By Rica Arevalo
The Tale of the Lost Boys had its gala premiere last Friday, March 9, at SM North Edsa for the Sinag Maynila 2018 Film Festival.
Directed by Joselito “Jay” Altarejos, the film won Best Feature Film at the Serili Filmului Gay International Film Festival 2017 in Romania.
A Philippine-Taiwan co-production, it materialized when Altarejos attended the Taiwan International Queer Film Festival in 2015 and met producer Jay Lin. “We became fast friends since he is really into the business,” relates the 46-year-old director. “Portico Media distributes content to different cable channels in Taiwan, we decided to collaborate.”
Actor Oliver Aquino plays Alex who instantly connects with Jerry played by Ta Su, a modern Taiwanese aborigine having a hard time opening up to his father about being gay. The two embark on a road trip to find their elusive freedom.
How did he choose the two lead actors? “Oliver was handpicked by the team with the approval of the producer who saw his performance in Kasal.” confesses Jay. “Ta Su had to contend with almost a hundred hopefuls in Taiwan thru audition.” Kasal (2014) was awarded Best Film at the 10th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival in the Director’s Showcase.
Comparing the two actors, Jay remarked: “Oliver tackles his role from a moment to moment basis. He does it organically. While Ta Su came from a more disciplined school of acting, I guess it both worked for them since Oliver’s character (Alex) is a slacker who lives at the moment while Ta Su’s (Jerry) has more hang ups.”
Jay’s greatest challenge during the production was his mental health. “I just came from a mania attack. I have been recently diagnosed as having bipolar that time, and so I was under treatment,” says the former FEU Medical Technology student. “Anxiety attacks were silenced thru my meds. And I was able to perform my duties and make a cohesive film. I had to pull myself together. It was part of the process. It’s great to be able to make films at different conditions of yourself.”
The international production boasted of a creative crew composed of Filipinos, Taiwanese, and Atayal people. “I realized that despite the barriers in culture and language, we can always fall back to the film language to communicate and actualize your vision,” muses the 2010 Festival de la Luna, the Valencia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival winner for Ang Lihim ni Antonio (2008).
Why are LGBTQIA films important in Philippine cinema? “Stories need to be told because we are still at the infancy in the fight for equality. They reflect and record prevailing views, conditions and laws about the community at a particular time,”he boasted. “It records history and would be a good viewing later when we’ve advanced in our fight for the LGBTQIA rights.”
He believes in Sinag Maynila’s vision. “Sinag has a unique way of curating their films every year. I am just happy and excited. I have been stressed out and tensed in my other festivals. But this one, I’ve decided to just enjoy the festival and maybe mend relationships and make new friends.”
Sinag Maynila 2018 runs until March 15.Facebook/SinagMaynila/