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Entertainment

The Rapist: Pro-rape or anti-rape?

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star

As it did when it was shown to media guys at a recent merienda presscon, Diane Ventura’s 15-minute short film The Rapist is bound to make many people think…hard! Is the movie pro-rape or is it anti-rape?

Marking Diane’s bow as a director, The Rapist is the story of a suspected rapist (played by Marco Morales) who undergoes psychiatric evaluation (with Cherie Gil as the therapist). As the suspect recalls what happened (from his point of view), the motives of those involved in the case become blurred, putting the set roles between client and therapist on shaky ground.

I won’t spoil the suspense by even giving the slightest hint about the ending. Suffice it to say that you, too, will be left wondering, well, who is what and what is who.

Produced by Diane’s own DViane productions, The Rapist was hailed as one of the Top 3 Most Popular Films and nominated for Best Short Film at last year’s International Film Festival Manhattan (IFFM) in which Jacky Woo won Best Actor and, the previous year, beauty queen-turned-actress Liza Diño won Best Actress. It competed with 42 other short films from countries including USA, Taiwan, Australia, Belgium, Russia, United Kingdom, South Korea, Italy, France and New Zealand.

The film is timely because it came out amidst the raging issue about rape which got into sharp international focus after a student was gang-raped in India, who later died at a Singapore hospital where she was transferred.

“Is my film pro-rape or is it anti-rape?” Diane, who was accused by some quarters for being pro-rape, repeated the question from the media guys. “I understand how this movie could be misconstrued as condoning the vile act of rape. In the film, I’m not talking about the jump-out-of-the-bushes assault of a helpless victim. I’m talking about certain situations in which a girl actually has the power and capability to get herself out of a possibly precarious situation that makes her feel uncomfortable and unsettled. It’s about female empowerment and not allowing to be put in a situation that women don’t want to be in or get themselves in a situation where their decision-making capabilities are compromised.”

Before some people raise an eyebrow and “question” about Diane’s qualifications, they must be educated on the fact that Diane took up Art Studies in UP and a course in Advertising Management in La Salle, prior to taking up Filmmaking in 2009 at the New York University and is currently taking up Film Studies at the New York Foundation for the Arts. She has also done music videos and creative production here while managing the ground-breaking band Eraserheads along with the bands Domino and Pupil. Diane’s former partner Ely Buendia, lead vocalist of Eraserheads whom she managed when he went solo, is The Rapist’s musical scorer.

Cherie is Diane’s first and only actress in mind for the role of the therapist.

“I wouldn’t have done the movie if Cherie said no,” revealed Diane who approached Cherie even if they didn’t know each other. “I couldn’t imagine any other actress playing the character. Luckily, I have a friend who knows Cherie whom I met only once at a party a long, long time ago. I sent Cherie the script and then I got a call from her. She said that she liked it. That fast, that easy. Incidentally, I made the movie not so much to make money but simply because I like to do it.”

Diane made the perfect choice. Cherie gives a relaxed performance, so sure and so confident of herself as a therapist should be, until towards the end when….oops! Didn’t I just say that I wouldn’t give away the ending (so you must watch the movie from the beginning to fully appreciate it)?

Noted for his bold flicks (in some of which he stripped to the buff), Marco proves beyond any reasonable doubt that he can do more than just bare his body. In The Rapist, the actor in him comes to the fore and his performance will make you forget the old “bold” Marco and remember him for being a credible actor.

“Hindi siya nasapawan ni Cherie. Marco was able to stand his ground,” said Diane who looks good enough to be in front of, not only behind, the camera if only she is not shy, adding, “I’m more comfortable behind the camera because I want to be in control of the creative process, although I did take up an acting course in New York so that I would understand actors better.”

The fact that the actors were shot in close-ups adds to the beauty of the beauty which is in glossy black-and-white to better create the right mood, done on an almost shoe-string budget.

“I like close-up shots when I have certain messages I like to highlight,” said Diane. “I give a lot of thought to it…what camera angles best suit the scene. It’s never a random thing.”

Told that there’s a Hitchcock quality to the movie, Diane smiled.

“I’m a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock,” she confessed. “Like him, I want to make people think, even if I may unwittingly confuse them.”

What’s up?

 Your Aunt Charo Santos-Concio’s Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK) features the story of Senatoriable Grace Poe-Llamanzares (played by Erich Gonzales) who will discuss how she was adopted by FPJ and his widow Susan Roces. MMK airs tonight at 8:30 after Wansapanataym. (For a comprehensive story about that aspect of Grace’s life, stay tuned to Funfare.)

 Maricel Soriano was dropped from the cast of the ABS-CBN soap Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin after she reprimanded co-star Gerald Anderson for not acting to Maricel’s “standard.” Maricel was replaced by Dawn Zulueta. Now, did you know that another drama actress will be “killed” prematurely (to be replaced by a popular soap bida-kontrabida) in the early episodes of a new soap (another channel) because she has been, uhm, “misbehaving”?

 Is it true that John “Sweet” Lapus and Vice Ganda clashed in a murahan (cursing) match? Was it because Sweet felt that Vice “stole” the project Boy Girl Bakla Tomboy from him? Vice plays the title role, with Maricel Soriano and Gabby Concepcion as his parents, and Wenn Deramas as director.

 From Efren Montano, this appeal: A token cash reward (pabuya) will be given to anyone who can find a red coin purse with USB which was lost recently either in the Old Kapitolyo office of Laguna Gov., E.R. Ejercito in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, or at a restaurant in Calamba, also in Laguna. The USB will have no value to the finder except to the owner as it contains important personal files. Finders may contact Lance at 0920-8130697 or 0917-8314824.

(E-mail reactions at [email protected]. You may also send your questions to [email protected]. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

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