A new interesting digital movie, Sikil started its regular run last Wednesday, January 16, at the Indiesine Cinema 8 at the Robinsons Galeria. But as early as two months ago, the film had a special screening at the U.P. Film Theater on November 22 last year. It is the first attempt at filmmaking by the production company New Life Cinema. The film starred Will Sandejas, Ashley Silverio and Ken Escudero. Sylvia Sanchez, Ernie Garcia and Sofia Valdez appeared in cameo roles with Joy Viado as the loudmouthed kasera.
From left Ken Escudero, Ashley Silverio and Will Sandejas
Sikil is about two boys who grew up in a provincial neighborhood. Ken Escudero as Enso or Lorenzo grew up with a strict father who never showed love nor interest in his son’s welfare, and a doting mother (Sylvia Sanchez). Will Sandejas is Maynard, Enso’s naughty friend who taught him how to use a slingshot and bathe naked in the river, the same place where both boys were circumcised. I just don’t understand why the boys were asked to jump into the river after the ritual. I have done it before with my high school students back in my home town and immediately after the cut, chewed guava leaves or a kind of medicinal grass is applied and kept in place with a clean piece of cloth to be washed and replaced the following morning. Melang (Ashley Silverio) is a neighborhood friend of the boys and they remained playmates until they grow up.
Anita Linda is the lola, but I was confused whose lola was she. There were scenes where she appears as Enso’s lola, but in another scene, she was with Wil Sandejas (Maynard) as his lola too where Lola gave him the hat she previously gave to Enso. A little confusion.
Maynard left for Manila to find his fortune. There was no scene that showed the family of Maynard, but in Manila he visited a younger sister in the hospital taken care of by another younger sister. They must be his family. Back in the province, Enso wanted to try looking for his fortune in the city too. When Maynard left for Manila, he was already a young man ready to face the odds of life. Enso’s travel to the city irked his father so much calling him bakla as he earlier knew his son was gay. There was almost a fight between the father and the son. Enso lashed at his father to give vent to his anger. The stunned father could not utter a word.
To earn money for the hospital bills, Maynard sidelined as a hunk for hire in some movie houses until he met a guy who gave him a blow job and offered a recommendation to a brothel because of his unusual endowment assuring him ready acceptance in the club. True to the man’s word, Maynard was immediately accepted, then oriented in the nature of their work. Anything could happen and money was easy since the rich clientèle’s paid in advance for everything, including sex.
Choreograph shows were part of the work of the new recruit, mostly stripping in front of rich paying customers. Meanwhile, Enso in Manila began to earn his keep by appearing in pornographic movies where he had a sex scene with Sofia Valdez, the only scene she had in the movie. Ernie Garcia was shown a few times in the brothel but both Sofia and Ernie never said a word.
Sylvia as the battered wife served her husband like she is a slave, helping him undress from work, making coffee for him and offering him his slipper like she is a geisha until she lost all her temper and threatened to kill her man with a broken bottle.
There were many flashbacks which was a little disturbing in the middle of an interesting scene. Flashbacks during their childhood back in the province perhaps to show the unusual closeness of the young boys. I asked the director about the flashbacks after the film and he said when a person is alone and in distress, one cannot help but remember the past, which in a way is true although in real life we may not have as many flashbacks as there was in the movie.
In one of the shows where Maynard would perform as a cowboy, Enso was the guest performer. They came face to face with each other in front of a wide mirror. The surprise meeting in that candid private show did not give them goose bumps about the work they are in. No questions asked, no apologies. Everything was normal except for the surprise of meeting each other in such a situation. In the middle of the film, we would discover that Maynard and Melang were married and had a daughter but Melang choose to abandon them perhaps to give reasons for Ashley’s few scenes.
Enso lived comfortably in a well furnished apartment that he invited Maynard and his daughter to live with him. The younger sister refused to live with Enso and from there, we never saw the girl again. Anita Linda got lost somewhere too. No traces of whatever happened to them.
The whole movie, as the director explained before the actual viewing, is simple and truthful. I was able to follow the whole film quite smoothly and clear except for the over use of flashbacks which to me was a little disturbing. The whole movie was relaxing even if it tackled a sensitive topic. The nude scenes were taken with utmost care and I consider the whole as not offensive. Back in Europe, I was exposed to so many porno films that it took no effect any more.
The movie was well done, cinematography was not disturbing and the performances of the actors were good, considering that majority of the performers were new except for Sylvia Sanchez, Ernie Garcia and Sofia Valdez. I was not familiar with most of the actors.
In my short interview with the major actors, Wil Sandejas was familiar because he was with the film Troika directed by Emman Esturco shown a few months back. I remember Wil Sandejas as one of the miners in that movie. Wil offered the information that Sikil was filmed way ahead of Troika but for some reasons was delayed in its release. It must be a blessing for Wil because he said he had a more challenging role in Sikil. Wil said he attended a workshop with PETA. He added that acting was a childhood dream and he is determined to make a name in the celluloid field. Wil is now 24 but he doesn’t look his age. After Sikil, Wil’s next film is Kumpisal. I can see a sensitive actor in Wil but it is a must that he do something to improve his craft. His eyes may turn out to be one of his important assets as an actor if he learns how to use them. Wil has finished a course in Culinary Arts. Wil Sandejas is a Bicolano on his mother side.
Ken Escudero (not his real name) is from Allaga, Nueva Ecija and is now residing in Bacoor, Cavite. Sikil is his first movie after winning a local male pageant representing the country in the Mr. International 2006 held in Singapore where he was won as Mr. Photogenic, the special award often given to Pilipinos in international competition both for the female and male candidates. Ken is 21 and finished his BSMT course the year before and hope to explore the ocean and the whole world as a seaman, if showbiz will not be kind to him. Ken can be molded into dramatic roles if handled properly. I saw in him the promise of a sensitive actor if given challenging roles in the drama department. His sensitive portrayal as a closet gay in Sikil really showeds promise for future films.
Ashley Silverio as the lead actress in the movie was not present during the special screening of the movie for an interview.
Sikil is an interesting movie that film buffs will enjoy watching. Although there were nude scenes, they were not offensive.The love scene between Wil Sandejas and Ken Escudero was done in good taste. In the scene at the pub, a man from the pool walked towards the camera in his glorious nakedness showing his private parts was not shocking, after all, he was in a place where nudity is the name of the game. The film will be viewed by the MTRCB for the second time and let’s find out if they will cut that portion.
Kudos to director Rolando Bertumin in his first try at film making. He said he completed the film in eight days. His staff included scriptwriter Olive Villanosa, set designer Tony Chong and line producer Artemio Baron III. After it’s review by the MTRCB, the movie will soon be shown locally with international release thereafter. We hope a new movie will soon be produced by New Life Cinema. Good luck and may you have reasons to produce more films.
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