MANILA, Philippines - Independent filmmaker Ato Bautista has crafted "Palitan," his official entry to the 8th Cinema One Originals Festival's Currents section, as homage to his favorite Filipino film, the Peque Gallaga-helmed classic "Scorpio Nights" released in 1985.
In an interview with Bulletin Entertainment, Bautista shared, "When you're young, when you're starting out as a filmmaker, the first things that you do is to give tribute to your favorite films...
"It's like painting. When you're a painter, pagdadaanan mo sa mga ginagawa mo 'yung magpe-paint ka ng hubad na tao o babae. Parang gano'n ko siya tinitingnan. So I thought of a material that would be like that. A nude piece, kumbaga, a nude painting, or a filmmaker's nude obra. So I thought of a story... Usually kasi, character-driven 'yung stories ko, 'yung mga pelikula ko," he said.
According to Bautista, "Palitan" was initially conceived as a follow-up to his first obra, "Sa Aking Pagkakagising Mula sa Kamulatan," and "was supposed to be the reunion of the cast in the first film. But it was never produced then. So nag-iba."
The filmmaker then pitched the idea to a film studio soon after, in 2005, where he claimed that it had a shot at becoming the third in the acclaimed risqué series after Erik Matti's "Scorpio Nights 2."
"They liked the material, they liked the pitch, so they asked us to write the treatment and so on and so forth. They liked it so much and they were planning to get the rights of the title, 'Scorpio Nights.' So it was supposed to be launched [as] 'Scorpio Nights 3'," he said.
However, things did not pan out due to certain technicalities.
"Rumors, I cannot quote them, but rumors from inside and from a filmmaker who's very close to them and has made many films [for the studio] told me that they didn't get the rights that's why they didn't pursue 'Palitan' to be 'Scorpio Nights'," he explained.
Nevertheless, Bautista believes that he had filmed "Palitan" better than he would have had in the past, "kasi mas na-explore ko 'yung pwedeng gawin d'un sa material..."
"The way I shot it now, it would have been different if I shot it seven years ago. I already made five films before I made this one, so may iba na 'kong hinahanap. Usually kasi every time I make a film, I go out of my comfort zone. I don't repeat myself. Kumbaga mag-iiba 'yung camera style, mag-iiba 'yung how I want it to look like, gano'n," he elaborated.
"Palitan" is an erotic psychological drama-thriller which stars Mon Confiado and Mara Lopez as common-law partners Nestor and Luisa; and Alex Medina as Ramiro, Nestor's subordinate who wants Luisa. Due to the highly mature content of the film, the Movie and Television Review and Clarification Board (MTRCB) gave it an R-16 rating.
Bautista, whose previously released works save for one have been rated R-18 without cuts, was "confident" that he'd get the same rating for "Palitan."
Surprised yet thankful of the result, he expressed, "I am confident, but not sure, of course, if they'll give it an X. But then I was hoping that, the same with my previous body of work, they'll give it an R-18. And it's a surprise, a bonus, that it has R-16 rating. [The result's] even better..."
"Palitan" is set to have its premiere night on Dec. 1, 9:30 p.m. at the EDSA Shangri-La Plaza. It will also have screenings on Dec. 2 at 8:00 p.m., Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m., and Dec. 8 at 12:30 p.m. at the Robinson's Galleria Movie World; and on Dec. 4 at 2:30 p.m. also at the EDSA Shangri-La Plaza.