AJ Raval Shares Her Thoughts On Changing The Cinema Landscape Via Vivamax’s ‘Sitio Diablo,’ Direk Roman Perez Takes Pride In His Film ‘Taya’

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Sitio Diablo premiered on Vivamax on August 26.

On August 11, the cast of the upcoming Vivamax movie, Sitio Diablo, spoke to members of the press to talk about and promote their film, which is film director, Roman Perez Jr’s 7th full-length feature to be released on the streaming platform. Perez noted that he has practically come full circle with Sitio Diablo becoming a way for him to return to his urban roots. It can be recalled that the Adan (2019) director, debuted on Vivamax via the urban sexy thriller, Taya, which also starred AJ Raval, alongside other Vivamax staples Sean de Guzman and Jela Cuenca.

Talking about Sitio Diablo, and how it signals a shift in the overall cinema landscape, Perez shared that the film has been in the works ever before the pandemic struck. He admitted that it was originally intended to join festivals.

It’s a dream project for us, for me lalo na… as saka ‘yung writer ko na si Enrique Villasis. Ang core nito, pang-festival ‘yung project. Gusto natin isali sa mga festival like Cinemalaya, Q Cinema, Cine Filipino, pre-pandemic pa. Ang idea nito ay makabuo ng, non-actors, lahat rappers, at kukuha lang kami ng isa o dalawang artista para patakbuhin ang pelikula.

“(It’s a dream project for us, especially for me, and for our writer, Enrique Villasis. The core of this film is… it’s intended to join festivals. We wanted to submit it to Cinemalaya, Q Cinema, and Cine Filipino, before the pandemic. The idea was to form a group of non-actors, all of whom rappers, and we only tap one or two actors to get the film going),” he said.

The director shared how his affinity for urban and hip-hop pop culture influenced his decision to do the film.

“Ang gagamitin namin ay ang urban culture, ‘yung urban pop culture, at lalo na ‘yung underground…’yung tinatawag nilang ‘kalye hip-hop’.First time ito sa Philippine cinema na makakita ng mga sikat na rappers na umaarte.

“(We would be using urban culture, urban pop culture that is…especially underground or what we call ‘kalye-hiphop’. This marks the first time in local cinema, that an ensemble of popular rappers are acting in a fiilm),” he added.

Perez noted that while the film failed to make it to the festivals he envisioned joining, he is thankful that the project found its way to Vivamax.

“Dream come true itong Sitio Diablo na nagreenlight ito. Hindi kami nakapsok sa festivals pero ibang platform naman nakapasok—sa no.1 streaming platform sa Pilipinas.

“(Sitio Diablo is a dream come true for me. We may have failed to penetrate movie festivals, but we made it to Vivamax—the number one streaming platform in the Philippines).” 

AJ Raval, who is one of the leading actors in the film, shared how she found ease in working alongside the non-actors who are part of her film. 

“Sobrang happy po ako sa project na ito kasi unang una, hip hop…nandito po ‘yung mga hiphop (artists). Sobrang gaan po ng loob ko sa mga rappers at sa mga hip-hop. Nature na po sa akin ‘yun since’yung kuya ko rin po nagrarap. Syaka syempre po kay Direk Roman—wala po akong tatanggihan kay Direk Roman.

“(I am very happy with this project, especially since it is about hip-hop. It was easy for me to work with our rappers and hip-hop artists. That is actually in my nature since my older brother also does rap. Of course, I will never say no to Direk Roman),” she told the press.

Perez, meanwhile, shared how proud he has been seeing the actors who practically started and had some artistic growth through acting in his films, take off with their careers. 

Syempre napaka proud a ko. Ako para akong tatay na naging proud sa mga anak ‘no.Merong naging AJ Raval, merong naging Sean de Guzman, Pio Balbuena, at mayroong naging Jela Cuenca…syempre may Angeli Khang dahil sa Taya.

“(Of cours, it makes me proud. I feel like am their actual father who is truly proud of their achievements. There is AJ Raval, Sean de Guzman, Pio Balbuena, and we have Jela Cuenca, and of couse…Angeli Khang).’ 

Raval lauds her director’s ability to establish connections among her actors. She said, she is happy for creating good connections with her co-actors.

“Masaya po ako. Iba po yung connections namin pagka-direk Roman. Mga artista, yan sina Pio. Iba po talaga ‘yung connections namin.Si Direk Roman parang barkada namin, pero at the same time nandon pa rin po yung respect namuin kay Direk Roman.

“(I am really happy. The connections are really on another level, with Direk Roman directing the project. The actors make good connections because Direk Roman is just like among us, although we don’t allow that to be the cause of disrespect),” she noted.

Sitio Diablo also stars Kapamilya actor, Kiko Estrada, as one of the lead actors. Rappers and hip-hop artists, Pio Balbuena, Cean Jr. Ace Raval, Azi Acosta, and BJ Castillano a.k.a. Because are part of the cast with seasoned actors Joko Diaz, and Ruby Ruiz.

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