Some weeks later, we met with Jose Javier Reyes, Joey to most, whom we had also known for his many years as scriptwriter-director of incisive and realistic material for which he had accumulated numerous awards. Joey, however, had never directed an indie and he had the perfect material for it, based roughly on his friendship with the late Don Escudero, Manny Castañeda and Khryss Adalia, and he was excited about it.
When Cinemalaya accepted his script, he knew its initial P500,000 seed money would not suffice and he needed around P3M more. Without much ado, his good friend Judy Ann Santos said she wouldn’t charge for her appearance, with three other girls Janice de Belen, Agot Isidro and Iza Calzado following suit. Joey’s long-time producer OctoArts’ Orly Ilacad (circa 1992, Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal, with Aga Muhlach, Lea Salonga, Ariel Rivera), said he would provide the balance needed. The film Mga Mumunting Lihim (Those Little Secrets) spoke of friendship, its solidity and fragility, and how one doesn’t really know one another completely
As we fell in line for the film during the Cinemalaya Greenbelt showing, listened to the full audience whisper to one another how familiar each character was, we knew Joey had a killer here. Come awards night, apart from his award, the ultimate recognition was given each of the four actresses Best Actress and Actress awards “whose acting as an ensemble was unparalleled in this specific .” Apart from this, the film was rated A by the Cinema Evaluation Board, and given an MTRCB rating of PG-13. To us, Joey’s tomorrow had come. We knew he would do more indie-related mainstream projects.
The next step, naturally, was to show the winner commercially. Again, Orly Ilacad comes to the rescue, with prints, ads, promotions and all the expenses a requires. Hopes are high that Mga Mumunting Lihim, as well as director Jun Lana’s Bwakaw with Eddie Garcia as an aging gay with no friends but Bwakaw the dog, would introduce the new cinema to a younger, more discerning audience. Mga Mumunting Lihim opens Aug. 22 in mainstream theaters.