film marathon

marathon in a way. was able to catch a lot of 2017’s awesomest films at the qcinema and at cinema one originals in the last 2 months. had i the time of the world i would have watched everything. last year, we actually were at film festivals in venice, karlovy vary, and busan but watched very few films (we spent a good half of the time exploring the town. and partying). the irony is that this year, we got to watch more films here at home. what i love with most of them is i was sorta expecting them to go a certain route (wishing they wouldnt) and they dont. most of the films here are foreign language submissions to the oscars. and some won top honors at the big festivals.

here’s a list. in pictures. and some words.


the square. won top honors at cannes. interesting turn of events. and concept of the square. and the film as a mirror to that concept. char.


the killing of a sacred deer. kept us on the edge of seats. powerful, confident direction.

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loveless. riveting performances. learned the mother won best actress at cannes. deserving. was very difficult to watch her because she was so good. dont make sense, ya?


marlina the murderer in four acts. gorgeous movie. concept of severed head was too close for comfort (we also had a severed head in our film SI CHEDENG AT SI APPLE). however, this would turn out to be a totally different movie. wonderful cinematography and design.


BPM (beats per minute). about the HIV movement in paris in the 80s. a tad too long. i felt there were two movies in this one, we could cut it right at the middle. but engaging story nevertheless about people living with HIV.


pop aye. the elephant unanimously stole the show. char. about a guy on the brink of a nervous breakdown. and an elephant named pop aye.


in between seasons. about this cute couple. and their mother. heartbreaking.


loving vincent. gorgeous. wonderful. but i got dizzy with all the colors and it sent me off to la la land. very hypnotic. still, clearly should be watched by many. and i might need to watch it again next time.


3 billboards across ebbing missouri. wonderful script and great ensemble acting. frances mcdormand might just get her 2nd oscar with this one. it left me breathless. and at peace with the world


thelma. crazy lady this one. art house genre? reminded me of let the right one in. pa-art pero horror? ang ganda ng sound design nitesh. scoring and sound.


call me by your name. beautiful movie. by one of my favorite directors, i learned later on. captivating. powerful acting especially from timothee chalamet. gorgeous locations, wonderful tile floors. food shots. the balcony. everything. and the beautiful armie hammer is icing on the affogato.


a fantastic woman. brave, wonderful performance from this lady here. wonderful sound design, feeling ko tuloy ako siya.


sweet country. riveting. i normally dont like country films but i took a chance and was rewarded with a magnificent film about class & race, family, and justice. the textures on their costumes were fantastic, i could smell them from where i was seated in the theater. sam neill was practically unrecognizable. amazing.


life happened.

the frenzy of a gala night has mellowed down but most of them are still drinking now back at the bar. it’s 1.30am. carlo and i called it a night and im now in bed recalling the events (and posting them online).

from left: me, carlo fajarda (suwerte short film director), carlo (prod design), martin (bts), ronald arguelles (festival director and executive producer), patti lapus (line producer), fatrick tabada and rae red (directors and screenplay), davinci (onset editor)

it’s been a crazy ride from preprod to premiere night but we made it and the audience reaction was awesome. some things you can’t really plan and the laughter in the theater means somewhere in your youth or childhood, you must have done something good.

hope this film finds its audience and fast! reviews on twitter has been amazing and encouraging. congrats fatrick and rae!

filmmaking, movies, musings


it’s official! c1 originals festival 2017 just posted on their facebook page that our short film, INA NYO, is in competition! thrilled that cinema one originals under ronald arguelles took it in. we finally have our world premiere! wohoo!


INA NYO is a short film directed by Mary Grace Evangelista and was part of her final requirements for her film program under NYU-TISCH. Ina Nyo (Your Mother) is a day in the life of Ana, a young housemaid in Manila, and her quiet resilience as she is hassled by the family she has come to care for and know. While desperate to send more money to her mother, her job is suddenly jeopardized when the rivalry of the siblings and their desire for her go too far. Ana struggles with how to maintain her livelihood.

was introduced to mary online through her brother, eric. it wasnt until she was about to shoot that i got to really meet her. as i couldnt do her design work for this project, i tapped my art directors kitch napigkit, to be prod designer, and arman montallana, to be prod manager. and since i was supervising the local team and logistics, i got swept into the whirlwind of producing without realizing it. grateful to have done it but im not sure if i did a pretty decent job. i should remind myself to sit in bianca balbuena’s workshops next time.


production meeting when the crew from new york arrived. from left: me, arman (prod manager), JP habac (assistant director turned coordinator), mikee (stylist), kitch (PD), mary (director), joanne (DOP), charlie (AC), and falko (gaffer).


notes between kitch and me discussing/consulting design and requirements.


it’s been a while since mary and i saw each other (we briefly spent an afternoon a few weeks ago with brother eric and his partner stan) so i decided to do a short interview about her thoughts behind INA NYO and her future plans. a first for this blog! always wanted to do an interview so here goes.

tell us a little bit more about writing and developing this story. there are a lot of strong women also in the film. what are your thoughts on feminist filmmaking?

I grew up surrounded by tough women who worked as caretakers, cleaning ladies and nannies. I was inspired by their stories and their resilience. My mom and her best friend, Tita Lina would chismis about work and they’d tell these amusing stories that were sometimes pretty tragic – but it was always told in a way that empowered. There was a lot of laughter growing up so the somber ending to the film is more of my own doing in this case. I am a feminist so naturally I feel my filmmaking will be reflective of that as well.


it seems this story is relevant more than ever. how do you feel about this with the current weinstein gate?

Weinstein sucks. When I was writing the script I had a professor who couldn’t understand why Ana would give in to John, as if she let herself get assaulted. That was frustrating and alarming because of course she doesn’t – no one is ever asking for it. With the story I wanted to explore how as women we’re constantly navigating these power dynamics and it’s hard to know what the right answer is in situations especially when you feel trapped.


tell us a bit more about shooting this film

It was incredible to shoot in the Philippines. When you and JP came on board that’s when it all came together and suddenly I found myself on set with thirty people waiting for direction, a generator, a signal number 2 typhoon wreaking havoc and lots of art and production design.


I also love how my friends who came with me from the States bonded with your team and we became a little family. Lots of Taglish and even some beki lingo were spoken in-between takes and generally it was a playful set which counterbalanced the dark material and the grueling schedule.

any thing else you are currently developing? a full length perhaps? what’s next for you?

I’m working on a couple projects including writing a feature length version of Ina Nyo. It’s set in the Bay Area California (where I mostly grew up) and follows Ana’s rocky first summer in the States while both she and her mom work as domestics and hide from the immigration authorities.


catch the short film in the shorts program! screening schedule listed below!


art & design, filmmaking, movies, musings

si chedeng, si apple, at si elvie


im currently shooting a new film for cinema one originals with two of the most gorgeous women on the face of the earth, gloria diaz and elizabeth oropesa. these two ladies worked previously on the 1974 cult classic, Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa, and aptly titled too because even at their current ages, their beauty is unparalleled.  one can only wish theyd age gracefully as these two have.


i grew up knowing i had family relations with gloria diaz. my middle name is, in fact, diaz; my mother had explained my grandfather and gloria’s father were cousins (and we have connections also on the florendo side of things). to get to work with her for this film is a dream come true but i took my time before letting ms gloria know of this family connection. i preferred to get to know her better first. the first time we met up with ms gloria to discuss film costume requirements, she told us she can provide day clothes but doesnt have sleeping outfits because she only wears gowns and her crown to sleep! a true beauty queen inside and outside, she turned out to be warm, generous, and with a fabulous sense of humor. so when i call her tita gloria, there is more than a kevin-bacon-6-degree truth to that. i, thank you. charot.


shot in manila and cebu and features awesome cebuano talent behind the camera (director, producer, dop and camera crew, sound crew, etc), “si chedeng, si apple, at ang louis vuitton” is directed by fatrick tabada (writer of sleeper-hit patay na si hesus) and rae red (co-writer of birdshot), based on a fabulous script by tabada. cinematography by don gerardo frasco, production design by carlo tabije and myself (cdo reprezent), produced by bianca balbuena, and executive produced by ronald arguelles, this film is a finalist at the 2017 cinema one originals film festival on november 12-21.


often called “the sexiest man in siargao” because he is, i had the privilege of taking some shots of champion surfer manuel “wilmar” melindo on our last day in the island, june 1, thanks to makeup artist syrel lopez and caster gaddy. here is one of my favorite shots. might post another photo tomorrow. wohoo!


grooming by syrel lopez, photo by benjamin padero. shot at tuazon, harana resort, siargao, surigao del norte.


shooting the sexiest man in siargao



if walls could see, it would have eyes.