Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation From Lilia Cuntapay (2011, Antoinette Jadaone)

Four women directors upstaged their male counterparts at the Cinema One Originals Festival 2011. Sari Lluch Dalena won the best director award for her brilliant Martial Law film Ka Oryang. Ivy Baldoza’s sensuous and sultry film Mga Anino sa Tanghaling Tapat nabbed the jury prize. Shireen Seno’s ambitious film Big Boy got rave reviews from prominent film bloggers. However, those three films have their fair share of detractors.

The hilarious mockumentary Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay (SDOSFLC) is the runaway popular and critical hit of the fest. The fourth female filmmaker, Antoinette Jadaone, deservedly won the best screenplay award. With ample support from Raymond Lee and Joyce Bernal, the charming filmmaker/scriptwriter crafted an engaging, incisive, and rollicking look at the travails of a bit-player in a cult horror movie series.

Ghoulish looking Lilia Cuntapay (played by Lilia Cuntapay) has been in the movie industry for thirty years. She endured countless hours waiting for her turn during shoots. She has disrobed for the camera in the film Babae sa Breakwater. All those dedication and commitment have finally paid off as the septuagenarian bit player nabs an acting nomination from AFTAP. The film shows how Cuntapay responds to this bit of great news. She prepares a speech in case she wins the best supporting actress award.

The big night arrives and the camera captures a nervous Cuntapay resplendent in a silver dress. Angel Aquino then reads out the winner of the best actress award… Lilia Cuntapay!

Wait a minute… Silver dress? Angel Aquino? Best actress? In a scene that could have been made specifically for this movie, Cuntapay really did win an acting award, albeit shared with Maricar Reyes. She took a deep breath and acknowledged that she didn’t expect to win the Best Actress award at the Cinema One Originals Festival 2011. Proof of that is she didn’t prepare a speech. As a result, she had a mental block and failed to thank directors Peque Gallaga, Lore Reyes, and Jadaone. The combination of spotlights, cameras, and the presence of Nora Aunor might have unnerved her during her speech, which is not unlike those fictitious speeches in the movie. Initially, I thought the movie’s speech segments were weak as they show Cuntapay’s limited acting ability. But, having seen the acceptance speech of Cuntapay, I realized that she is not acting in those speech segments. That is the true Cuntapay we are seeing. If she seems uneasy and uncomfortable it is because she just doesn’t buy the idea that she’ll be nominated for an acting award much less wins an award. Savor the speech segments for a glimpse of the true Lilia Cuntapay.

Jadaone’s film is a stunning meta-movie mind-fuck. It blurs the line between fiction and reality. All throughout the movie, one is left wondering what the truth is. Is Myra a real relative of Cuntapay? The actress who portrayed Myra won the best supporting actress award and acknowledged Cuntapay as her aunt in her speech, which shows her good sense of humor. Again, she is what she seems to play in the movie. I loved the part in which she helps Cuntapay practice her lines. Their rapport seems to suggest some blood affinity. Is that the place Cuntapay really lives in? Only the cast and crew know. How I wish I could attend a post-screening forum someday so I could unravel amazing details about the film.

I liked this film better than the Cinemalaya blockbuster film Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank (ABSST) for one major reason. ABSST seems to spring out of envy. That film comes across as being made to spite successful filmmakers such as Pepe Diokno and Jim Libiran. On the other hand, SDOSFLC was made out of deep love for an underdog, a film underdog at that. I love stories of ordinary people making it big. And with this film, a bit player morphs into an award-winning actress. A few more sold-out screenings and the name Lilia Cuntapay will be on most moviegoers’ lips.


  1. Hi! There will be a Q&A after the screening at UP Cine Adarna on Dec 3, 2011 7:30 PM, you might want to come :)

  2. Flickerfree, thanks for the heads-up!