TOKYO—Filipino actress Shaina Magdayao was a red-carpet darling at the opening of the Tokyo International Film Festival on Thursday, making numerous stops to accommodate requests for photos and interviews from international press.
Magdayao, 28, is representing the Lav Diaz rock opera “Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil),” part of the festival’s Crosscut Asia section featuring music-infused Southeast Asian films.
The homegrown ABS-CBN star plays the lead role of Lorena, opposite Piolo Pascual’s Hugo, in the monochrome musical about forced disappearances during the time of Martial Law.
Magdayao was a radiant sight as she descended the steps of the packed Roppongi Hills Arena, wearing a dazzling red Michael Leyva gown. Whereas other participants completed the red carpet walk in about three minutes, Magdayao was among the stars who took noticeably longer, as she obliged members of the press to talk about “Halimaw” and strike a pose for the cameras.
Approaching this writer’s position on the red carpet sidelines, Magdayao recognized the ABS-CBN News logo — to her, a semblance of home — and beamed with pride as she enthusiastically spoke about “Halimaw’s” continued recognition overseas.
“It’s actually very surreal to be representing our country, to be part of a film festival again,” she said. “It’s an honor to be able to work with Lav Diaz. It’s an honor to represent these talented actors.”
“Napakalaking bagay na maging bahagi ng ganito kagandang proyekto. Isang proyekto na may meaning, na may mahalagang message na gustong iparating,” she explained, stopping short of mentioning the atrocities during Martial Law.
And while reaching an international audience is a welcome achievement, Magdayao said Diaz has always intended for “Halimaw” to speak to Filipinos; it’s “his love letter for the Philippines,” she said.
“Halimaw” is not the only Diaz film participating in this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival. The acclaimed director, who was unable to attend the event, is one of the directors in the omnibus film “Lakbayan” (World Focus showcase), along with now-National Artist for film Kidlat Tahimik and Brillante Mendoza, also the president of jury.
Treb Monteras II’s “Respeto,” like “Halimaw,” is being screened under the Crosscut Asia section, while Perci Intalan’s “Distance” is part of the Asian Future category, featuring emerging directors from the region.