MANILA, Philippines – As expected, moviegoers came in droves to watch the gala premiere of “Ekstra: The Bit Player,” Sunday night, July 28, at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (Main Theater) of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
The lead actress of the Jeffrey Jeturian film, Vilma Santos, was here to see for herself the reception to “Ekstra.”
Joining the Star for All Seasons, currently on her last term as Batangas governor, was her family – Sen. Ralph Recto, her husband, and sons Ryan Christian Recto and Luis Manzano, who came along with Jennylyn Mercado.
Other celebrities seen at the premiere include Yayo Aguila, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Erik Santos, Tessie Tomas, and filmmakers GB Sampedro and Wenn V. Deramas.
Also present were Cherie Gil and Cherry Pie Picache who are among the cast of “Ekstra.”
A few days before the premiere, there was already a great demand for tickets. Atty. Joji Alonso, the film’s producer, said she was having difficulty getting more tickets for those who wanted to attend the gala premiere.
As early as 5:00 p.m., people were already queuing for the 6:15 screening. The line became longer in just a few minutes, while other people were excitedly awaiting the arrival of Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto.
The Vilmanians were hoping to get a glimpse of their idol enter the Main Theater.
The celebrities started arriving, which made the task of containing the crowd a little difficult for the ushers. But they politely obliged when they were asked to clear the area leading to the Main Theater.
When the signal was given that the moviegoers could now enter the theater, the people dashed toward the main entrance, hoping to be the first to get inside.
This could have been a scene straight from Philippine cinema’s classic eras, such as the pre-martial law Manila film festivals. And the star of the night was a veteran performer with 5 decades in the industry.
Vilma said the premiere erased her apprehensions about venturing into independent cinema for the first time. “Yung pinaka-reception kanina, yun na ang pinaka-bayad namin (The reception was already the reward).”
Jeturian was a PA (production assistant) in the 1984 production of Marilou Diaz Abaya’s “Alyas Baby Tsina.” Vilma was the star of that film, and Jeturian remembers already dreaming of becoming a filmmaker at the time.
That dream has become a reality. Besides his critical acclaim in independent cinema, Jeturian is also the director behind the top-rating serye, “Be Careful with My Heart.”
Direk Jeffrey’s other long-time dream was to direct Vilma, whom he now thanks for making “Ekstra” a reality.
Direk Jeffrey also thanked the stars who agreed to do cameos in “Ekstra” – Cherie Gil, Cherry Pie Picache, Pilar Pilapil, Marian Rivera, Piolo Pascual, Tom Rodriguez of “My Husband’s Lover” fame, Eula Valdes, and Richard Yap.
Vilma says doing “Ekstra” is her way of giving back to the film industry. She was also happy to see familiar faces from ABS-CBN. Among those who attended the premiere were Star Cinema executives Roxy Liquigan and Mico del Rosario.
Star Cinema is handling the theatrical release of “Ekstra” on August 14.
“I can feel their support and I am glad because this is my first indie film,” the actress-governor said.
She was full of appreciation for the film’s warm reception. “It’s a big thing for me and for the ‘ekstras.’ I also cherish the fact that I was able to meet the indie family and be one of them as well.”
How did she feel when the audience gave a big round of applause after the end of the movie?
“Parang lahat ng kaba mo nawala. [My apprehensions were gone.] Because the mere fact na ginawa mo yun, [the fact that you did it], it’s a little contribution to art.” – Rappler.com
For the showing dates of “Ekstra,” please check out the screening schedule in this link.