings grew up near the slums of sampaloc (manila) where i was also born and raised. auraeus worked very hard to qualify as a student at the philippine science high school and the university of the philippines. he took up creative writing and theater in college.

prior to maximo, auraeus received acclaim for directing the music video of the eraserheads' "ang huling el bimbo." the video paired band members ely buendia, marcus adoro, raimund marasigan and buddy zabala (my student in humanities 1, 1990) with actress wena basco (another former student). the video bagged prizes at the n.u. 107 rock awards locally and the mtv international music awards at the radio city music hall in new york. i caught the music video for the first time on cable tv when i was studying at cambridge in 1996. tired and homesick, i cried buckets of tears being haunted by the video's replications of sampaloc under marcos and martial law.

by late 2005, robert redford's team had selected maximo to land in competition for this year’s sundance film festival (america’s most prestigious film festival). maximo's selection turns out to be a first for the philippines. the film has also received many best picture prizes and citations from berlin (germany), montreal (canada), rotterdam (netherlands), las palmas de gran canarias (spain), turin (italy), imagineNative (international film festival of indigenous films, toronto, ontario, canada), asian festival of 1st films (singapore) and cinemalaya (manila) film festivals.
maximo was also selected as the opening film at the 35th new directors/new films series, presented jointly by the film society of lincoln center and the museum of modern art's film and media department. maximo had its new york premiere at the walter reade theater in lincoln center and at the titus theater at MoMa.
most recently, maximo was exhibited at the bay area's kabuki theater during the 49th san francisco international film festival last 20 april to 4 may 2006.

meanwhile, jeffrey jeturian ’s recently-completed digital film "kubrador" (the bet collector) has been accepted in competition at the 2006 moscow international film festival.

"kubrador" revolves around “jueteng,” the game of numbers dating back to the country's spanish colonial period (1521-1898). to this day, jueteng lords and operators are sprawling all over the country. though illegal, jueteng affects the lives of individuals and institutions back home. former philippine president joseph estrada was thrown to face an impeachment trial allegedly because of his involvement with jueteng.

the last filipino films selected for competition at moscow were gil portes’ "saranggola" (the kite) in 1999 and "mga munting tinig" (small voices) in 2003. the kite, starring lester llansang and ricky davao, was scripted by the multi-awarded butch dalisay. small voices, featuring alessandra de rossi, was written by senedy que, adolf alix jr. and gil portes.

jeffrey took up broadcast communication at the college of mass communication, university of the philippines. immediately after college, he moved up the professional ladder, from being production assistant (e.g. marilou diaz-abaya's "alyas baby tsina" starring vilma santos), script supervisor (e.g. maning borlaza and leroy salvador’s "bituing walang ningning" starring sharon cuneta; eddie garcia's"saan nagtatago ang pag-ibig" starring vilma santos and "huwag mo itanong kung bakit" starring dina bonnevie; leroy salvador's "sa hirap o ginhawa" starring sharon cuneta), art director/production designer (e.g. chito rono’s "eskapo," "dahas" and "davao" tv series on rpn 9; national artist ishmael bernal’s "dear teacher" tv series on ibc 13; abs-cbn's "maala-ala mo kaya,"; gma 7's "gma telesine," "anna karenina" and "villa quintana"), assistant director and television director (e.g. "legal forum," "maala-ala mo kaya," "kirara," and "pira-pirasong pangarap") over a 15-year period before finally fulfilling his dream of becoming a full-fledged film director in 1998.

jeffrey’s debut film "enter love" (sana pag-ibig na,1998), is a moving narrative about a mistress and her deceased lover's son. shot on a measly budget of US$50,000, the film bombed at the box-office. however, “enter love” received glowing reviews from the local critics. it also received numerous citations and awards especially best actress prizes for 1950s superstar nida blanca. "enter love" turned out to be blanca's last great film role before she was murdered in 2001.

jeffrey’s 2nd film is arguably his most definitive. "fetch a pail of water" (pila balde,1999), a homage to national artist lino brocka, problematizes the plight of slum dwellers and their struggle for survival. the film was commercially and critically well-received. it won a netpac jury award at the 1st cinemanila international film festival in 1999 and a gold award at the 2000 worldfest international film festival in in houston, texas (u.s.a.). likewise, the manunuri ng pelikulang pilipino has selected fetch a pail of water as one of the 10 best philippine films for the 1990s.

jeffrey’s third film, "larger than life" (tuhog, 2000), satirizes the state of filmmaking in the philippines. the film also makes a powerful statement about the propensity of mainstream filmmakers to beautify and sanitize reality at the expense of truth and in the name of commerce. “larger than life” was selected in competition at the cinema of the present section of the 2001 venice international film festival.
in venezia, larger than life was shown alongside alfonso cuaron's "y tu mama tambien", antoine fuqua's "training day" (denzel washington's oscar-winning film with ethan hawke), clare peploe's "the triumph of love" (starring mira sorvino and ben kingsley), alejandro amenabar's "the others" (starring nicole kidman), the curse of the jade scorpion (starring, written and directed by woody allen), fruit chan's "hollywood hong kong", david mamet's "heist" (starring danny de vito and gene hackman), albert and allen hughes' "from hell" (starring johnny depp), milcho manchevski's "dust" (starring joseph fiennes and australia's david wenham), steven spielberg's "a.i., artificial intelligence" (starring haley joel osment, jude law and william hurt), jill sprecher's "13 conversation about one thing" (starring matthew mcconaughey) and mira nair's "monsoon wedding" (that year's golden lion winner for best picture). larger than life also received best picture awards from the 2001 star awards for the movies and the 2001 urian awards while garnering another gold award from the 2002 worldfest international film festival in houston, texas (u.s.a.).
i remember working on the lyrics of larger than life's incidental music (by south border's jay durias). jessica zafra did the other lyrics. afterwards, i helped around with the film's english subtitles. unfortunately, the subtitles in italian were hurriedly done by another filipino academic. at venice, they appeared notoriously medicore. fortunately, larger than life's strong visuals overwhelmed the awkward translations.
on the way to the venice red carpet, jeffrey gamely posed for the press from gondola to gondola. later, he sought the assistance of a regal-looking bystander to have his grand arrival photographs recorded for posterity. the "photographer" turned out to be the legendary jeanne moreau. though a bit shaken by his sudden discovery, jeffrey persisted a la margie moran: serene and unruffled.
jeffrey’s succeeding films have also received prizes and citations. these are: bridal shower (2004), one moment more (minsan pa, 2004) and bikini open (2005). jeffrey’s films have been selected for exhibition in festivals across sweden, france, switzerland, italy, slovak republic, czech republic, india, japan, korea, hong kong, bangladesh, singapore, thailand, colombia and the united states.

kubrador was completed only weeks ago. cineastes are already anticipating the arrival of the film with so much excitement and eagerness. kubrador's lead actress is the hugely talented gina pareno (previous remarkable performances: "magnificent bakya, " 1965, "let's dance the soul," 1967; mar s. torres' "dalawang mukha ng anghel," 1968; jun raquiza's "krimen: kayo ang humatol," 1974; maning borlaza's "bukas, luluhod ang mga tala,"1984; ishmael bernal's "working girls," 1984; and jeffrey's own "bridal shower," 2004). she is ably supported by thespians nanding josef (as father buboy), fonz besa (as eli) and maximo's soliman cruz ( as the policeman). jeffrey's production team is composed of joel jover (screenplay), armando lao (script supervision), boy yñiguez (direction of photography) and another good friend, leo abaya (production design). visual artist/television director/network executive johnny manahan turns in quite a performance by portraying a very special role: that of a jueteng master.

jay lozada now reports from manila that boy yniguez (director of photography for "larger than life" and "kubrador") has meticulously compiled highlights as well as behind-the-scenes from jeffrey's latest movie.

thinking filipinos should embrace alternative spaces offered by maximo and kubrador. in spite of processes that frequently undermine broadening cultural identities, auraeus solito and jeffrey jeturian have situated uniquely philippine expressions within pictures marked by brocolage, intertextuality and the blurring of genres.
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auraeus solito
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nathan lopez in the blossoming of maximo oliveros (2005)
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nathan lopez and j.r. valentin in the blossoming of maximo oliveros
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jeffrey jeturian (2nd from left) with friends including 2000 bb. pilipinas-universe nina ricci alagao onstage at the araneta coliseum
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jeffrey jeturian (left, standing) with several writer-friends at prizewinning screenwriter armando lao's sikatuna pad in quezon city
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jeffrey jeturian disembarks at lido for the 2001 venice film festival
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jeffrey jeturian with venice film festival director fausto pizzi
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at the sydney opera house, venue of maximo's australian premiere next week

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Blogger NeiLDC said...

Its a good thing that were doing reports of the Good filipino films abroad, I do also proud of it, Its time that we must set films for the international market, I hope that one day, Lino Brockas film would now be available in the market..

Sat May 06, 08:32:00 PM 2006  
Blogger wendell said...

oh, some of lino's films are actually available in vcd or dvd format: maynila sa mga kuko ng liwanag, macho dancer, biktima, maging akin ka lamang, kailan mahuhugasan ang kasalanan, gumapang ka sa lusak, and a few others.

ask some of your friends back home to send via fed ex.

Sat May 06, 08:48:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Jay said...

OMG... you have a trunkful of memorabilia.
I look so young 6 years ago. *chos*

Mon May 08, 12:24:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Misispi said...

oo nga, isang baul na alaala :)

at ang dami daming magagaling na pinoy, bow ako :)

Tue May 09, 10:39:00 AM 2006  
Blogger wendell said...

lozada and mayamaya are 2 of the many reasons why we should remain in the philippines.

Tue May 09, 12:52:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

aaah!! NOW i find out about the screening at the opera house. 4 days after the fact. :( would you know of any other screenings happening in sydney of "maximo oliveros"?

Tue May 16, 12:23:00 PM 2006  
Blogger wendell said...

no idea. it's a much sought after film. many countries are competing for rights to exhibit the film. i posted the info 2 weeks before the exhibition.

Tue May 16, 02:21:00 PM 2006  
Blogger jaspercaesar said...

Hi Mr Capili. I would like to know whether the film, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, is already available in VCD or DVD format. Perhaps you might know the answer to my query. Thank you.

Thu Jun 29, 02:52:00 AM 2006  
Blogger wendell said...

hi jasper! im not sure if it is available on DVD format. but they already released a limited VCD edition of the film. check out astrovision or some of the other major video outlets back there. otherwise, send me an email and ill give you mobile numbers of people who are part of the film's production/marketing team. can't divulge personal telephone numbers of these friends in public. thanks for dropping by!

Fri Jun 30, 12:01:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Hydrocodone said...

bEA5SL The best blog you have!

Fri Nov 02, 11:13:00 AM 2007  

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