Graded A: ‘Edna’ tackles hard facts of returning OFW life

There had been movies produced about OFWs, but none so far tackled the harsh realities of a returning one, until Tonet Gedang’s Artiste Entertainment, Inc. production of Edna, starring Irma Adlawan with actor Ronnie Lazaro debuting as director.

EDNA

Probably more than half of OFWs have been or are being treated merely as human ATMs by their families at home. Caregiver Edna faces this hard fact and becomes paranoid, almost schizophrenic when she finds out that everything she expected turns out to be the opposite of what her family was telling her as she toiled abroad. Edna posterActor Ronnie Lazaro debuts as director in ‘Edna’

For one, eldest son Julius (Nicco Manalo) did not become the medical doctor she spent for his studies, but a basketball coach who got hitched early with Lyn (Sue Prado). Daughter Camille (Mara Marasigan) continued her affair with a married man despite Edna paying for her freedom. The youngest, Carl (Micko Laurente), is a troubled child,caused by sister-in-law Suzette‘s (Frances Makil) maltreatment . Husband Bobby (Ronnie Lazaro) secretly carries an affair with their godson Ted (Kiko Matos).

Edna scene with Carl and SuzetteEdna becomes estranged to son Carl and sister-in-law Suzette

All these shatter Edna that in her mind she’s murdering each one of them by feeding them poisoned delicious pansit (upon the request of Carl). As she gathers her senses that her family and everyone around had become strangers, she decides to leave again with the fervent hope that Carl can still overturn at least one dream unfulfilled.

Over bottles of beer

Anthony Gedang (producer of award-winning and internationally-acclaimed movie Ataul For Rent, also Graded A in 2007) and Ronnie Lazaro had been childhood friends and neighbors in Makati.

Edna and TedIs Ted (Kiko Matos) just a godson?

One evening over bottles of beer, Gedang asked Lazaro if he was doing any movie, then he offered him a directorial job, to which the actor presented a storyline that had been playing in his mind for quite some time, and said that no one else can portray the main character but Adlawan.

Gedang worked closely with Lallie Bucoy for the script. Some major scenes and subplots, like the mahjong sessions, were based on his life growing up, he says, as his father was one of the early OFWS in Saudi Arabia. Tonet and FrancesProducer Tonet Gedang plays a cameo role as too-close-for-comfort-priest-confidante of Suzette (Frances Makil)

When the lead actor considered for the film was not available, Gedang told Lazaro that he should take the role as well. The producer (aside from doing a cameo as priest) also served as assistant director who was at the monitor all the time.

P7-M production

Although the movie was done only in over a week, it’s way above the budget of an indie or pito-pito movie. Yes, P7 million is not a joke to cough up for the businessman-poet-author-bonsai grower-exhibit planner.

Using expensive Alexa cameras, the film shifts from full color to black and white or single color then back again, as way of telling what’s real and what’s imagined in the eyes of Edna.

Edna cast and crewCast and crew of ‘Edna’

Graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board, Edna is hailed both by the academe and the entertainment media for its unusual take on a dysfunctional family. When shown at Adamson University (Tonet’s alma mater), students approached him saying that they now appreciate and understand better the sacrifices of OFWs, whether they have one in the family or none. Edna opens May 20 in selected SM cinemas and other mall theaters.

Click the link to know more about Edna, touted as OFW Movie of the Year. https://www.facebook.com/Edna.Film2014.

Martin Escudero goes from ‘Positive’ to ‘Obsession’ with ‘Mumbai Love’ in between

After essaying the role of a person afflicted with AIDS in Positive, Martin Escudero essays another challenging role in Obsession.

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Positive ended on January 9 on a high note, and Obsession starts on January 23. It’s still a once-a-week Thursday fare on TV5.

Sharing stellar billing with Martin are former Kapamilya-turned-Kapuso stalwart Marvin Agustin and Bianca King, herself a Kapuso star. Adding sizzle to the cast of obsessed characters is Neri Naig, the controversial girlfriend of Parokya Ni Edgar vocalist Chito Miranda.

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In between these projects, Martin shot a movie in India, Mumbai Love – a cross-cultural film about finding love in the most unusual place between a Filipina tourist played by Solenn Heusaff and half-Filipino half-Indian played by newcomer Kiko Matos. Martin plays a photographer assigned by his publication in Manila to capture the intricacies of the Hindu culture.

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Late last year, to drumbeat Positive, the StarStruck alumnus shared with the media his harrowing ordeal of being hostaged for six hours in a remote location of the shoot. He said he thought they could no longer get out of the situation alive.

Hours later, director Benito Bautista clarified the PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) report that was already circulating on social media that there was no hostage that happened. It was a miscommunication and that the actors organization in India demanded a fee since the stars of the movie were foreigners doing the shoot in their land. The Indian counterpart reportedly paid an undisclosed amount and so the shoot went on smoothly after that.

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Mumbai Love opens on January 22, said to be an early Valentine’s treat for everyone who has fallen in love, currently in love and those who are yet to experience romance.

A number of entertainment writers and columnists, some editors included, reacted when they saw the poster of the movie. Understandably, Martin was abased, insulted, not properly credited and relegated to a minor support when he should be one of the come-ons of the production.

He has proven himself in Zombadings: Patayin Sa Shokot Si Remington, a gender-bending characterization that won for the mestizo actor Best Actor awards from Gawad Tanglaw and ENPRESS.

Martin, whose real name is Mark Butler, the same name he used when he first set foot in the business thru ABS-CBN and became Mart Escudero and stayed as such when he was with GMA7, also became a major draw in big productions afterwards, notably Moron 5 and Shake, Rattle & Roll 14 The Invasion.

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“It’s sad that since he is on his own now, no one would fight for his proper place in billing,” said one writer who sympathizes with Martin. “Imagine, Jayson Gainza is even ahead of him in the billing!”  he continued his litany.

Martin used to be managed by the same person who’s been handling the careers of Dennis Trillo and Marian Rivera, who until recently also left the stable and now under APT, said to be her discoverer and original handler. APT is behind the longest-running noontime show on Philippine television, Eat Bulaga.

At one point, Martin let the cat out of the bag the reason why he decided to leave Popoy’s management. “He did not want me to share my earnings with my family. The reason why I’m working hard is for my family, why should I be prevented to share the blessings with them?” the 23-year-old thespian said undauntedly.

Since Martin is not afflicted with billingitis (a manic disorder of stars who are so particular with their names in the posters, trailers and ads – either their names are above the title, ahead of this and that star or appendaged with the & or and), he is seen as the heir-apparent to Eddie Garcia, the most enduring actor of all time.

Garcia has practically essayed all characters in every genre there is in the industry, be it in the movies or on TV, not minding where they put his name. Because of that, the respect and courtesy accorded to him is beyond compare.

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And Martin, well, he said that when people get to watch the film, they’d forget about the billing issue.

Playing other important roles in Mumbai Love are Raymond Bagatsing, Jun Sabayton and Romy Daryani.

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Martin has another movie, Musiko, with Melai Cantiveros and Tommy Abuel. It has a February 15, 2014 playdate in Toronto, Canada