Anthony ‘Tboy’ Diaz V as top FBI agent Rouge Marquez, who gets caught up in a string of murders in Way of the Cross
Another look at the ‘cross’
Jerry Donato (The Philippine Star) - May 21, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Every human being carries a symbolic cross. It represents life’s struggles and sufferings. Through time, the human cross can be said to bring out the best ?— and the worst — in the person. A haunting past, however, can sometimes make the matter worst.

Way of the Cross, directed by Antonio Diaz and Gorio Vicuña, offers a new lens in defining that cross. It cinematically claims that human sufferings are real.

“We don’t explore any political or religious themes at all,” said Antonio, also the film’s executive producer, during a recent media call. Produced by Kaizen Studios, Way of the Cross is an international full-length feature with Filipino cast. “Religion is just the backdrop, Philippines is just the backdrop. This is a really character-driven story. And there’s motivation for each character to drive the movie forward.“ The themes being explored like family, love and compassion are universal and they strike a chord with global audiences. Antonio hoped that at the end of the screening, cineastes will go home with a sense of hope.

Select members of media had the opportunity to attend its special private screening last week. Based on the audience reaction, Way of the Cross didn’t disappoint. In fact, the appeal of it lies in the interplay of individual narratives that makes the whodunit or guessing game unpredictable. When one reaches the crux, the defining, pivotal scene, one can’t help but feel surprised by the turn of events. The storytelling pace gets faster. The dramatis personae need to run after the “source” of the place’s “cross.”

Roxanne Barcelo and Alvin Anson on the movie set

“The murders don’t have anything to do with religion, so to speak, and religion doesn’t have anything to do with the murders,” said Antonio. Moviegoers are challenged to do a mental review of the characters in making sense of the world built by the movie.

“I play Maria,” shared Roxanne Barcelo, “who does volunteer work in a local church. Mabait, walang kasing linis ang (kanyang) budhi dito.”

Her Maria meets Rogelio “Rouge” Marquez, played by Anthony “Tboy” Diaz V, president of Kaizen Studios, Co. Ltd. Tboy is the son of Antonio.

“I play the role of Rouge, Rogelio, who’s a top FBI agent in the States. (He was actually asked to go and) bury his estranged father, who is a top NBI agent in the Philippines,” he said. “And he gets caught up in a lot of murder mysteries happened  as his FBI instincts kick in. He feels that he has to help solve the case, but his jurisdiction is not in the Philippines. So I get tangled up with colorful characters along the way.”

The other stars, who play interesting characters (all potential suspect of the series of killings in the movie), are Alvin Anson (also Way of the Cross producer), Elaine Carriedo Lozano (line producer), Rafael Rosell, Miguel Vasquez, Daiana Menezes, Giovanni Respall, Yussef Esteves, Vic Romano, Apollo Abraham, Oz Rivera and Danielle Chopin. The other executive producer is Lani Dizon. 

“The serial killer doesn’t want to be a serial killer. (The serial killer) just evolves that way,” said Antonio, adding that the serial killer is not the type the movie-watching public is accustomed to. 

Way of the Cross was 98.5 percent filmed in the Philippines. Its narrative is first set in Las Vegas, and then in the fictional bucolic, small town of San Antonio. The production notes share that the murders happen during the Lenten season and “send waves of terror among local town people.”

With that, viewers are acquainted with religious images and the life-and-death dichotomy. Way of the Cross is based on the original concept story of Gorio and with the screenplay by Tboy and Antonio.

Director Antonio Diaz with Roxanne

Tboy said that the actors went through an intensive audition process (that included screen tests) to make sure that they fit the characters. They also learned the acting style that the film required. “I think we’ve picked a really, really great cast — perfect,” he said. One can say that the actors had to read the text, know the subtext and understand the context.

“It would definitely (be) a recreation of a different persona,” said Roxanne of her acting experience. “Every detail, we wrote it down.” She had to map out Maria’s hobbies, thoughts and past. Roxanne, together with the movie think-tank, had to surface “what wasn’t written in the script,” and to create her mentality.

“I really enjoyed the process,” she added. “It’s definitely a standard to live by. And I took it with me in every project (I did) afterwards. As an actor, you always learn new things. I’ve definitely learned a lot (from Way of the Cross).”

Way of the Cross, as Tboy put it, is “a huge labor of love… We got some awesome talent and people.” Pinoys deserve to see it on the big screen.

(For details, call Elaine Lozano at +639158815481.)

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