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Cesar Montano in RD Alba’s ‘Biktima’: From epic to indie

Cesar Montano and Angel Aquino

Manila, Philippines – GOING INDIE – What are the most memorable Cesar Montano films?

These four titles come to mind: GMA’s “Jose Rizal” and “Muro Ami,” Star Cinema’s “Bagong Buwan,” and “Panaghoy sa Suba,” which Cesar himself produces, wrote, directed, and topbilled. The three other titles were directed by Marlon Diaz Abaya.

All four films are epic in proportions, especially “Jose Rizal.”

From epic, Cesar goes indie for the first time in his latest film, the drama- thriller “Biktima,” written, produced, and directed by RD Alba, US-based and educated filmmaker only in his 30s. Like Cesar, RD traces his roots to Bohol, where his mother, Dr. Dise Alba, owns a hospital in Tagbilaran.

TRACK CREDITS – Before “Biktima,” RD Alba directed two other films: “Sabangga: GI Thai Girl” and “Mourning Eye,” shown in 2000 at the Vancouver filmfest and LA Gay and Lesbian filmfest, respectively. He also directed several shows for ABS-CBN Regional Network (Visayas-Mindanao) and its US-Canada channel.

Born in Cebu City on Sept. 4, 1978, RD has always been interested in the arts. He left for the US at age 11 and finished high school at Upper Darby in Philadelphia and Bachelor of Arts major in Drama at Jacksonville State University.

He took his master’s in fine arts and film directing at the Los Angeles Film School, where he was mentored by Hollywood directors.

Although an indie, “Biktima” has a relatively big budget, in the vicinity of P10 million, not counting Cesar’s fee, which he invested in the project. RD hopes to enter “Biktima” in foreign filmfests, starting with Sundance.

PRODUCTION NOTES – From the PR, these production notes on “Biktima” handed out during the presscon, held at Bellisimo, located along Scout Rallos Extension, Kamuning side, QC.

What happens when two of Philippine cinema’s most reliable performers Cesar Montano and Angel Aquino combine forces with a young and passionate director, RD Alba? Expect sparks to fly.

This is exactly what happen in the dramatic thriller “Biktima” which hits theaters on Sept. 19. Shot entirely in the picturesque yet perilous Bohol – which also happens to be the male lead’s hometown, “Biktima” zeroes in on the travails of a female reporter (Angel Aquino) who wants to make something else outside of her being a wife and mother. As a news journalist for a local TV channel, Alice de la Cruz (Angel’s character) sets off on a dangerous trek to the island of Kamandao in Bohol against her husband Mark’s (Cesar Montano) warning.

In the midst of an attack by insurgents, Alice is believed to have died in the ambush with her fellow reporters. Devastated and left to care for their son, Alice’s husband Mark returns to the former’s best friend Sandra (Mercedes Cabral) for solace and love.

Things to have gone back to normal for Mark and Sandra until Alice is found alive after six months, her memory almost totally erased. Husband and wife get back to gether but then the missing pieces of what happened in the months that she disappered fall into place and this triggers psychological scars to unravel and gradually erupt into an explosive crescendo.

MULTIPLE ADMIRATION – Cesar, who has worked earlier with “Biktima’s” director RD Alba in the much-awarded “Panaghoy sa Suba” (2004) which the actor himself headlines and helmed (RD was creas associate producer of “Panaghoy”), welcomes the chance to work with this old friend.

“He knows what he is doing. He is sure about his vision for the movie and masarap siyang katrabaho,” says Cesar of direk RD.

“Biktima” is distributed by Star Cinema.

Direk RD is just as honored to be working with such as intense and committed performer as Cesar who waived his talent fee for “Biktima.”

“Cesar has always been a generous actor, a creative worker, a true-blue artist,” says RD who is just as awed by his lead actress Angel. “She is amazing in the movie. She has a difficult part and she really gave it her all.”

In an age when psychological thrillers come few and far in between, “Biktima” is one film event that should not be missed. Also lending gravitas to the story of love and marriage at a time of rebellion are Cesar’s real-life wife Sunshine Cruz, actor-director Ricky Davao, and British-born actor Paul Smith.

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