Friday, March 20, 2009

Ituloy ang pakikibaka ni Sister Stella L

It’s been 25 years – but we’re still fighting the same issues, “Vilma Santos says. She has long set asides Sister Stella’s habit and donned a Governor’s classy suit in real life, but even here in Batangas City Hall’s imposing conference room. Ate Vi is all passion for the film. “I never fully appreciated Sister Stella L until I became a public servant; I was just an actress reciting lines back then, “She gamely acknowledges that the film was a box office flop during its run in1984. “It was shown alongside Sharon Cuneta’s Bukas Luluhod Ang Mga Tala – pinaluhod talaga kami!” she recalls, laughing.

For today’s audience, Sister Stella L. may seem like a mere echo of a film, perhaps a bit more recognizable to those whose parents or grandparents are diehard Vilmanians. In Philippine cinema, however, it is a rare gem. Directed by Mike De Leon from the story of Pete Lacaba and Jose Almujuella, this simple, straightforward yet powerful film may seem like a post-70 leftist work at the outset, but is ultimately about humanity.

It is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary at the UP Cine Adarna with a forum, exhibit and screening in an event dubbed Sister Stella @25: Tuloy ang Pakikibaka. The event, organized by the UP Film Institute (UPFI), Vilma Santos Solid International, Inc. (VSSI) and the the Film 280 class of Professor Eduardo J. Piano, features the original cast and crew, of the film, led by Governor Vilma Santos, to guide the discussion of film production and content. Aside from the presence of renowned artists and filmmakers in the industry, there will also be surprise number related to the film. This is a historic venue for creative exchange between the members of the Philippine industry and its audiences, providing film enthusiasts with an inside look at the making of Sister Stella L., and facilitating critical discourse on the relevance of the film in Philippine cinema and society.

With stunning performances from Vilma Santos (Sister Stella L.) Laurice Guillen (Sister Stella B.), and the late Jay Ilagan (Nick Fajardo), the film raped awards at the 1984 FAMAS Awards and Gawad Urian Awards, including Best Actress, Best Direction and Best Picture. Such a feat contrast its performance at the box office, proving that though it was not popular with audiences, it has excellent material and performances.

The story follow the journey of Sister Stella L. from a simple nun to a human rights advocate. At first, we see her as a member of a congregation, performing her duties and taking care of Gigi (Gina Alajar), an unwed mother. When she is thrown into a world harsher and stranger than her own small one, she learns that serving others is a duty beyond the confines of the convent. In doing her part to support a labor union’s strike, her roles as a nun, a Christian and a woman come full circle.

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