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Ate Vi wows indie film crowd, impresses jury

IsahRed-150x81Vilma Santos, also governor of Batangas province, proves she’s not just meant for mainstream movie but also for the growing independent movie crowd. Starring in Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra, entry to the recently concluded Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, Santos impressed the jury for her role as a bit player (extra, hence the title) in the festival’s Directors Showcase and awarded her Best Performance of an Actress. Co-star Ruby Ruiz was also honored with a Best Performance of a Supporting Actress. Jeturian also bagged writing honors along with Zig Dulay and Antoinette Jadaone. ABS-CBN’s Star Cinema co-produced the movie with Quantum Films, reason why it’s getting a wide release starting today. Ekstra is a touching drama-comedy film that revolves around the life of Loida Malabanan (Santos), a hardworking single mother who passionately works as bit player for television and movies. Aside from Sanotosa and Ruiz, the movie also features Tart Carlos, Cherie Gil, Pilar Pilapil, Nico Antonio, Tom Rodriguez, Marlon Rivera, Vince de Jesus, among others. Richard Yap, Marian Rivera, and Piolo Pascual appear in cameo roles. Santos says she couldn’t have chosen a better story for her role in an indie film. Out of the many offered to her, she chose Ekstra and never looked back. “I fell in love with the role and the story as soon as I read the script,” recalls Santos. In her more than half-century as an actress, the now governor of Batangas has worked with movie and TV extras, playing one of them she felt what it is like to be a bit player. “I became even more familiar with them,” she says. Cinemalaya judges in awarding the Best Performance of an Actress cited Santos “for her bold decision to deglamorize herself and take on the lowly role of a TV and movie bit player, for her moving portrayal of the unsung hero of show business, for the polish and aplomb with which she essayed the role, and for her powerful cinematic presence.” Vilma (whose commitment as governor prevented her from attending the awards night last Aug. 4) said, “I’m so happy that they appreciate my work. I am dedicating the award to all the bit players. Ekstra is actually my tribute to them. Without the extras, a film or a TV soap will never be complete.” Santos finished the shoot for Ekstra in barely two weeks, sometimes staying up until the wee hours. She didn’t mind moving from one set to another at all.
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