Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Cinemalaya’s Children of the River continues Spears Films advocacy of producing movies for and about the youth

In today’s cinema landscape of romantic comedies, horror flicks and dramatic pictures, one genre seems to have been overlooked: children’s films. Fewer and fewer movies seem to be made for the education, development and entertainment of kids.

Spears Films, the production arm of Spears Activation and PR, puts children’s films in the spotlight with Children of the River, one of full-length features in competition at the 15th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival. This year’s edition of the prestigious Filipino independent filmfest runs from August 2 to 13 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines; and in the following cinemaas: Glorietta, Greenbelt, Trinoma, Market Market, UP Town Center in Metro Manila; Abreeza in Davao, and in Evia cinemas in Pampanga, Naga and Iloilo.

Written and directed by Maricel Cariaga (filmmaker behind the TOFARM film Pitong Kabang Palay, and the Sinag Maynila 2017 Best Documentary Journeyman Finds Home: The Simone Rota Story), the coming-of-age Children of the River tells the story of young Elias whose life with his three best friends becomes more exciting when a certain Ted vacations in their provincial town. Their eagerness then turns into dread when they receive news about their fathers who are soldiers stationed in Mindanao.

Cinemalaya 2017 Best Actor Noel Comia, Jr., who plays Elias, headlines the cast composed of GMA heartthrob Juancho Trivino as Ted, Kapuso actress Rich Asuncion as Elias’ mom, Elvy, with Ricky Oriarte, Dave Justine Francis, Junyka Santarin and JR Custodio. Award-winning actor Jay Manalo plays a very special role.

Maricel reveals that the idea for Children of the River came about because of the Marawi siege in 2017. She explains, “But instead of writing about soldiers and their battles, I went ahead and wrote about the stories of their families. When your family member is fighting in a war and you know that any time, you may get a call that something has happened to your loved one, how do you live your life? How can you manage to live everyday knowing your loved one may die any time?... So, Children of the River is a story of four friends trying to live a normal life while battling their own demons and while their fathers are fighting in a pointless war.”

Children of the River is the fifth children’s film that Spears Films’ executive producer Albert Almendralejo has produced. His advocacy began in 2009 with Bakal Boys(Children Metal Drivers), a heart-tugging docu-drama about kids who scavenge for scraps. Bakal Boys reaped acclaim in various local and international filmfests; it also won the NETPAC Prize at the 2009 Cinemalaya.

Spears Films would make three more after that: the documentary on young Filipino footballers who trained in the U.K., entitled Little Azkals; the thriller on human trafficking through teenage labor entitled Tumbang Preso; and the documentary on Azkals football player Simone Rota’s search for his biological mother entitledJourneyman Finds Home.

“These are films about young people and how to improve their well being,” remarks Albert. While he also desires to produce different types of films (Spears Films is one of the producers of another Cinemalaya film, the sexy romance Malamaya,), Albert will always strive to create material for and about children.

Children of the River is a co-production of Spears Films with GMA Films and Luna Studios. For updates, visit Children of the River – Cinemalaya page and Spears Activation & PR page on Facebook. For screening schedules, visit cinemalaya.org.

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