10 Philippine blockbusters we are looking forward to in 2016

It’s been a prolific year for Philippine cinema, with about 50 films released so far — but there is more to come: another 50 movies are due for release by the end of the year. Here are 10 of the films, spanning a range of genres, that we are most looking forward to — including […]

It’s been a prolific year for Philippine cinema, with about 50 films released so far — but there is more to come: another 50 movies are due for release by the end of the year.

Here are 10 of the films, spanning a range of genres, that we are most looking forward to — including one that has just been released.

We’ve included UAE release dates where possible but bear in mind that the Philippine film industry is notorious for announcing them just a week or two in advance, so keep checking your movie listings for exact schedules.

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1. Ma’ Rosa

Director: Brillante Mendoza

Starring: Jaclyn Jose, Julio Diaz, Felix Roco, Maria Isabel Lopez, Andi Eigenmann

The story: Veteran actress Jaclyn Jose plays Rosa, a woman who owns a convenience store in a poor neighbourhood in Manila. To make ends meet, she and her husband (Diaz) start selling illegal drugs in their store.

What to look out for: Brillante Mendoza’s gritty take on the Philippine working class is shot in his signature hand-held style. It had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May and received with a standing ovation, and Jose won the Best Actress prize.

Release: July/August.

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2. How to Be Yours

Director: Dan Villegas

Starring: Bea Alonzo, Gerald Anderson

The story: Anderson plays Nino, a customer at a restaurant in Manila’s Chinatown who falls for a chef called Anj (Alonzo).

What to look out for: It’s the real-life former couple’s first film together. “It was exciting, awkward, surreal,” Anderson told The National.

Release: The film opens in the Philippines on July 27, so expect it to open around that time or soon after.

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3. Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli (The Ballad of Hermano Puli)

Director: Gil Portes

Starring: Aljur Abrenica, Alessandra de Rossi, Markki Stroem

The story: A biopic about a 27-year-old Filipino religious leader who led a revolt against the Spaniards in the early 19th century.

What to look out for: It’s heart-throb Aljur Abrenica’s first grown-up project after starring in several romantic comedies. “I assure you that an actor is born in this movie,” director Portes says. The film also features Abrenica’s brothers, Vin and Allen.

Release: Late September.

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4. Tomodachi

Director: Joel Lamangan

Starring: Eddie Garcia, Jacky Woo, Pancho Magno, Bela Padilla

The story: A Japanese officer falls for a local lass in this drama set in the Philippines during World War II. The title comes from the Japanese word for “friend”.

What to look out for: It’s already making waves on the festival circuit — it won Best Foreign Language Film and Best Musical Score at this month’s Madrid International Film Festival.

Release: Later this year.

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5. Never Talk Back to A Gangster

Director: Andoy Ranay

Starring: James Reid, Nadine Lustre

The story: A teenage romcom/thriller starring Reid and Lustre, another popular on-screen couple. It’s the sequel to their 2014 box-office hit, Talk Back and You’re Dead.

What to look out for: Expect this film to do well in the UAE. When Reid and Lustre visited Dubai in March to perform a concert, their show was sell-out attended by thousands of fans. A horde of supporters even waited for the duo to arrive at Dubai International Airport at 3am.

Release: Later this year.

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6. Insanely In Love

Director: Olivia Lamasan

Starring: Kathryn Bernardo, Daniel Padilla

The story: Bernardo and Padilla — Reid and Lustre’s friendly rivals — star in their own romantic drama, their first project together since their top-rated TV series Pangako Sa ‘Yo (This I Promise You) ended in February.

What to look out for: Shot in Barcelona, Spain, last month, this film could be the stars’ most important project to date, thanks to their director, Olivia Lamasan, who is one of the country’s most esteemed filmmakers.

Release: Later this year.

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7. Darna

Director: Erik Matti

The story: A campy fantasy superhero film based on classic Filipino comic-book character, Darna — a deceased warrior from outer space who manifests herself through a poor, ordinary girl called Narda.

What to look out for: The story of Darna has been adapted for the big screen 14 times and three times on television. It’s a coveted role that has boosted the careers of many stars including Vilma Santos and Angel Locsin. The director of the latest version, Erik Matti, has not yet revealed who he has chosen to play the title role, but he has posted teasers on social media. Fans are betting on Jessy Mendiola, Ritz Azul or Nadine Lustre.

Release: Later this year.

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8. Manay Nelia

Director: Adolfo Alix Jr

Starring: Nora Aunor

The story: A social drama headlined by the grand dame of Philippine cinema, Nora Aunor. It’s her follow-up project after the acclaimed Brilliant Mendoza feature, Taklub (Trap).

What to look out for: It’s a first-rate pairing of renowned director and star. Independent filmmaker Adolfo Alix Jr is one of the best of his generation. His previous film, Death March, screened at Cannes.

Release: Later this year, possibly in time for the Metro Manila Film Festival in December.

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9. Mighty Yaya

Director: Jose Javier Reyes

Starring: Ai-Ai delas Alas, Megan Young, Zoren Legaspi, Sophia Andres

The story: This one is headlined by Ai-Ai delas Alas, known as the “Philippine Queen of Comedy”, so prepare to be amused. It follows the adventures of a nanny, Yaya Virgie, and the family she works for.

What to look out for: Mighty Yaya marks Megan Young’s first film project since winning the Miss World crown in 2013. She plays Yaya Virgie’s employer.

Release: Later this year.

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10. Lakambini (Muse)

Directors: Jeffrey Jeturian and Ellen Ongkeko Marfil

Starring: Lovi Poe, Rocco Nacino, Paulo Avelino

The story: Another historical biopic, this time about Gregoria “Oryang” de Jesus (played by Poe), the widow of revolutionary leader Andres Bonifacio (Nacino). De Jesus, fondly known as “Lakambini”, was the founder of the women’s chapter of the Katipunan, an underground society that protested against Spanish colonisation.

What to look out for: It’s the first Philippine biopic about a female historical figure. “When we talk about Filipino heroes, only the men get mentioned,” Poe said. “Oryang went through so much hardships yet no monument has ever been built for her.”

Release: Later this year.

artslife@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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