Rachel Alejandro looks forward to Italian reception to ‘Ang Larawan’

Rachel Alejandro and Celeste Legaspi in publicity photo for 'Ang Larawan'

Following well-received screenings at the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Cinematografo Film Festival in San Francisco late last year, “Ang Larawan” is set to make its European premiere as it will compete at the 20th Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy this month.

Upon learning about the latest international destination of the acclaimed musical film, lead cast member and co-executive producer Rachel Alejandro admitted she could not contain her excitement.

“I squealed and jumped up and down with joy when I learned that we were one of three Filipino films selected to participate in the Udine Far East Film Festival. We opened strong with sold out screenings in Tokyo last November and were so touched by the warm reception of the Japanese audience,” Rachel shared in a recent interview with Concept News Central.

The two other Filipino films set to premiere at Udine are Rae Red and Fatrick Tabada’s “Si Chedeng at si Apple” and Raya Martin’s “Smaller and Smaller Circles.” The Far East Film Festival is a premiere European filmfest that showcases popular Asian films.

According to Rachel, “Ang Larawan” is scheduled to have its Udine premiere on April 24, 11 am at the Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine.

“It’s simply a dream come true for me to be showcasing our Filipino talent to the rest of the world. And now, to be able to see an Italian audience’s reaction to our film is beyond exciting. Of course, we are counting on our kababayans in Italy to come out and support us as well,” she quipped.

Based on the three-act play “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” by National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin, “Ang Larawan” tells of how the financially troubled Marasigan sisters Candida (played by Joanna Ampil) and Paula (Rachel) held on to their father’s masterpiece in spite of great interest and attractive offers from potential buyers.

Produced by Culturtain Musicat Productions, with libretto written by National Artist Rolando Tinio, and music composed by Ryan Cayabyab. “Ang Larawan” was also an entry in last year’s Metro Manila Film Festival where it won six awards including Best Picture.

'Ang Larawan' lead stars Joanna Ampil, Paulo Avelino and Rachel Alejandro
‘Ang Larawan’ lead stars Joanna Ampil, Paulo Avelino and Rachel Alejandro

Rachel, who is currently doing the comedy musical, “Monty Phyton’s Spamalot” which is now playing at the Globe Auditorium of the Maybank Performing Arts Theater, is excited about seeing “Ang Larawan” as a competing film in Udine.

“We are not expecting anything at this point. All we want to be able to continue showcasing Filipino talent all over the world. To be given that opportunity is a prize enough on its own. We would be thrilled to win an award, of course, but if I am not mistaken, the winners are selected by the audience watching all the films throughout the festival,” she pointed out.

Joining the actress in representing “Ang Larawan” at Udine is an entourage composed of director Loy Arcenas, actress and executive producer Rachel Alejandro, actress and executive producer Celeste Legaspi, executive producer Girlie Rodis, supervising producer Alemberg Ang, and musical director Ryan Cayabyab.

“It has been almost 20 years since I had gone to an international film festival so I am once again excited for this chance to feel how a different, foreign audience will view a Filipino film. A Filipino musical film, to be more specific!” quipped Ryan Cayabyab, who like Celeste Legaspi has been involved in “Ang Larawan” since it was first conceptualized 21 years ago.

“[For me,] ‘Ang Larawan’ is a wonderful adventure in my life that continues to rock my world today. From the time I stepped onstage 21 years ago as Candida, to meeting inspired and enthusiastic viewers after watching ‘Larawan,’ these are precious and profound scenes of my life… Onward to even more!,” Celeste shared.

For director Loy Arcenas one of the best things about going to Udine is the opportunity to introduce Cayabyab’s music. He says, “I love the fact that Europe will get to know more of Mr. C’s brilliance through the performances of some of the best Filipino singer-actors captured in ‘Ang Larawan.’”

Meanwhile, audiences in the Philippines can still watch “Ang Larawan” as the film is currently touring the country through school tours and special screenings. For updated schedule of the film’s local and international screenings, check out Ang Larawan The Movie on Facebook or log on to anglarawan.com.

The film’s stellar cast also includes Paulo Avelino, Sandino Martin, Nonie Buencamino, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Robert Arevalo, Cris Villonco, Aicelle Santos, Cara Manglapus, Rayver Cruz, Ogie Alcasid, Jojit Lorenzo, Dulce, Nanette Inventor, Jaime Fabregas, Noel Trinidad, Mikee Cojuangco, Ricky Davao, Martin del Rosario and the late Bernardo Bernardo.