New foreign film spotlights on Philippine traditional circumcision rites
By Archie Del Mundo
Unlike most international films that portray the Philippines as a gritty passage to the underworld, a new foreign production will highlight some of our strongest suits as a race - that of the proverbial Filipino family values and traditions.
Italian-American filmmaker Phil Giordano explores the Filipino masculine psyche by making a short film about the rites of passage that most local boys have to undergo: "circumcision" or "tuli." Pegged as a passion project, the international film currently being shot in Cavite taps the talents of acting luminary John Arcilla (Metro Manila, The Bourne Legacy) and Indie Film Princess, and currently the toast of Scandinavian cineastes - Mercedes Cabral (Thirst, Serbis, Rosita).
Supot (Uncircumsized) tells the story of a young boy who needs to prove to his father that the mark of his manhood goes beyond having enough courage to endure the infamous age-old patriarchal tradition. The film, produced under NYU Tisch School in Singapore, turns to Kickstarter in order to gather more support and international presence.
Giordano, who directed the award winning short - The Empty Playground, currently resides and works in Singapore as a graduate film student and a commercial director.
"Being raised in an Italian-American family, I have always wanted to make a film about a boy and his father based on my relationship with my own dad. When my wife told me about "tuli"in the Philippines, I have found my own story," Giordano reflected.
Fresh off a critically acclaimed titular performance in the Danish film Rosita, Mercedes Cabral plays Cora, the nurturing mother figure. John Arcilla, on the other hand, plays the domineering father whose idea of masculinity takes a whole generation of Filipino patriarchy into the rough. Arcilla is known for his wildly intense yet extremely intuitive character portrayal - a mark of a classically trained performing artist.
A child performer from a provincial theater community, Andre Fajarito takes his first film role as the boy whose journey to manhood is life changing. The director prides Fajarito's acting debut as world class in the moulds of both Cabral and Arcilla.
It can be recalled that a film of the same theme was also produced in 2005. Aptly titled "Tuli" - the film was directed by Auraeus Solito and was lauded internationally; earned notoriety for its subject matter and controversial cinematic choices. Giordano's The Empty Playground tackles the infamy of child abuse in the very eyes of a psychologically struggling offender. One can only guess how this new film will be laid out soon.