Dennis Marasigan sits down with us and talks about his second Cinema One Originals feature, Anatomiya Ng Korupsyon, starring Sid Lucero and Maricar Reyes.
The full interview after the jump!
Having put in time directing for both, Dennis Marasigan is no stranger to theater and to film, and even less of a stranger to the commingling of both disciplines. His first film, and for the first wave of Cinema One Originals at that , Sa North Diversion Road, was derived from the Tony Perez play. His new film, and his second for Cinema One Originals, Anatomya Ng Korupsyon, turns to a play for its source code, too, this time by Malou Jacob, but is really more a taking up of themes he started tapping into with his last, and entirely original, film, the vastly underrated Vox Populi.
What drew you to Anatomya Ng Korupsyon?
When the deadline for the 2011 Cinema One Originals was coming up last year, it was also the time when the headlines of the papers were bannering various cases of corruption in different government offices. I was struck with the incontrovertible fact that corruption has not been eradicated, and has, in fact, even increased and that thirty years after the setting of Anatomya, nothing much has seemed to change.
Your last film, Vox Populi, was also very political. This seems to be something that preoccupies your work of late.
Vox Populi was based on my personal experiences working in different political campaigns throughout the last two decades. However, my having taken graduate courses at the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance also informed both my decision and perspective when making that film. Choosing to do Anatomiya ng Korupsiyon next seemed logical as it is also about government and public service. I went back to school two years ago and I will have to admit that my course work during that period has affected the choices I have made regarding material to work with, in both theater and film.
Tell us a little about it.
The film follows Cely , who’s played by Maricar Reyes, a young lawyer who joins the Family Court as a Hearing Officer, eager to dispense speedy justice, only to find out that her way of doing things goes against established practice.
You directed Anatomya for the stage, didn’t you?
I directed the first production of the play by Tanghalang Pilipino in 1992. It was so well-received that the production was revived twice, in 1994 and in 2000. The play also spawned a radio program, Sugpuin ang Korupsiyon, which has earned a Hall of Fame award from the KBP and other awards and citations. A new production by Tanghalang Pilipino has also been touring for the last couple of years now.
How did you approach this as a director, as opposed to how you approached the play?
A major adjustment was that in staging the play, I conflated some of the characters and even had actors playing multiple roles. In this case, I went back to the original material and cast of characters set by the playwright (Malou Leviste Jacob) and worked from there.
I decided to adapt the material and write the screenplay myself, and aside from the obvious method of opening-up the play, decided to divide the play into three parts, each with a particular character as a focalizer. It seemed obvious that because of the facility of doing close-ups, the film can present to the audience what each of the characters are thinking, especially in the case of Bok (the clerk/stenographer), Ric (the senior hearing officer), and Cely.
Your first Cinema One film, Sa North Diversion Road, was also based on a stage play. Was the way you transitioned the material from stage to screen any different with that film?
Sa North Diversion Road was really written as a two-character play for two actors, and even though I gave life to other characters, albeit played by the same set of actors, I kept that essence in the film. The play by Tony Perez was bordering on the metaphysical, but Anatomiya ng Korupsiyon was more realistic, and so there was an effort to come up with a realistic depiction of the milieu , the play is set in the early 1980’s. This time, too, I am adding an epilogue that I hope the audience will recognize as my statement rather than the playwright’s.
Editor’s Note: Dodo Dayao is a writer of many things: film essays, reviews, and comics. He is also a stalwart film festival organizer and enthusiast. According to his website “mataba. mahiyain. dating pogi.” Out of personal bias we’ll disagree with the last one; he’s still pogi. Check out his blog here and follow him on twitter here.