Diaz’s docu on Journey now on US theatrical run

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star

Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, the critically-acclaimed Ramona Diaz documentary on the legendary band Journey and the phenomenal rise from obscurity of its Filipino front man Arnel Pineda, is finally on its theatrical release across the United States starting last Friday, March 8, in New York and California and 13 other key markets/cities.

“After its world premiere at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, the crowd-pleasing opus has been anticipated by thousands of Journey’s loyal fans who never fail to pack the group’s live performances in all 50 states,” reported Funfare’s Big Apple correspondent Edmund Silvestre. 

Arnel with the rest of the members of Journey, one of America’s best-selling bands, and with docu filmmaker Ramona Diaz (right).  

It follows the real-life rock ‘n roll fairy tale of Arnel, a former street kid and struggling singer who became the lead vocalist of one of America’s best-selling and well-loved bands after Journey discovered him on — where else? — YouTube while the band was faced with the dilemma of finding a replacement for its lead singer, Steve Perry, who quit the group.

New York-based filmmaker Vincent “Ting” Nebrida, who is behind the film’s promotion, said Don’t Stop Believin’ is a must-see among all Filipinos.

“The fact that an American distributor, Cinedigm, picked it up and is spending for its marketing and distribution, is a huge deal and it says a lot about the quality of the film,” Ting told Funfare. “When you think about it, the film is about a Filipino talent (Arnel), directed by a Fil-Am filmmaker (Ramona Diaz), made for Filipinos and Americans as well, so it really deserves our total support. Its success can only empower us as a people.”

The Philippine Consulate General in New York has also been promoting the documentary which the New York Magazine dubbed as “one of the most remarkable rock stories of recent years,” and the New York Daily News described as “winning enough to woo even the staunchest Journey foe.”   

Edmund quoted a Philippine Consulate statement in an e-mail to the Fil-Am community: “Let’s empower ourselves by expressing our national pride — especially with the recent successes of boxing champ Nonito Donaire and all-time great Manny Pacquiao, NBA coach champ Erik Spoelstra, Miss Universe first runner-up Janine Tugonon, American Idol first runner-up Jessica Sanchez and, of course, our very own Arnel Pineda.”

Edmund also quoted Consul Zaldy Patron, a self-confessed Journey fan, as saying, “The docu is awe-inspiring and absorbing. You’ll find yourself rooting for Arnel. His story makes you think that anything is possible under the sun. And you’ll see why Journey stays on top of its game.”

The docu, which has won this year’s Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 24th Palm Springs International Film Festival, is also anticipated in other countries where the illustrious band continues to rule with its timeless hits like Faithfully, Separate Ways, Anyway You Want It, Lights, Wheel In The Sky and Don’t Stop Believin’ still lording over the airwaves.

In New York City, the film started screening March 8 at Quad Cinema in Manhattan, Williamsburg Cinemas in Brooklyn, and Sunnyside Center Cinema in Queens.

In California, it will be shown at Laemmle NoHo 7 in North Hollywood, AMC Orange 30 (The Block) in Orange, Reading Cinemas Carmel Mountain 12 in San Diego, and Reading Cinemas Gaslamo 15, also in San Diego.   

Other screenings include Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Massachusetts; AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Illinois; West End Cinema in Washington D.C.; Gateway Film Center in Columbus, Ohio; Malco Wolfchase Cinema in Memphis, Tennessee; Bowtie Criterion Cinemas at Movieland in Richmond, Virginia; CCA Cinematheque in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Pearlridge West 16 in Aiea, Hawaii; Kapolei 16 in Kapolei, Hawaii; and Tower Theatre in Salt Lake City.

(For Filipinos in the US, to check the complete list of screening and schedules, visit www.EverymansJourney.com. Visit facebook.com/JourneyMOVIE.)

BB acquits herself in Halik ng Tarantula

BB Gandanghari didn’t disappoint in Halik ng Tarantula (based on the best-selling novel which inspired the Hollywood movie Kiss of the Spider Woman), mounted over the weekend at the Teatrino (Greenhills, San Juan City) as the first venture of her own production.

My friends and I caught the first staging last Thursday, March 7 (last show was on March 9), and although we found it much too long (two hours and a half, excluding the 15-minute intermission) we sat it out until the much-awaited(?) finale when BB as Molina (played by William Hurt in the movie) was locked in a lip service with her leading man, newcomer Jovic Monsod as Valentin (played by the late Raul Julia in the movie).

I guess those who were anxiously waiting for the much-ballyhooed “passionate” nude love scenes (the play’s publicity come-on) went home a bit disappointed (bitin), especially since those who watched the press preview the night before were gushing over how BB and her other leading man, Jet Alcantara, went “all the way,” kissing in gay abandon and stripping to the buff before the curtain fell.

Was the first regular run purposely made more “tame” because Jovic’s parents and BB’s mom Eva Cariño were in the audience? (Said Eva, “Ano kaya ang makikita ko?” adding in jest, “Baka baliw na ako paglabas ko dito.” Luckily, she survived the play with her sanity intact.)

Newcomer Jovic, who was among the “tenants” of Big Brother in Pinoy Big Brother’s Teen Edition four years ago (“When he was 16,” said his manager Jonas Gaffud), was a revelation even if he buckled (but only slightly) in some lines. He appeared comfortable onstage and he deserved a pat on the shoulder for having memorized those long lines during the more than two hours that he was onstage with BB. Did the third actor back out because he was intimidated by the challenge of delivering those kilometric dialogues?

We can’t say anything about Jet’s performance because we didn’t see him. But maybe we would, in case BB staged a repeat as she promised.

Three cheers to director Soxie Topacio for his controlled work, despite the fact that he was handling relatively new actors.

(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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