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Angels was directed, meanwhile, by a hitherto unknown woman to us, named Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil
To find out more about this aberration, and other mysteries surrounding Angels, I, accompanied by my friend JP, decided to interview the creator of Angels herself, Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil
, last March 15 at her
townhouse in Quezon City.
Looking around the small Ongkeko-Marfil household, you already get a sense of the character of Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil
During the interview, Ongkeko-Marfil
sits on a swivel chair in front of a desk in their sala, and behind her
, a big replica of a Picasso painting drapes the wall below the stairs.To get a complete picture of how she
came up with Angels, I begin by asking about her
career and early years.
While in high school, Ongkeko-Marfil
loved to analyze and talk about movies after watching them.
Bernal, in the sets of such films as Himala, loved to explain things, says Ongkeko-Marfil
went into television with PETABISYON, Ongkeko-Marfil
learned the ropes of TV directing, encouraged by the likes of Soxie Topacio (who also appears in a supporting role in Angels, incidentally).Besides her work in PETA, she also held various jobs in advertising, TV, video, and film, earning recognition and awards in the process.
Then, after a long respite -- she
child -- she
decided to go mainstream because she
yearned to reach more people with her
worked for Star Cinema
as Assistant Director to Chito RoÃƒÂ±o in the film Eskapo.She
also directed TV shows like Maalaala Mo Kaya.But what she
really wanted to do was to direct films.The big screen, she
says, has always been a fascination for her
would make it a point to sit in front when watching movies.
It was the height of discontent, restlessness for the kid," says Ongkeko-Marfil
.These dark episodes found their way into the movie, and Ongkeko-Marfil
was anxious whenever Jonathan was gone, because she
didn't want to end the story on a sad note, like the child not coming back, for instance.
The struggles also went beyond the shooting of the movie.At the Cinemanila Film Festival, the version that was shown, technically speaking, wasn't really the quality that Ongkeko-Marfil
wanted, mainly because of mistakes made during the editing.After the Cinemanila screening, Star Cinema
wanted to show the film abroad first, to international film festivals.But being the perfectionist that she
asked them to hold their plans.She
had fallen in love with the movie and its characters, and she
wanted to do everything to improve it.With the help of friend and fellow filmmaker Nonoy Dadivas, they re-edited the movie, and fixed the audio.Because of their jobs and previous commitments, it was a long and arduous task.But eventually, it came to pass that last March 12 at the UP Film Center, it was shown for just the second time.Their hard work paid off, for the result was a movie that had almost the same look as something that was shot on traditional film.Ongkeko-Marfil
believes in the responsibility of the director.That there's this implicit duty to affect the lives of the viewers in a positive way, and not just the viewers, but also the lives of the people she
is trying to depict.She says that, coming from PETA, she came from the social-realism kind of storytelling, the "tell-it-as-it-is" type.
But experience has taught her
that it is better to approach filmmaking from the perspective of someone trying to understand a person or a character in a story.She
avoids portraying characters in black and white terms.She
tries to really understand their motivations.And from her
experience, this approach has really paid off.
would also like to think that, like her
original intentions, the movie had a positive effect on the family.She
is hesitant to take any credit, but she
relates that after the movie was shown in Cinemanila, Jonathan, who by then had transferred to a better school and had watched the movie with his
new teachers and classmates, became a child again.He
had fewer tantrums and laughed more frequently, and eventually stopped running away.
When asked about her
favorite filmmakers, Ongkeko-Marfil
says that she
likes filmmakers -- such as her
favorite Zhang Yimou -- who make films which make her
"think about life" and which are "rich in relationships, nuances and understanding of people."When one tries to appreciate what Angels has managed to accomplish, Ongkeko-Marfil
may just as well be talking about her