July 30, 2019 – Vinz Lamorena
Thop Nazareno isn’t one to be defined by his last film. Sure, “Kiko Boksingero” was a knockout (with three awards under its belt), but the director’s coming-of-age movie streak is far from over. His second Cinemalaya feature titled “Edward” continues on the road of father-son relationships, exploring the distance between the two characters.
“It’s a second of a trilogy,” Nazareno told alike. It’s a movie that continued to evolve in the set and Nazareno allowed it to. He kept revising the script until he found the right groove for the film. The 2019 film festival entry is said to mirror life’s harsh realities and dives into the perspectives of boyhood emerging from the confines of a public hospital. It also questions the dynamic of two dependent personas, and nudges on the constant rush to grow up without realizing our parents grow old in the process.
“The milieu itself is a character—the hospital itself is a character. It has something that it wants to say. Even the different patients in the movie also have their own stories. Who Edward meets, we get to meet as the audience,” the director shared.
“Edward” is a film that demanded scale and dedication and Nazareno created it the way he loved movies: Straightforward, comedic, and real. But it’s also one that carries a purpose beyond telling a story—lending a platform for injustice to be recognized as it moves seamlessly between the lines of reality and fiction without taking away the focus on its characters.
alike sat down with the director to talk about the upcoming film:
What’s with your fascination on father-son stories?
I conceptualized this story with Denise O’Hara right after my first Cinemalaya film, “Kiko Boksingero.” I said, bitin na bitin pa ako sa father-son story. That aspect was the most crucial for me. You know, it’s actually weird. A lot of people ask me if I have issues with my father—I don’t. We’re good. I think I started being inclined to these stories when I watched a load of European films. They have such a different culture when it comes to the family. I think that’s where I’m always coming from—I couldn’t relate personally so I am able to question what seems “normal.”
I am able to feel the pain and the injustice more whenever I’m looking from the outside. I get to see what is wrong. Like the movie, the people who are in the hospitals and those who work there, they don’t complain anymore because they see the whole system as normal. Same with a kid who is growing up with problems with his dad, he’ll find it normal until he gets the chance to compare his situation to other people.
Can you tell me more about your upcoming film, Edward?
I merged my fascination of father-son stories with the public hospital milieu. The latter was inspired by two people in our team and their experiences. I got to feel their pain. They experienced having to take care of a loved one who was confined, and for a time it made it seemed like they were living at the hospital. They were just teenagers when this happened I felt more inspired to make sure their stories got told.
For this film, the milieu itself is a character. The hospital itself is a character. It has something that it wants to say. The different patients in the movie also have their own stories.
Is it natural for you to inject humor in your films?
I think that’s really how I am as a director. I make films that I myself would want to watch. I don’t like melodramatic films that much—I always aim for realism, the truth. I try to be always honest with myself. In reality, even when you’re sad, you don’t spend every minute sulking. Here, I try to see the humor in the character of a teenager—how does a child see the world as a playground?
Do you want to write or direct a full-blown comedic film?
I want to. I enjoy comedy especially when the actors are collaborative. Almost all the humor of this film is born in the set. It’s instinctive. Like our teaser with the electric fan, it wasn’t even in the script. Louise, the lead, also acts on a whim.
Can you tell me more about your lead, Louise Abuel?
The audition process took long for the lead role. We started in December last year. The lead had to be first because every other character will have to follow. It was hard to find for one. I saw Louise in the waiting area and I knew he looked perfect for the role. I was praying during his entire audition that he’d deliver what we were looking for.
It wasn’t like the usual auditions, I really talk to the actors during this process. Now we have a brotherly relationship that allows ideas to come out—and come up. When you have a relationship like that, there is no intimidation. He gets the script, doesn’t overthink it, gives his input, and doesn’t feel the need to impress me and does what he feels is natural for the role.
What do you think did Louise personally bring into the character of Edward?
We’re living in such a conservative country that may not recognize reality for what it is, so it’s actually a challenging role for someone who is a minor. I also know for a fact that Louise isn’t like Edward in real life, he’s the complete opposite. He’s a good kid. I was surprised by his courage to really own the role and he had no complaints.
He’s also very collaborative. I always tell him: “If it doesn’t feel natural to you, don’t do it, suggest something we can debate about.” It’s actually come to the point where we’ve started counting the suggestions that have made the cut when it comes to giving directions. His dedication really surprised me.
What were the difficulties you faced in making your second film?
It’s a bigger scale in terms of logistics, talents. It’s intimidating. Also, the team is different—it’s my first time working with a lot of them. My producer is also Joyce Bernal, who I grew up idolizing and all of a sudden she’s my mentor! She doesn’t want me to be pressured, but I can’t help but try to impress her. I want to be like her. We both started as editors.
Do you think the aspect of social statement will be a mainstay in the movies that you do?
I really came out of my comfort zone for this film. It’s a film that has a social statement but I found the courage to use the medium as a tool to inspire and send a message. I don’t want to determine what the audience should take away from all this. I just wanted to show reality—our healthcare system, the situation of our doctors and nurses—without insisting on the message they should take away.
For sure, I’ll try to inject it whether in indie or mainstream without being too pushy. I try to stay away from films that force its message to its audience. I still want to make films that people can enjoy, that I, myself, can enjoy watching.
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