'Deadma Walking': Not just another gay film

MANILA, Philippines – Deadma Walking is currently the only Metro Manila Film Festival  2017 entry graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB). Based on the Carlos Palanca award-winning screenplay of the same name, lead stars Joross Gamboa and Edgar Allan Guzman are determined to prove that what they have to offer is not just another gay movie.

At its core, Deadma Walking is a film about friendship and selfless love.

“The movie is really about friendship. It’s a tribute to friendship. Nagkataon lang na gay characters ‘yung parehong lead but it could be a gay and a lesbian, two straight guys, two straight girls. Nagkaroon lang ng accent and flavor because of the gay [characters],” screenwriter Eric Cabahug explained during the press conference for the movie on December 7.

(It was a coincidence that the leads of the movie are both gay characters, but it could be a gay and a lesbian, two straight guys, two straight girls. It just had this accent and flavor because of the gay characters.)

"We wanted to balance the darkness and morbid subject matter of death with the lightness of the wit and sense of humor and pabongga pasabog ng mga (surprise of the) gays. So that's deliberate. But at the heart, it’s really a friendship story that everyone who loves their friends would appreciate and would love also. It’s a universal friendship story," he said.

BEST FRIENDS. Edgar Allan Guzman and Joross Gamboa play gay best friends in the film

BEST FRIENDS.

Edgar Allan Guzman and Joross Gamboa play gay best friends in the film

Deadma Walking is a comedy-drama-musical about two gay best friends, John (Joross) and Mark (Edgar), who staged a fake funeral after finding out that one of them only has a year left to live. Arguing that he wanted to hear the eulogies while he’s still alive, John convinced Mark to help him fake his own death. 

Although Deadma Walking has a different premise compared to Die Beautiful, the two films share key elements that many cannot help but point out – death, elaborate funerals, and two gay characters as leads.

Eric, however, explained that the characters’ journey, John and Patrick/Trisha (Paolo Ballesteros) couldn’t be more different. While the latter struggles with acceptance and finding his place in the world, John attempts to fill the void in his heart by learning how he was perceived when he was still alive.

“I see Die Beautiful as an individual fighting for his truth about himself and finding his own place in the world. Walang ganong issues ang character ni Joross (The character of Joross has none of those issues). Die Beautiful revolves around his life, his journey to find his place, acceptance of his truth… Ito, it revolves around his death eh, kung anong gusto niyang mangyari sa burol niya, bakit siya may ganoong ideas, bakit gusto niyang mag-fake ng death at marinig ‘yung sasabihin ng mga tao. Kasi mga medyo vain sya, medyo sad because ulila na siya from his parents, he’s estranged from his own sister in the story, so parang wala na siyang love life, nahihirapan siyang magkalovelife so may kakulangan sa puso niya na gusto nyang mapunan. So it’s really different. ‘Yung hagod, and 'yung premise magkaiba naman.”

 (This one revolves around his death, what he wants to happen in his funeral, why he has these kinds of ideas, why he wants to fake his death, and hear what people will say about him. Because he's quite vain, it's very sad because he was already an orphan, he's estranged from his own sister in the story, so it's like he has no love life, he's having a hard time fiding love, so there's something lacking in his heart that he wants to fill in. So it's very different. The premise is very different.)

DIFFERENT FROM TRICIA. Screenwriter Eric Cabahug says the character of Joross Gamboa (in photo) is totally different from Paolo Ballesteros' role in 'Die Beautiful'

DIFFERENT FROM TRICIA.

Screenwriter Eric Cabahug says the character of Joross Gamboa (in photo) is totally different from Paolo Ballesteros' role in 'Die Beautiful'

Nonetheless, director Julius Alfonso said it’s an honor for Deadma Walking to be compared to Die Beautiful.

“Comparing Deadma Walking to Die Beautiful is an honor kasi (because) Die Beautiful is one of, if not the most, successful gay oriented movie post-Dolphy era. Kasi puro (Because it was all  Dolphy [films] ‘yung mga successful na gay pero (that had successful gay films but) ang Die Beautiful in this generation, siya ‘yung pinakasuccessful (it was the most successful),” he said.

As for going against big names in the industry, the stars are confident that the movie stands a fighting chance.

“Para sa akin, ito ‘yung pinaka-all out kong nagawa. Hindi in terms ng paghuhubad, or love scenes, sa pagpapatawa, sa kalokohan, ‘yung pagiging emotional, all out na pati song and dance. Para sa akin ‘yung mga nagagawa nga nila, ‘yung mga kalaban namin, nila Derek [Ramsay], Coco [Martin], Paulo [Avelino], kumbaga kaya rin namin, magagawa rin namin 'yun, pero 'yung ginagawa namin dito parang mahihirapan din sila kasi, kumakanta, kami nag-e-emote tapos nag-ipit pa kami ni Joross habang sumasayaw so mahirap talaga,” Edgar said.

(For me, this is the movie where I gave my all. Not in terms of taking off clothes or love scenes, but in doing comedy, antics, being emotional, even all out in singing and dancing. For me, the ones made by our competitors, Derek, Coco, Paulo, we can also do it, but the things we did here are really hard and they'll also have a hard time [matching them]. We sang, we used our emotions and Joross and I also had to squeeze it in while dancing, so it's very hard.) 

ALL OUT. Edgar Allan Guzman says he gave everything in terms of acting in the movie.

ALL OUT. Edgar Allan Guzman says he gave everything in terms of acting in the movie.

“We’re hoping that we’ll be the David to their Goliath,” Eric added.

Deadma Walking is T-Rex Entertainment’s official entry to the MMFF 2017. It premieres nationwide beginning December 25. - Rappler.com