Direk Cathy: Equal treatment, not equal exposure

Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - June 17, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Director Cathy Garcia-Molina considers her new film Four Sisters and A Wedding a “big step” that she took not without much hesitation.

The Star Cinema 20th-anniversary offering is a family dramedy about the youngest and only boy in a brood of five named CJ (played by Enchong Dee) who decides to marry his girlfriend of three months, much to the dismay and disapproval of his older sisters Teddy (Toni Gonzaga), Bobbie (Bea Alonzo), Alex (Angel Locsin) and Gabbie (Shaina Magdayao). As they band together to resolve this “family emergency,” the sisters are also forced to re-examine their own complicated relationships with each other. The film rolls into cinemas nationwide on June 26.  

When it was pointed out to the lady director — who helmed this year’s biggest box-office hit yet, It Takes A Man & A Woman — that Four Sisters and A Wedding’s theme is a departure from her expertise that is rom-com, direk Cathy admitted that it’s the reason why she felt scared stiff doing the film. She made some requests with Star Cinema before finally accepting the project.

“I got so scared because I really don’t want to do a family drama. I’m afraid to explore it because it is something close to my heart. It’s a different story already if we’re talking about family,” direk Cathy told The STAR and other reporters after the movie’s recent grand presscon.

“Before I accepted it, I asked Star Cinema if they would allow me to make it a light drama and to make it a family story about siblings instead of a mother and daughter. I also tried to add a rom-com element to it. Hopefully, we were able to create a new flavor to the family drama. This is something new for me and something new maybe for the audience,” she added.

Another huge challenge that direk Cathy faced during the making of the film is handling an “all-star” cast. How do you suppose a director would do to guarantee that the likes of Bea, Angel and Toni — who have had topbilled films (some of them megged by direk Cathy herself) that went on to score big at the box-office or won them acting awards — will have their fair share of shining moments in one movie?

Apparently, direk Cathy promised them one thing: She couldn’t promise them equal exposure. “In fact, that’s what I promised them — that I cannot promise them equal exposure because at the end of the day, it’s the story that’s being told that is important,” she said.

Besides, she has said that the actors are “smart to know” that this is an ensemble film, a “collaboration of efforts,” not a solo project. 

Still, when she was directing Four Sisters and A Wedding, direk Cathy couldn’t avoid having that feeling that if she gave a cast member her attention, the rest might feel left out. “That’s why I don’t like holding parties because I feel like if I move to another table, I’ll be ignoring the guests on the other table,” she mused.

“I tried giving (the entire cast) equal treatment, making them feel that they are all of equal importance in the film, whether they have the same exposure or not. It was tough!” she shared.

Meanwhile, direk Cathy said that she took inspiration in directing the film from her own big family. She belongs to a brood of six girls and three boys. Her siblings are also in the arts as singers. She is the youngest (among the girls) so she can relate to the experiences of Enchong’s character. In a media release, she further said, “I belong to a family of nine, and yet I grew up alone. I have sisters who are old enough to be my parents and I’m the youngest. So I know that feeling of having a sibling who doesn’t feel like a sibling because they grew up ahead of you.”

In a time where having several children is seemingly discouraged and big families are increasingly seen as less of an asset and more of an inconvenience, the new Star Cinema film could shed light on the joys and fascinating dynamics of big families.

Direk Cathy said, “I realized that when you’re nine in the family, each one of you  is different, but at the end of the day, you’re still family. So no matter how different you are or how far you’ve grown apart, when that time comes when you’ll be needing each other, you know you’ll be there for each other.”

Also part of Four Sisters & A Wedding are Coney Reyes, Angeline Quinto, Sam Milby, Carmi Martin, Buboy Garovillo, Bernard Palanca and Janus del Prado.

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