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Busan Project Market: Antoinette Jadaone Tackles Misogyny With ‘Boldstar’

After making a handful of award-winning shorts, Filipina filmmaker Antoinette Jadaone made her feature debut in 2011 with “Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay” that received considerable festival play, including at Busan in 2012.

Her 2014 film, “That Thing Called Tadhana” is one of the highest grossing independent films in the Philippines. In addition, Jadaone has directed several studio-backed mainstream romantic comedies and dramas. Her “Fan Girl” that was at the Busan international Film Festival’s 2018 Asian Project Market is in post-production now. She returns to the project market with “Boldstar”, a project that was conceptualized in 2016 and is being realized now.

“Around 20 years ago, the soft porn genre was all the rage in Philippine cinema,” Jadaone told Variety. “We had what we call ‘boldstars,’ the female protagonists in these usually low-budget, but high-grossing, ‘bold’ films. Then the rom-com genre began to rise to popularity, and the boldstars were replaced by the quirky leading ladies. What has become of the bold stars then? How are they living now? Their 15 minutes of fame and fortune is over. How do they deal with their life now out of the glitz and glamour of show business? Fast forward to 2019, and this story has now evolved into more than just the story of an ex-boldstar. It is now also the story of every woman trying to live in the misogynistic society the Philippines has become. I love how this story is evolving. That’s what’s exciting about cinema.”

Jadaone is one of the few filmmakers who straddles the diverse worlds of independent and mainstream cinema. While “Alone/Together” (2019), “Never Not Love You” (2018) and “Love You to the Stars and Back” (2017) are popular films, “Boldstar” is a return to her independent cinema roots.

“For (Philippines) mainstream cinema, usually, the cast comes before the story and script,” says Jadaone. “Do you have a story for Actor X and Actor Y?” (Actors X and Y are usually part of what we call “love teams,” two actors paired together in almost all projects, be it TV or film. Rom-coms are their cup of tea.) For independent cinema, script comes first, and you find the actors that are right for your story. Both have advantages and disadvantages. I love working in both. You just have to choose your battles.”

Helping Jadaone choose her battles for the $450,000 budgeted “Boldstar” are her prolific producers. Bianca Balbuena of Epicmedia has a considerable body of work behind her including Lav Diaz’s “A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery” that won a Silver Bear at Berlin in 2016. The recipient of the Asian Film Commissions Network Producer award in 2018, Balbuena is currently producing a mini-series directed by Bradley Liew for Philippines iWant, and is also working on the distribution of his feature “Motel Acacia” that is premiering at Tokyo. Also in production under Balbuena’s wing are the debut features of Filipino female directors Rae Red and Eve Baswel. And financing is being raised for Lav Diaz’s “When The Waves Are Gone” and Vietnamese co-production, “Cu Li Never Cries” by Pham Ngoc Lan.

Fellow producer Dan Villegas of Project 8 Corner San Joaquin Projects, who is also a director (“All Of You”, “Changing Partners”) has previously produced Jadaone’s “That Thing Called Tadhana,” “Alone/Together” and “Never Not Love You”.

The “Boldstar” shoot is planned for late 2020.

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