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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 1, 2017

Young Director Raya Martin Has Won Awards For His Experimental Films, Now Directs His First Mainstream Movie, The Crime Thriller 'Smaller And Smaller Circles'

DIRECTOR RAYA MARTIN is a young filmmaker (only 31) who gets to direct his first full length film for commercial release in “Smaller and Smaller Circles”. Prior to this, he has made a lot of short films, some docus and feature films that are experimental and cater to a very limited art market, like “Autohystoria” (2007), “Now Showing” and “Next Attraction (2008, both about filmmaking), “Independencia” (2009), “Manila” (co-directed with Adolf Alix), and “How to Disappear Completely” (2013). He’s a great favorite in Tikoy Aguiluz’ Cinemanila International Filmfest where he won so many awards.

How is it directing his first “commercial” film? “It’s my first genre film but, as a crime thriller, it gets to ask a lot of questions about our society, our politics and corruption in high places, our relationship with authority. It also questions our faith. I hope it will make a connection with our viewers since I made it mainly with Filipino audiences in mind. The film’s highlight is connected with our traditional Simbang Gabi so Filipinos can relate with it.”

How faithful is he to the book? “We tried to be as faithful as possible as the book has a big fan base and we don’t want to disappoint the people who loved the book. But we also made some changes, especially towards the ending.”

It will be a great challenge to entice audiences to watch this dark material about a serious killer who murder innocent boys, when romcoms and comedies rule the local film industry. Their lead actors are not considered top box office draws, Nonie Buencamino and Sid Lucero as priests who become detectives, so they are taking an active campaign in selling it to various colleges and universities all over the country. “We are promoting it to educators, teachers and the regional press, so they can tell their students to watch it and, so far, it’s very well received,” says the film’s producer, Ria Limjap.

“We’ve seen in ‘Heneral Luna’ that if you have a compelling story that’s marketed to a specific target market, then the thinking members of the audience will come out and support the film especially on the very important first week so that they can endorse it by word of mouth and it won’t be pulled out of the theaters right away. We’re optimistic that we have a good film that’s fresh and smart and very different from the usual romcoms. Since the priests in the story are Jesuits, we tried to get the cooperation of Ateneo and they allowed us to shoot some scenes there. We’re told we’re just the second movie given permission to shoot there.”

It’s of interest to note that the first movie shot there was ‘Batch 81’ by Mike de Leon which starred the late Mark Gil, and now, ‘Smaller and Smaller Circles’, which stars his son, Sid Lucero as Fr. Jerome Lucero. Sid Lucero was the name of Mark’s character in ‘Batch 81’.