By Ricky Calderon

With his doctor’s permission, the multi-awarded director is back with two contrasting films; yet, he feels lucky because he’s working with two magnificent and talented actors.

 

After he was hospitalized and recovered from a cerebellum attack, a few months ago, award-winning director, Joel Lamangan, is happily back into the groove. He has just finished two movies, Sekyu (starring Allen Dizon), and Felix Manalo (featuring Dennis Trillo). This is to dispel the rumor that he would be retiring after he got sick.

Immediately after his doctor gave him a clean bill of health, he started working on Sekyu which is produced by BG Productions International, and resumed filming the Felix Manalo bioflick, which is due for release next month.

But Direk Joel knows that he can’t stress himself with work, so he is doing it at his own pace. He even declined to do a teleserye because it would demand so much of his time.

“When I reported for work for Sekyu, I felt as if I was starting all over again,” said the multi-awarded filmmaker,  who made his directorial debut via the Nanette Medved starrer Darna in 1991. He was also the man behind the critically-acclaimed films like Bakit May Kahapon Pa?, Flor Contemplacion Story and Hustisya.

Direk Joel Lamangan
Direk Joel Lamangan

We marveled at how Direk Joel was able to shoot two films simultaneously (Sekyu and Felix Manalo). He said he did his best to focus on two different projects which are distinct from each other.

Sekyu is a small, quiet film about an ordinary but honest man; a security guard who wants to live a comfortable life but there are things that go beyond his control,” related Direk Joel. He added that the story idea of the film came from him, and then he collaborated with Ricky Lee, who wrote the script.

In contrast, Felix Manalo is a big-budgeted period movie that spans many decades. It tells the story of the man behind Iglesia ni Cristo.

“It is a challenge for me to do this film because I am not a member of INC, but I am thankful that they gave me the chance to direct the movie,” he said.

Direk Joel added that he enjoyed doing the film bio of a man who was ostracized and ridiculed because of his faith, but he kept on and INC has grown so big that its members can be found in six continents.

“No one wanted to believe in him,” he stated. “He was ostracized, yet he persevered. The movie shows Felix Manalo’s struggles, his advocacy and it will also reveal the mystery of his faith.”

With the recent issues involving INC members, does he think this will affect the movie’s chances at the box-office?

“Hindi ko alam kasi, ng mangyari iyon, tapos na ang movie. May target market na sila, nasa six continents. It is a story that has to be told. Mag-isa lang siya pero nagawa niya makapagbuo ng isang simbahan na lumago at lumaki ang members all over the world,” he replied.

With regards to Sekyu, Direk Joel said he wanted to do a story about a simple man. “It is my story and concept then I talked to Ricky (Lee) about it and we expanded the story. I want something about a simple man and his dreams. He has a wife who doesn’t know what she wants. Di ba may mga babaeng ganun na mayroon silang gusto pero hindi ma-express? In the story, Allen and Sunshine play husband and wife,” he explained.

“The story started on the idea that a security guard (Allen) found a purse with $10,000 but decided to return it to the owner. Lahat ng tao nagalit sa kanya. Ang tanga raw niya. Pera na naging bato pa. How did he handle the situation? Why did he return it? Pero bakit ganoon ang reaction ng tao? Instead of praising for what he did, he was thought of as fool,” he stressed.

“Ricky (Lee) was able to weave a beautiful story. Allen is a simple man yet he is principled. He believes one should be honest. But when he returned the money, his father and his wife got mad at him. Until his wife left him and then something tragic happened. He joined an akyat-bahay gang but he was caught and he landed in jail.  Parang kung ano ang tama, yun ang , at kung ano ang mali, yun ang tama. Parang baliktad ang tingin ng tao sa buhay. Very ironic. Siya ay nakilala na honest tapos his life ended tragically,” he said.

Aside from these two projects, Direk Joel is slated to do a movie with Jackie Woo titled Tomadachi, and another project for BG Productions titled Tres Marias, to be written by Raquel Villavicencio.

 

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