‘Mainstream’ star Marian Rivera to star in an indie for Cinemalaya

‘Mainstream’ star Marian Rivera to star in an indie for Cinemalaya

Marian Rivera is scheduled to shoot her first indie film, and it’s a political one.

The “Kapuso primetime queen” will take on the role of a public-school teacher who witnesses electoral fraud as the Philippines transitions from manual to automated counting. How she acts on what she has seen and its consequence to her personal safety make up the gist of the film “Balota,” an official entry to the Cinemalaya Film Festival scheduled in August. 

This piece of exciting news was disclosed by the film’s writer and director, Kip Oebanda, who also wrote and directed the critically acclaimed “Liway” in the 2018 edition of Cinemalaya.

Rivera is coming in from the commercial success of “Rewind,” her film with real-life husband Dingdong Dantes, in the last Metro Manila Film Festival. She is known for her top-rating television dramas, among which are the Filipino adaptation of the Mexican telenovela “Marimar” and the historical drama “Amaya,” as well as her portrayal of the two Filipino mythological heroes Dyesebel and Darna. (A Wikipedia entry on her says she is also listed in the FHM’s Hall of Fame as “the sexiest woman” in the Philippines for the years 2008, 2013 and 2014).

Despite her being a “mainstream” star, Rivera was quick to express interest in doing the indie, according to Oebanda, He said she just had to inform her management team and check her schedule, as she is also set to do another movie for Regal Films aside from her ongoing television series, “My Guardian Alien,” for GMA.

“She got excited when I pitched the project to her,” Oebanda said. He said Rivera asked for the script and, a few days later, phoned him to say she is “very much interested.” It took a little more time before the deal was confirmed.

Marian Rivera indie film
Writer-director Kip Oebanda (foreground) with Will Ashley and Sassa Gurl. —PHOTO BY JOEL SARACHO

Oebanda said the actress expressed surprise at the lengthy process of making an indie when she was briefed on the project. “Ang dami daw palang discussion,” he said, laughing as he narrated what it took to secure Rivera’s agreement. 

The film expounds on how the various characters interact in the course of the electoral process. The director and the star spent much time talking about the story and discussing how she would play a public-school teacher living in a remote barrio.

Oebanda is optimistic that Rivera’s participation as lead actress in “Balota” will draw more film viewers. “I am hoping that more people will get to see how messed up our electoral system is. I hope our film will help extend the discussion to help us elect better leaders in the next polls,” he said.

In the indie, Rivera will be joined by GMA Sparkle talents Will Ashley and Reheel Bhyria, along with Gardo Versoza, Royce Cabrera, Sue Prado, Donna Cariaga, Nico Antonio and Mae Paner, among others. Popular TikTok personalities Sassa Gurl and Esnyr will also play important roles.

Read more: What’s the endgame for electoral fraud?

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