Filmmaker Adolf Alix Jr. flies high

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Prolific Filipino filmmaker Adolfo Alix Jr. has just arrived from Canada after the very successful world premier of his most recent output, Dark is the Night, at the just-concluded Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

It’s actually Alix’s third film showcased at this annual highly touted North American filmfest. “My previous films Adela [starring Anita Linda] and Isda [with Bembol Roco and Cherry Pie Picache] were also screened in Toronto, and it’s always an exciting experience to go back to where your films are much appreciated,” he told us.

Felix Roco

“It’s a very appropriate time to showcase the film to the international audience. I’m just so happy that the film was very well-received,” he added.

The festival web site has this to say about Alix’s new film: “The most recent film from Adolfo Alix Jr., one of the Philippines’s most adventurous independent filmmakers, looks at the appalling costs of current Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s extrajudicial war on the country’s drug trade, which, by conservative estimates, has already resulted in 7,000 deaths. A middle-aged married couple makes ends meet by dealing drugs on the side; when they decide to quit the trade, their addicted son goes missing. As the desperate parents scour the city for clues, the victims of the drug war continue to pile up, their bodies often dumped in the streets adorned with placards proclaiming their guilt. Pointedly questioning how we can ever consign other people to the category of the ‘inhuman’, Alix also shows his nuanced awareness of his country’s complex situation via the Duterte wrist band that the mother wears—an ironic reminder that strongmen populists often find support from those they are most likely to abuse.”

Alix is very happy about the turnout of the film’s world premier. “We had two well-attended screenings, and my lead actor Gina Alajar dropped all her commitments in the Philippines to join me in the festival. We even had an interview with the BBC.”

He shared that he made the best decision of casting Alajar in the lead role. “Gina is like a chameleon who seamlessly inhabits the skin of the character she’s portraying and brings them on screen brimming with nuances and pathos. She’s also one with a truly kindred spirit. I’m a fan of her brilliant work as an actress, and now I’m honored to have worked with one of Philippine cinema’s best. I’m looking forward to more collaborations in the future.”

Aside from Alajar, the film boasts of an all-star cast that includes Bembol Roco, Felix Roco, Phillip Salvador, Angeli Bayani, Jess Mendoza, Angel Aquino,  Sid Lucero, William Lorenzo, Alan Paule and the great Anita Linda, among others.

Dark is the Night is the 30th full-length feature film of Alix and was part of the Contemporary World Cinema Section of the TIFF. It will be back in Canada this fall as part of a special showcase of films from the Philippines, billed as “Resistance in Filipino Cinema”. “I was told there will be about a dozen films from the Philippines presented at the TIFF Lightbox, and Dark is the Night will be part of the series.”

ALIX TO SIT AT THE 2017 APSA JURY

WE also got news that Alix has been named as one of the first three members of the 2017 Asia Pacific Screen Awards (Apsa) International Jury, as announced by the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Australia, Graham Quirk.

Alix will be joined by Adilkhan Yerzhanov, a writer, director and cinematographer from Kazakhstan; and Chinese actress He Sai Fei.

Quirk made the announcement during a special Apsa Academy event in Beijing, China, adding that the Australia Apsa are the region’s highest accolades in cinema, encompassing the world’s fastest-growing film region and responsible for half of the world’s total film output.

“Apsa was created to provide this important and diverse region with a prestigious award of its own and now, 11 years on, it has forged its place as the most esteemed award in the region.  The awards continue to shine a spotlight on powerful Asia Pacific stories and cross-cultural dialogue, and celebrate filmmakers whose accomplishments too often go unrecognized,” Quirck said. Two more names will be announced to complete the jury lineup that will select the winners in seven categories, including Best Film, a Jury Grand Prize, Direction, Cinematography, Screenplay and Performance by Actor and Actress.

“I’m both honored and humbled to be given this tall task to be part of the Apsa international jury this year,” Alix enthused, adding, “I look forward to watching the films in competition.”

The awards night for the 11th Apsa will be held on November 23 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in Australia.



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