Adolfo Alix, Jr.'s "Kalayaan" - Cinemalaya 2012

Stars: Thai actor Ananda Everingham,Japanese actress Kiki Sugino, Zanjoe Marudo, Luis Alandy  
Director: Adolfo Alix Jr.

Writer-director Adolfo Alix Jr. was inspired to do the film Kalayaan when he chanced upon an article discussing how different countries are claiming the Spratly islands. He also read about the military installations put up by the Philippines in the islands being claimed by other countries such as China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

He tapped Thai actor Ananda Everingham to play the lead role of a soldier named Julian Macaraeg. Ananda, who is best known for the 2004 horror film Shutter, brings life to a man who must copewith loneliness as he is stationed in the remote island. The actor shot the film in Palawan for 10 days.

Due to time constraints and security reasons, Direk Adolf decided to shoot in mainland Palawan instead of shooting in the Spratlys. “We had to re-create the installation based on the photographs that we gathered. We found similar landscapes in Cowrie and Luli island so we built our set there.”

Soldiers were stationed in the Spratlys for three months but the military shortened the duty to one month. Based on Direk Adolf’s research, this is reportedly because most of the soldiers suffered anxiety and low morale.

“[The soldiers] have transistor radios, TV and DVD players. They use two-way radios in order to communicate with their main base.”

Despite these forms of communication, there are soldiers who have difficulties dealing with the long period of isolation. In fact, Direk Adolf revealed: “In most of my interviews, the soldiers often mention their own mermaid stories.”

Japanese actress Kiki Sugino plays the mermaid in one of the crucial scenes of the movie. Direk Adolf revealed that they had to bring their own generator in the mangroves where they shot this scene.

Zanjoe Marudo plays Lucio, the bratty and loudmouthed soldier who has been assigned in the Spratly a couple of times. Luis Alandy portrays Eric, a newly assigned soldier in the island.

Direk Adolf says that his movie aims to focus on the real victims of this situation: “the Filipino soldier who doesn’t even know what their real purpose is in guarding those islands.”

This film is one of the 5 finalists at the 2012 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival and Competition's Director's Showcase Category to be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines with showing at Greenbelt 3 and Trinoma from July 20 to 29, 2012.

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