“The Messiah” of Philippine Cinema was how Christopher Ad Castillo became known after the controversy surrounding one of his cinematic gems ‘Burlesk Queen’ which starred none other than Vilma Santos whose performance elevated her to the level of serious actress in 1977. Forces in and outside the local movie industry were prodding the acclaimed filmmaker to return the awards that the movie received. But with the support students were giving him, Castillo shared “sinabi ng mga studyante hindi bale na po direk, kayo naman po ang Messiah eh”. The press picked up and scribed the statement fast and in a short period of time, it was the tag he carried in his career.
Now after more than 50 movies in his 5 decade career, starting in 1965 with Zebra to 2003’s Sanib and more recently 666, ‘the Messiah’ is still one of the most durable film-makers actively working today. Such drive is not surprising to anyone familiar with the director who has won numerous awards like the FAMAS Best Director 1986 for Paradise Inn, FAMAS Best Director and Best Story 1979 for Pagputi ng Uwak Pag-itim ng Tagak, Gawad Urian Best Director and Best Screenplay for Pagputi ng Uwak Pagitim ng Tagak, Metro Manila Film Festival Best Story 1985 for Paradise Inn and Best Director 1977 for Burlesk Queen.
Today, a bevy of his movies remain immortal classics of today’s new breed of directors, writers, actors and fans of films.
In this episode, the multi-awarded filmmaker reveals what makes his movies and their stories unravel the inner personas of the characters that make every viewer want to reflect themselves from. Beauteous Gloria Diaz is really the only woman who comes to mind in ‘Ang Pinaka Magandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa (1974). Everybody confirmed the already serious actress in Vilma Santos in Burlesk Queen (1977). Asedillo (1971) became one of the most unforgettable movies of Fernando Poe, Jr. Divulging how Ramon Zamora impressed him in television gag show Super Laugh-In in the early 70s, “I knew instantly he was the right actor to play Pedro Penduko” in Ang Mahiwagang Daigdig ni Pedro Penduko (1973) and Return of the Dragon (1974).
In his various collaborations with acting heavyweights, Ad Castillo becomes candid when he recalls how his co-workers, actors and actresses particularly helped in his artistry and vice-versa. Dina Bonnevie in the hit Tag-Araw Tag-Ulan wrote and thanked him “because she said I taught her things about acting.” The incomparable Lolita Rodriguez “is a prima donna in a good way. Because primera klase siyang aktres.”
Do not ever miss director Celso Ad Castillo when he talks like a real movie ‘Messiah’ with Boy Abunda on Cinema One’s Inside the Cinema on Sunday November 14 at 10:15 pm. Cinema One is available on SkyCable Gold, SkyCable Silver and other quality cable operators nationwide.