by Nestor Cuartero
JUST A THOUGHT: “Change the changeable, accept the unchangeable, and remove yourself from the unacceptable.” – Denis Waitley
AWARDING MAESTRA: Two recent positive developments rushed the playdate on Dec. 8 (Friday) of an advocacy film called “Maestra.”
First, the Lemuel Lorca-megged feature merited a Grade A rating from the Cinema Evaluation Board. It was subsequently invited to take part in CineLokal, where it has been assigned eight theaters at SM malls. It is now showing.
Second, the same film also recently won honors at the Five Continents Film Festival (online) in Venezuela, where lead star Ana Luna was named best actress. Archie del Mundo also won for best story.
Ana plays the central character in “Maestra,” which tells the stories of three teachers linked together by a common thread, their dedication to the teaching profession against all odds.
Lorca says the film is based primarily on a viral post on Facebook about Iah Seraspi, a fisherman’s daughter from Romblon who topped the board exams for teachers. Iah confessed she was so poor they had no electricity at home.
The film also features inspiring real-life stories of Gennie Panguelo, an Aeta-Ilocana, who taught in a school on top of Pinatubo Valley and Espie Bautista, an 80-year old teacher played by Gloria Sevilla.
TEACHERS DESERVE MORE: Producer Carl Balita, a nurse by training (UST) and a teacher by calling, says he was inspired to bankroll the film as he was moved by its strong message.
“It is time we honored our teachers, who have done so much to shape us into what we are today,” he told a recent press conference.
Internationally awarded actress Angeli Bayani said she accepted the film, which was shot in a difficult, far-flung location (Mount Pinatubo in Pampanga), because she believes we must give importance to teachers. Angeli’s mother is a public school teacher.
Screenwriter Archie himself is a former teacher. He knows by heart the huge sacrifices teachers make in the practice of their profession.
MISSION DISTRIBUTION: As a film producer, Balita has a mission. And that is to help market and distribute independently made films.
Realizing the odds he’s facing as an independent producer, he is planning to set up his own distribution company using the resources of his established company, the Carl Balita Review Center.
“My goal is to help solve the distribution problem of indies.”
The center currently has 95 branches nationwide. In 2018, he hopes to put up at least five more centers in the provinces.
These centers, he says, can serve as the distribution arm and market of noteworthy indie films.
“I hope to distribute indies myself. I plan to use my branches, so that in the end, indie producers will no longer be at the mercy of giants who bite our necks,’’ he says.
Balita’s film outfit hopes to produce five more films in 2018. “Maestra” is only his second film, following “Nars” released almost 10 years ago.
Balita likes message films. Those with a strong message yet told with quality.
He plans to produce more films about society’s unsung heroes.
He has started with the lives of nurses and teachers.
He wants to do next, for example, the stories of midwives (comadrona) in the rural areas who ride horses to deliver babies.
He calls these projects purpose-driven films.
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