Alfred Vargas as Andres Bonifacio in the hands of Director Richard Somes
I ACCIDENTALLY bumped into Director Richard Somes at his audition in Quezon City for his most recent film assignment “Supremo” to which shortly after I became privy to the orientation he gave to those who passed his audition.
He told them that the location of “Supremo” will mostly be in Bagac, Bataan where turn-of-the century edifices are perfect for his set. I could sense that the project at hand is Director Somes’s most ambitious foray into the historical genre with three of the most controversial heroes of Philippine history, namely Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo and Macario Sakay as main protagonists.
I say ambitious in the sense that I have yet to watch a definitive film treating the most sensitive lives of the aforementioned heroes either on the big or small screen. Raymond Red’s “Sakay” was a tad short in content and craft.
Robert Arevalo’s Bonifacio which he did under the National Artist for Theater Cecile Guidote Alvarez’s production for Balintataw TV anthology was shopworn and lacked the balls to even hint as to the motive(s) behind Aguinaldo’s signing the death warrant of Andres and brother Procopio Bonifacio.
Director Mario O’Hara’s “Ang Paglilitis Ni Andres Bonifacio” was way bit theatrical for comfort and obviously tipped the balance in favor of Aguinaldo you think it was an apologia for the puppet president who as we all know was duped by the American government to toe the line. I told Director Richard Somes about the film’s downside in passing.
At the presscon held earlier for Gov. George “ER” Ejercito’s starrer “El Presidente Emilio Aguinaldo,” I gamely posed an intriguing question to Director Tikoy Aguiluz seated on the presidential table as to whose point-of-view the film would take, short of asking if it is pro-Aguinaldo, anti-Bonifacio vice-versa, or in-between?
Director Aguiluz who is a friend took my question in stride and breezed through his answer in all candor like any UP alumnus who knows well his Phil. history 101. It was unfortunate the project would no longer push through with Director Aguiluz.
Why am I belaboring all these? I am posing the challenge to Director Somes this time to come out with a historical film epic such as “Supremo” in the direction of a definitive film as definitive as it can be.
The “Supremo” as a heavyweight film project for Director Somes came in the heels of the success of his “Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang,” both in terms of box-office and critical acclaim. Film critic Ver F. Pacete in his review of the movie aligned it with “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang,” “Himala,” “Sister Stella,” and “Oro, Plata, Mata.”
His “Yanggaw,” a Cineme One Originals winner which won for him the coveted title Best Director for PMPC (Phil. Movie Press Club) was rated peerless by film reviewer Michael Guillen, adding that it has a terribly magnetic vision almost close to the godfather of horror films Masaki Kobayashi’s “Kwaidan.”
I have high expectations that Director Somes, a fair-haired guy from Bacolod who was raised in the stable of ABS-CBN’s teleseryes and in other major production outfits would come to par in his coming oeuvre “Supremo” given that he is also a competent production designer and scriptwriter which makes him more than an auteur director himself in the real sense of the word.
To his credit Director Somes thus far has won Gawad Urian Awards Best Direction for “ Affliction;” PMPC Star Awards Best Director for “Yanggaw;” Metro Manila Film Festival Best Production Design for “Ang Panday;” Metro Manila Film Festival Best Production Design for “Exodus: Tales from the Enchanted Kingdom;” and PMPC Star Awards Digital Movie Director of the Year for “Affliction.”
The last question that all and sundry in the industry would dare ask is if he could totally transform Alfred Vargas into a most noteworthy actor out of his most vital role as the “Supremo” Andres Bonifacio? I am positive that Director Richard Somes would measure gamely up to the challenge at hand.