Watching Vilma Santos portray Loida Malabanan in Ekstra touched my heart and almost brought tears to my eyes. Ektra is an independent film directed by Jeffrey Jeturian in the Philippine Cinemalaya Festival that garnered 6 awards and is now up for more international awards. It’s been a while since I last watched a Filipino movie that had this much significance to life. Watching films like this made by my fellow countrymen gives me hope and confidence in the talent that we have. If only more opportunities come our way, we could really make it big.
To give a gist about Ekstra, it’s about the life of Loida Malabanan, an “extra” or bit player who portrays being part of the “crowd” in teleseryes or soap operas. The film depicts the struggle of these talents where they are significant to scenes as they bring life to the set and yet they are treated with little respect. They wait for so long to get the break that they’ve always dreamt of but when they are given that one opportunity, they choke or realize that what they have is still not enough despite the hard work and perseverance that they show.
I love many things about the movie. First, it tackles so many relevant life lessons that show what reality is. Second, I love how the script and acting complement each other, though short and concise some lines may be, the acting just captures the essence of each scene. Third, I love how I can relate to the movie even if I’ve never been in that type of industry. Just to add, I also love how I finally learned more about the people behind this kind of industry and some struggles that I never realized. These types of movies makes me respect these kinds of people more.
Realities of Life. Most of us Filipinos are really struggling to survive each day. No matter how good of a person we are, no matter how hard we try, sometimes, we just keep going back to where we started, back to zero. There are lucky people out there who don’t need to exert much to succeed but most people work so hard and are satisfied with the mini successes that they achieve. That’s really how life is, not that I can ever give justice to the struggles of people. I wish more movies depicted realities of life so we learn to at least give each other the respect that we deserve. If we cannot help each other by kind, at least respect for the dignity can go a long way.
I loved how Vilma Santos was able to portray the life of a “talent” who does every thing in her power to do the best in the roles she is given even if she gets hurt. In Filipino terms, this is what they expressed as, “Buwis Buhay,” where they put their life to risk just to do what they have to do. I was touched in the scenes where she was burnt by a cigarette because the actress got carried away in her role. I also felt for the talent who had to wear prosthetic for hours without knowing when her filming time will come. It also touched me when she had to go through wearing a sack in her head just to play as hostage in the scene.
The Defining Moment. Until when can we last doing what we love that makes us struggle? There are those who don’t risk it and do what is practical, always wondering what their life could have been if they followed their dreams. There are also some who passionately do what they love but at the same time, it is what causes their major struggles in life. Until when can we continue doing this to ourselves? There is the dilemma of whether we should be following our passions because it is what gives meaning in our life but it is also what hurts us most. We try so hard to find the midpoint of our passion and happiness but not all of us are lucky in doing so.
It truly moved me when Loida was given the break that she has dreamt of but at the moment she was expected to deliver, she just failed. It moved me to tears when the “director” was talking to her about the impact she was bringing to their filming because she was treated so lowly to think she was doing her best for days.
I also felt for Loida when her friends were watching the scene which she was supposed to be part of and they asked her why she wasn’t there. Vilma Santos portrayed the scene just right where she showed her struggle and pain in that awkward time. It was a defining moment of her character.
Ms. Santos’s advice to aspiring actors who are currently working as extras? “Hard work and determination. Don’t give up or lose hope. Never stop dreaming.” – bworldonline.com
This is a much watch! I’m definitely noting all the other Filipino indie films!
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