Monday, April 12, 2010

Wi Ding Ho’s “Pinoy Sunday” opens First Taipei Golden Horse Fantastic Film Festival

By Nancy T. Lu

Hilarious is the adjective which best describes Wi Ding Ho’s first full-length movie “Pinoy Sunday.” The real life tale told by many overseas Filipino workers is generally peppered with sadness and pain. But the reel life drama is full of comic situations.

Manuel (Epy Quizon) and Dado (Bayani Agbayani) are Pinoy (Filipino) characters with an easy-go-lucky side. Despite the hardship and loneliness of life as migrant workers in Taiwan, they manage to grin while sharing experiences of their hearts as lonely hunters over Taiwan beer (not San Miguel beer, which is harder to find).The verbal exchanges of the two factory workers always trying to beat the Sunday curfew at the dorm – one fair-skinned and the other with dark brown complexion – leave spectators rolling in the aisle with laughter.

The comedy truly begins when they find an abandoned red sofa on the street one Sunday. Both decide to carry it all the way to their dorm. Imagine the two even attempting to get it on a public bus.

“Don’t think for a moment that the task of carrying the sofa across town as seen in the movie is easy,” remarked director Wi Ding Ho (shown on the extreme right in top photograph). “Believe me, it is not.”

The guys wear very colorful shirts and that is intentional. All the bright colors seen in the film match the cheerful and upbeat nature of the Filipino workers in Taiwan.

A typical tale about Pinoy workers can easily be melodramatic. But the director himself has observed to his own surprise right from the beginning the Filipinos hanging around a stretch on Zhongshan North Road to be a happy bunch. They seem quite capable of dealing positively with the difficulties of being away from loved ones and home while trying to earn money. Camaraderie among Filipinos abroad is strong.

Dialogues in the movie are in colloquial Tagalog or Pilipino. The involvement of a Philippine line producer (producer Mark Meilly and Spark Films) has helped in telling the story of Philippine migrant workers with credibility. There are Chinese subtitles.

Malaysian director Ho said he did not find his inability to speak Tagalog (or even the Ilongo dialect in one scene) a problem during the three-and-a half weeks of filming in Taiwan last year. While shooting the movie, actor Quizon picked up the Taiwanese song, "I'm Not Drunk," from the Taiwanese crew.

Ho asked Jack Pollack, his classmate at the New York University more than 10 years ago, to be the cinematographer of the movie which took five years in all to realize. Pollack played with vivid colors in the upbeat movie but shifted very briefly to black and white a few times in the film.

Wi Ding Ho’s “Pinoy Sunday” opened the First Taipei Golden Horse Fantastic Film Festival last April 9. Epy Quizon(shown on the extreme left in top photo), son of king of Philippine comedy Dolphy, flew back to Taipei to attend the world premiere of the movie.

Quizon confessed that he sat in awe over the presence of internationally-known Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien at the movie premiere. He watched closely Hou’s reaction during the showing of the film.

When Quizon’s turn to speak to the audience finally came, he pulled out his mobile phone and asked everyone to greet his mom in the Philippines.

Nubia Lin, a top professional model making her movie debut in this motion picture, towered over Quizon as they stood with director Ho for picture-taking earlier.

Meryll Soriano and Alessadra De Rossi are the other Filipino stars in the cast. All the extras, including the priest and the Catholic parishioners of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Danshui, attended the Taipei movie premiere and film festival opening.

Taiwan’s Government Information Office and NHK Japan helped produce the movie through funding.

Ho’s earlier successes have included short films “Respire” and “Summer Afternoon.” “Respire” was winner of the Kodak Discovery award and TV5 (very) Young critics’ Award at Cannes in 2005 while “Summer Afternoon” was selected for Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008.

1 comment:

  1. nancy, this is a great movie, and your summary is good! do you think there is a chance this movie could be nominated as best foreign film at the Oscars? I feel it is that good! Maybe? It's a really sad commentary on Taiwan society that movie theaters do not want to show this film here. Sigh. Taiwan is a mixed-blood society, but they don't want to admit it. SIGH.