Auraeus Solito, director of 'Busong'.
One of the films that Filipinos should be proud of is Auraeus Solito’s ‘Busong’ dubbed as a material that transcends the border between documentary and fiction, which deals with animism and is very close to nature as described by Frederic Boyer of Cannes Directors’ Fortnight. The film made it as one of 21 (short, feature and documentary) films from all over the world.
The late and veteran director Lino Brocka’s ‘Insiang’, Brillante Mendoza’s ‘Foster Child’ and Raya Martin’s ‘Now Showing’—were among those Filipino films that went through the Directors’ Fortnight prior to getting into the main competition and Un Certain Regard (a more daring and experimental section), respectively.
‘Busong’ is based on true stories in South Palawan but transformed into a metaphorical allegory of today’s happenings. Some of its footages are a mix of my actual relatives and actual experiences with the myth of ‘Angkadang’ and ‘Punay’ (the two main characters).
Solito is seen here motivating his actors.
Solito was asked on why he chose ‘Busong’ as entry, he shared his thoughts, “My mother told me stories of her hometown in the remotest part of Southern Palawan to put me to sleep when I was a kid.
“I grew up imagining this land full of magic and shamans, of mythical creatures and powerful spells. I have known the concept of ‘Busong’ since I was young.”
According to Solito, ‘Busong’ as a metaphor is powerful. It's like ‘karma’—for it paints the effects of what humans do to nature and what humans do to themselves as well.
“When I went home to Palawan and rediscovered that I belong to the indigenous Palaw’an tribe (where the origin of the name of Palawan came from), I witnessed a beautiful culture that is endangered to be wiped-out due to outside forces and greed of the modern man. This film is my weapon against this greed,” he emphasized.
De Rossi to play Punay
Alessandra De Rossi perfectly fits the role of Punay.
Solito singled out the young actress Alessandra de Rossi to breathe into the character of Punay.
“Alessandra embodies the Palawan morena,” Auraeus justified his choice.
“I was searching for a morena who will play Punay, and realized that nowadays it is rare to find a morena in mainstream films because of our colonial mentality on emulating the white skin. Then Alex popped in my mind since I have always loved her acting ever since I saw her in ‘Azucena’ and ‘Hubog’.
For Solito, Alex (short for Alessandra), “She is simply a brilliant actress. And I was not wrong. She is a pro, na walang karate-arte. She undersands and gets direction so quickly and so precise. She is uncanny!”
Given such eye for his character, there is no doubt that Punay’s character fits to Alex’s sensitive brand of acting style.
The Right Ingredient to Succeed
Getting recognized here is already an achievement, but to earned the ‘nod’ and be part of Cannes Directors’ Fortnight is an honor that Solito couldn’t contained.
He thought that it was because of the film’s character--it’s a world that no one has ever seen before. It is the first indigenous Palawan film that impressed the people behind the festival. Solito further pointed that the images and magic that he filmed goes back to nature and man’s relation to it made his entry unique and intriguing.
With his success, he gave credit to, “All I can say is… be true… to yourself and to your art. I have been dreaming of making my Palawan film since 1994. Nagtiyaga ako maghanap at maghanap ng paraan na magawa ito. It took me four feature films before I made the film that I have always wanted to make. And I guess, the timing is apt, for I am more mature now as an artist. Hinog na siguro ako.
“So it is really a great blessing that now that I have made this dream film of mine and got selected in Cannes.”
As an artist, he pointed that there’s a time for everything, “In its right time, one will get recognition-if it’s his time and he is true to himself and his art.
He added, “It is not enough to want to become a filmmaker. One must have a great need to say something that only cinema can communicate.”