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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Aug 12, 2012

New Female Director Tara Illenberger Says 'Guni-Guni' Is Inspired By 'The Black Swan'

WE’RE GLAD we have a new female director, Tara Illenberger, who directed the Cinemalaya special jury prize winner, “Brutus”, about kids used in smuggling illegal logs in Mindoro. It also won as best Asian film in the Brussels Indie FIlmfest. Tara started as a film editor in 1999 for award-winning films like Gil Portes’ “The Kite” and Joel Lamangan’s “Bulaklak ng Maynila”. She won best editing awards for “Minsan, May Isang Puso”, “Bridal Shower” and “A Love Story”.

She now makes her mainstream directorial debut in Regal’s “Guni-Guni”, whose story is reminiscent of the Thai horror flick “Alone” and Jun Lana’s “Kulam” that both revolved on a twin sister who died. But Tara says she hasn’t seen any of these films and her influence is more of Natalie Portman in “The Black Swan”.

“The character Lovi Poe plays here is also psychologically disturbed at parang may dark entity inside of her,” she says. “It’s more like a descent into madness. The movie also touches on abortion and an element in the story, kuwento sa’kin ng isang friend ko, tungkol sa isang baby na ibinaon.”

How’s the performance of her major stars? “Lovi has very expressive eyes. Kung ano ang kulo sa loob niya, she can show it in her eyes without any dialogue. Empress is so busy on TV but kahit pagod na siya, she’s full of energy on the set. Benjamin Alves surprised me. He may be a newcomer but he quickly gets what I want him to do. We have very few retakes kasi magaling ang buong cast, which was chosen by Roselle Monteverde who also chose this horror project among the several stories I pitched to her.”

We asked Tara and the cast what horror film really scared them. Tara: “The Others” with Nicole Kidman kasi maraming twists. Lovi Poe: “Shutter”, the original Thai version. Benjamin Alves: Also “Shutter” and “The Shining” with Jack Nicholson. Empress: “The Ring”, the original Japanese version. James Blanco: The “Manananggal” episode with Herbert Bautista in “Shake Rattle and Roll 1”. Newcomer Ria Garcia: “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” as it’s based on a true story.