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MANILA, Philippines – Antoinette Jadaone, writer and director of the critically-acclaimed movie Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay, spent her first few years as a fresh UP Film Institute graduate getting all her film proposals rejected both here and abroad.
She ended up shooting a Super Ferry commercial for an advertising company, to which one of her former professors reacted, “Ang pangit ng ginawa mo. ‘Wag ka na uling gagawa ng ganon. (What you did doesn’t look good. Don’t do anything like that again.)”
When the opportunity to work under director Joyce Bernal came along, Jadaone quickly grabbed the opportunity.
“Tumaas ang tingin ko sa paggawa ng pelikula, (My view of filmmaking became elevated)” she says of working with the seasoned film and television director. “Hindi lang siya ginugusto. Just because you got an uno in college and had professors telling you how good you are, that doesn’t mean you can actually make a film. (It’s not something you just want to do. Just because you got a 1 in college and had professors telling you how good you are, that doesn’t mean you can actually make a film.)”
She adds, “Even after 5 years of working in the industry with Direk Joyce, I still felt like quitting while working on Six Degrees.”
Six Degrees is a mockumentary that follows Lilia Cuntapay through her daily life, leading up to a fictionalized awards night where she is nominated Best Supporting Actress for the very first time.
Cuntapay is that old lady that Pinoy moviegoers are sure they’ve seen before, but don’t know her name. She was the mangkukulam (witch), ghost and all around creepy old woman for countless Filipino horror movies such as Shake, Rattle and Roll and Aswang.
In Six Degrees, she steps out of her thankless 30-year job as a film extra and plays the lead in her very own movie.
Aside from bagging 6 awards at the Cinema One Originals 2011 Awards and being nominated for 6 titles at the 35th Gawad Urian Awards this year, the film has touched audiences both here and abroad.
In Italy, where Six Degrees was invited at the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Jadaone was surprised to hear the audience bursting into laughter exactly where they were supposed to.
“The treatment of the movie is different because it’s a mockumentary and I used scenes of magic realism to depict what goes on inside Lilia’s head,” she says. “But it’s actually very mainstream.”
Indeed, Six Degrees isn’t one of those highfalutin independent movies that pretentious artsy and intellectual people watch to decipher hidden meanings and to discuss douchery over wine. It is immediately relatable. It tells the story of a proud, hardworking but unacknowledged film extra who dreams of her day in the sun.
Anyone who aspires for something knows what it’s like to want to be appreciated, while dreading to be the next Van Gogh.
“I haven’t made my dream film. Six Degrees isn’t it for me,” Jadaone surprisingly says of her most recognized work to date. “I’d like to make Filipino romantic comedies. I grew up with movies like ‘Til There Was You, Don’t Give Up, One More Chance,” the witty, unabashedly jologs woman admits.
She also doesn’t have any pretentions of being a high brow, experimental filmmaker. “Mas gusto ko kapag mas marami ang nakakapanood, (I prefer that more people are able to watch)” she says of her love for the mainstream. Incidentally, she and the team are still working on gaining a commercial release for Six Degrees which, having seen it, this author thinks is a very worthy cause.
As passionate as she is about her craft, Jadaone doesn’t entertain lofty visions of changing the film industry, much less the world. Nevertheless, she doesn’t believe in mediocrity.
“Don’t seek to change the system. Pero ikaw, gawin mo yung pinaka-maganda lagi. (But you, you can always do the good thing.)” – Rappler.com
(Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay is showing at the CCP Dream Theater on July 28, Saturday, 3:30pm. Tickets are at P150, available at CCP and Ticketworld. Students get a 20% discount.)