MANILA, Philippines – Alessandra de Rossi is thrilled that her critically acclaimed film ”Busong” is finally getting a commercial release in its home country.
After a stellar tour of the international filmfest circuit which started in Cannes last year, “Busong” will have a celebrity premiere on April 17 at the Shangri-La Cineplex, where it will have a special theater run beginning April 18.
Alessandra realizes that no amount of rave reviews abroad can replace a warm reception by your own people. ”Busong” was exhibited at last year’s Cinemalaya shortly after its Cannes premiere, but a few screenings at the CCP and one screening at the UP Film Institute were simply not enough for the film to find the local audience it deserves.
“It’s one of the most exceptional projects I’ve done in my career,” says Alessandra, who is no stranger to films that have met international recognition.
She made a memorable film debut in 2000 with Carlitos Siguion-Reyna’s gripping melodrama “Azucena.” Two years later, she rose to a higher profile with the lead role in the Gil Portes film “Mga Munting Tinig,” which was picked up for distribution by Warner Bros. Pictures after touring the festival circuit.
Written and directed by Aureus Solito, “Busong” is a mystical film about the environmental dangers facing the idyllic province of Palawan.
In its non-linear narrative, Alessandra plays Punay, who suffers from a rare disease. Her brother carries her through the hills and beaches of Palawan as they search for a cure. They meet people who help them along the way; a woman searching for her husband, a fisherman who has lost his boat, and a shaman apprentice who has just returned from the city.
The Cinema Evaluation Board gave the film the maximum “A” rating and praised its lead star’s performance: “Alessandra as the sickly Punay is like a metaphor herself slouching toward metamorphosis.”
In order to give life to Punay, Alessandra carefully studied the mannerisms and behavior of a tribe in Palawan. She also willingly endured a series of three-hour makeup sessions with a prosthetics expert who created the look of the character.
The amazing change in Punay happens in a visually stunning sequence involving her and hundreds of butterflies.
“Matagal ko nang pinapangarap na makagawa ng eksenang gano’n at tuwang-tuwa ako na na-achieve ko ‘yun dito sa ‘Busong’,” says the actress.
Alessandra will never forget her experience watching that scene while attending Cannes last year, where “Busong” competed in the prestigious Directors Fortnight.
“Feeling ko, gandang-ganda ang mga French sa akin,” recalls the actress.
“Busong” has been exhibited in 20 festivals across Europe, Asia, and North America. It was hailed by the Wall Street Journal as one of the standout Asian films of 2011.
Aside from Alessandra’s acting, the CEB also cited the film’s fine direction, exceptional cinematography and apt musical score. It described “Busong” as a “wonderfully quiet, patiently crafted film, its beauty resting mainly on what it withholds as much as it tells.”
The director is, of course, excited that “Busong” will finally have
its homecoming. “We want our message about the environment to reach as many people. I hope the audience will support our film. If we want good films, we must support good films,” says Direk Aureus.