Romeo at Juliet


First time producer and writer Jean Altavas (seated) with the cast from left to right: Lemuel Pelayo, Alessandra de Rossi, Victor Basa and introducing Max Eigenmann.

Nah. This is not what you think it is.

The title of a new independent film, “Romeo At Juliet,” immediately recalls to mind William Shakespeare’s well-read work. The irony is that, the makers of this local movie actually based their project directly on an unpublished Filipino book written in 2002.

The book entitled “Kakaibang Romeo At Juliet” tells a tragic love story that essentially presents a new take on the famous characters, hence it was called that way. It is written by first-time film producer Jean Altavas but for some reason didn’t see publication.

The author, with support from some people in the biz, felt the story deserves to be released. Thus, it ended into a movie starring Victor Basa and Alessandra De Rossi in lead roles who are not named Romeo and Juliet, but as Joseph and Angel, respectively. Independent filmmaker Adolfo Alix Jr. directed it under Kisapmata Productions.

In a presscon held at Max’s Roces, Q.C. to promote her first film venture, Altavas told the Manila Bulletin that her story touches on the critical issue of parenting and abuse of women and children. Though the movie is the same as most indies which tackle the dark side of life, she insisted that this one is different because the characters are not poor and underprivileged, as one might expect in most non-mainstream films.

“Most of the characters here are well-off. We want to imply that troubles happen to people regardless of status,” said the one-time showbiz act who many years ago worked with big screen biggies Dolphy and Joseph Estrada.

Altavas also acted for “Romeo at Juliet,” playing the role of Malueca, the wicked grandmother of Joseph whose mom Lourdes (Bing Pimentel) is in turn overprotective. Joseph’s girlfriend Angel has her own traumatic childhood inflicted by her father Kap played by Jay Manalo.

With its Freudian thought of ‘Show me your parents and I’ll tell why you’re a mess’ put into play, the plot-driven “Romeo At Juliet” gathers an interesting mix of supporting stars headed by Rosanna Roces and Daria Ramirez. It also introduces Max Eigenmann and Lemuel Pelayo.

This is the writer/producer Jean Altavas’ prologue in the unpublished book.

ON BEING PARENTS

It is not an easy task to be a parent. Below are listed some of the reasons that motivate couples to have children.

“So there’s someone to care for you in your old age.” is the most common reason.

“To get it over and done with.”

“The more the merrier.”

“So there is someone to love me.”

“To continue the lineage.”

“God’s gift.”

Funny. But the truth of the matter is, none of the reasons make up for responsible parenthood. It must be understood that one has to be PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY, FINANCIALLY and SPIRITUALLY ready to be a parent.

When we hear violent incidents or abusive treatments done to children by their parents or other adults, the most asked question is “What kind of parents are they?” or “What kind of parents did they have?” What was Hitler’s mother like? Mother Theresa’s? What drove them to be like that?

It is so easy to put the blame on strict parenthood. Especially my generation. But that was then. For lack of better way of doing it, that was how we were brought up.

We are more aware today. We have a better understanding of how to be responsible parents.

Now we know that our actions and our words leave a mark in the hearts and minds of our children.

ROMEO AT JULIET opens in selected theaters nationwide next Wednesday, March 24, 2010.

Well if it’s from Alix, then it must be good! By the way, here are our photos during the Bangkok International Film Festival ’08…

Talaga daw bang intrigahin si Direk Adolf sa unang pagkikita...hehehe!

Group photo after watching Adolf's entry, "Tambolista" (Drumbeat). From left to right: 2 Pinoy expats in Thailand, Me, 2-time Palanca Awardee and good friend Dominic Manrique, "Jay" director Francis Xavier Pasion and Adolf Alix Jr.

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