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Da Dog Show to screen on World Premieres Film Festival beginning June 29

Cinephiles' most anticipated indie film about a dog trainer will finally have its world premiere
By Archie del Mundo

Four years after its production, one of the most anticipated films in the indie circuit - Da Dog Show will finally be projected on world screen on June 29 at SM North Edsa, The Block. Writer-director Ralston Jover shared with DLIST.PH the cinematic journey of his third film which is being tapped to conquer world cinema. 

The story and the filmmaker

Da Dog Show is based on the true story of the lives of Sergio, his tricks-performing dogs, and his mentally challenged daughter. It reflects the themes of uncompromising love and resiliency to survive. 

The film's writer/director, Ralston Jover, is the creative mind behind internationally acclaimed films that deal with the challenges of living in a third world country (Tirador, Manoro, Kubrador, Foster Child, Bendor, Baseco Bakal Boys). While his critics insist that he has yet to find his own voice and unique mould as a director, he confidently asserts that Da Dog Show can speak and pose profound challenge to his audience based on the observed apathetic attitude towards socio-political issues. 

"They are piled up with various issues (through media) which expose their apathy towards pressing socio-political issues, such as poverty and corruption. These issues come very quickly one after the next. The real problem is they tend to forget easily, they don't do anything to their resolves, leaving them overwhelmed." Jover expounded on the essence of human nature. "Even in dire situations, the purity of one's character reflects the very core of his/her humanity, it is still the person's goodness within that still triumphs in the end regardless of the difficulties he needs to overcome." 

The characters and the actors

Lou Veloso, the veteran actor who portrayed the role of Mang Sergio, shares his own journey as a thespian and his motivations in disappearing to the core of every character he brings on film. "I would observe people I meet exactly the way I see them. I create their stories based on how they appear, the way they speak, even the backstories of their facial marks. When I was a kid after school, I would walk a long distance and imagine stories based on everything I observe and imagine while on my way home. When I had to portray the role of a "taong grasa," I went and stayed in Jones Bridge and Avenida to stalk and observe a real taong grasa. By doing so, I discovered his true character/ story beyond what he actually physically projected to the world. He would turn out to be a man overwhelmed by his own pride and doing."

Veloso said he didn't know at first that he was a replacement actor for the role; he took time to study his real-life counterpart with the intention to fully understand the role's inner being.

Mercedes Cabral, who has just come from a very successful international film from Denmark (Frederricke Aspoeck's Rosita), received high praises for her performance as a woman with a mental age of a 6 year old from her co-actors, directors, and producers of the film. She said that this film is her most challenging film role to date. Based on the trailer alone, her performance seems flawlessly rendering which would most definitely herald recognitions here and abroad.

The usual criticism against actors who have supposedly natural style of acting when they are challenged to portray psychological roles, they tend to get lost in the layers of the characterization. However, Cabral remains peerless and exceptional, according to both Veloso and Jover.

The Producers and international prospects

German producer Sven Schnell told DLIST that Da Dog Show was invited for the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year but he had to beg off since the technical aspects of the film still had to be polished, particularly the musical score. Schnell said he wanted to present the film with high production value compared to other independent films that were dogged by technical imperfections. He believes that films like Da Dog Show has a huge market abroad, and will achieve its potentials if they are marketed properly to highlight the realities of the social conditions presented that have universal appeal and great impact to the audience regardless of geography. "European countries, for example, may be generally revered, but they have problems not different to less affluent ones. Greece is not doing very well, contrary to what is projected in media. Films play a pivotal role in presenting their real plight and here film serves its purpose. We have films that are entertaining, but we also have films that challenge people to question their situations."

The other producers of the film include former Filipina supermodel and now South America's dubbed Carnival Queen, Bessie Badilla. Badilla also served as Jover's producer for his debut film, Bakal Boys.

Schnell, who also serves as the film's international agent, intends to do more films with Filipino filmmakers and actors.

Da Dog Show will have a full run during the World Premieres Film Festival in Manila. Other screenings include July 3, 5PM at SM Megamall Cinema 6, and July 7, 1PM, at SM The Block Cinema 2. International screenings will follow very soon.

Dale Bacar
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