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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.

Sep 9, 2015

Director Joel Lamangan On Who's Better Between His Two Lead Actors: Allen Dizon As 'Sekyu' Or Dennis Trillo As 'Felix Manalo'

DIRECTOR JOEL LAMANGAN is back in action with two new movies, “Sekyu” and “Felix Manalo”, after he got hospitalized some months ago. He wants to make it clear that he didn’t have a stroke, as earlier reported, but an attack on his cerebellum.

“What’s affected was my sense of balance,” he says. “But now, my doctor has given me the permission to go back to work. Bawal lang sa’kin ang magteleserye kasi very stressful. You not only have to do three to four times a week taping but you also have to cope with the ratings and a lot of people like the EP, the program manager, the executive committee, the creative committee. Mas madaling gumawa ng movies so, after ‘Sekyu’ and ‘Felix Manalo’, I’m starting another one, ‘Tomodachi’, a love story set during World War II starring Jackie Woo. Meron din akong gagawing TV movie.”

How did he manage to shoot two films simultaneously? “I just did my best to focus on two different kinds of cinematic work. ‘Sekyu’ is a small, very quiet film, about an ordinary but honest man, a security guard who wants to live a comfortable life under the dictates of society but there are things that go beyond his control leading to something tragic. ‘Felix Manalo’ is a big-budgeted period film that spans many decades in the life story of a man whose story needs to be told. It’s a big challenge for me as I’m not a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo. But I’m glad that although I’m not an INC believer, they gave me the chance to direct the project because I enjoyed doing the film biography of a man who was ostracized for his beliefs, but the INC is now very much alive with members in six continents. It’ll show his struggles, his advocacy and it’ll also unravel the mystery of his faith.”

We’ve seen “Sekyu” in a special preview with Direk Joel and we won’t be surprised if it would eventually win awards in the international filmfest circuit. Indie films king Allen Dizon (who just won several international best actor awards for “Magkakabaung”) gives another standout portrayal. He’s well supported by an ensemble cast led by Melai Cantiveros, Jaime Pebanco, Rez Cortez, Raquel Villavicencio and the very healthy boy who plays his son and looks like a young Jason Paul Laxamana, his director in “Magkakabaung”. The film has religious overtones and echoes the theme of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” about the moral anguish and dilemma of a man who has committed a crime. Beautifully lensed by Ronald Lacap (son of veteran DOP Rody Lacap who, in turn, lensed “Felix Manalo”), Direk Joel wisely included the big city as a part of his story, with breathtaking aerial shots filmed with a helicam.

We also like the fresh location of urban settlers relocated in Rodriguez, Montalban where Allen as Edel and his family live. It’s definitely something new compared to the tired old locations of dumpsite communities in movies featuring poverty porn. Both Allen and Dennis Trillo play title roles in his movies. So who comes out as the best actor? “The two movies belong to two different styles and genres, so it’s unfair to compare their performances,” says Direk Joel. A very safe answer indeed.