Vilma Santos

The longest-reigning Queen of Philippine Cinema, also widely known as the Star for All Seasons and the QueenStar, Vilma Santos celebrates her golden anniversary in showbiz. She has starred in more than 200 films and has given the public some of the most memorable performances in Philippine motion picture history. An icon of film and popular culture, her magnetic screen presence has captured the hearts and minds of generations of Filipinos. Her enduring charisma and popularity have made her filmdom's most durable female superstar. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Ekstra (The Bit Player): Understanding people from behind-the-scenes

by normangat, Aug. 16, 2013

IN WHAT HAVE been a down-to-earth role for the Philippines’ “Star for all season,” Vilma Santos proves us that there is no such thing as Philippine cinema without her.

Director Jeffrey Jeturian’s newest obra maestra has a well-written and intelligent script that renders the film both heart-breaking and tearfully funny. The film discusses the realities in the lives of bit players (ekstra) or the actors with unimportant roles who usually dwell in the background of great films or television series. They are the people who did not really matter to the audience; a mere decoration parallel to the main actors and actresses.

Vilma Santos was awarded Best Actress for her role as a bit player during the 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. She received no talent fee for the said acting stint. (c)

In Ekstra, single parent Loida Malabanan (Santos) is a longtime bit player who struggles to earn money in order to finance her daughter’s education. Being hired for a television drama series’ shoot in a countryside location, Loida wakes up just after midnight to meet-up with other people who were bit players just like her. As they arrive in the location, the battle to catch the attention of the director commences as their talent fees are computed based on their involvement in the TV series. Challenged with hunger, thirst, physical injury, fatigue, humiliation and false hopes, Loida must do all her best to become big in a very small role.

Ekstra pays homage to the people who often go unnoticed in film and in television productions, although losing them is certainly something that cannot be ignored. Without them, the film or the television series may not be as successful and artistic as it should be. In addition, the film is satirical in presenting the conditions of the characters. It exposed the viewers to the near-subhuman conditions that an ekstra may experience in order to earn enough at the end of the shooting day. Ironically, the movie talks about the small people when in fact, they are the main characters of the story. It is a wonder how realistic and convincing the Jeturian-directed film is.

Vilma Santos shines unfailingly as she gives flawless laughter-and-tears performance while co-stars like Cherrie Gil, Ruby Ruiz, Tart Carlo, Vincent de Jesus and Marlon Rivera show astonishing display of artistry, humor and emotion.

However, the downside of this film is the conclusion, which may not be as grand as one may expect. But the whole plot is interesting enough to satiate one’s hunger for creativity. Hey, you wouldn’t see Vilma Santos everyday clad in the attires of a sugarcane farmer or a housemaid or a tortured double.

In the end, the film teaches us that a role, infinitesimal as it may sound, is as important as the main actors themselves. It’s definitely a big catch for director Jeffrey Jeturian.

Rating: 4.75/5

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