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Antonio's Secret in Europe

Last March 5, I got an email from a festival in Turin, Italy that partly reads:

"Dear Joselito Altarejos,

We are happy to inform you that "Ang Lihim ni Antonio" has been selected in the 24the edition of the Torino International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival- From Sodom to Hollywood, that will take place from April 23 to 30, 2009."

Here's a little info about the Festival according to its website:

"In 1981, Ottavio Mai and Giovanni Minerba decided to "resist"a kind of cinema that used the homosexual "character" for econdary and/or offensive roles, making their first film on video Dalla vito di Piero. Acclaimed at the Turin Film Festival, the film was invited to many film festivals.

And the idea of the Turin International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival "From Sodom to Hollywood" was born: Mai and Minerba attended many festivals to follow their work and realized that a great amount of important gay films never came to Italy. They started studying an idea of a festival to be presented to the official institutions of Region, Province and the City of Turin: but they were not given an answer for three years. In 1985, the "enlightened " Marziano Marzano was elected in the city council as councilor responsible for Culture and, among many controversies, some of them still existing, the festival, came to life in 1986, with the financial support from Turin Province and Piedmont Region, besides, the artistic and cultural support of many important national and international institutions like Museo Nazionale del Cinema, British Council, Goethe Institut, Colegio de Salamanca, B.F.I., Canadian Embassy, Spanish Culture Office, Centre Culturel Francais.

In the beginning, it was only a film show, but in 1989, it became a real festival, and in 1990 it obtained an official recognition from the Ministry of Tourism and Show.

Among its goals, this Festival has always had not only the need to show new films, but to keep a particularly aware Italian “eye” on the artistic and internationally acclaimed cinema that otherwise would never have a go in our country. A kind of cinema that has always had many difficulties to find a distribution in Italy. Think about the difficult distribution of videos, artistic documentaries and short films.. Attended by “professionals” (film critics and journalists), students and passionate film experts, this Festival has always kept a strong bond with the common filmgoer, offering spectacular moments taken from international realities and giving the new generation the opportunity to discover, through many retrospectives, the fundamental characters of gay films and culture.

This is the peculiarity of this Festival: in fact, comparing it with other international gay film festivals, you will notice that the Turin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is one of a few in the world to receive a general recognition from the public and the press, newspapers and TV, following the event with increasing interest and support."

This will be the second time that Lihim will be shown to an international audience. The first time was in the Imageout Film Festival in Rochester, New York las October 2008. Lihim was warmly received by the audience.

The Festival Guide had this to say about Antonio:

"Antonio's Secret takes a raw and honest look at the not-so-secret, and sometimes downright depraved, sex life of teenage boys. Director Joselito Altarejos adds a layer of depth by telling a rich story of a confused young man, growing up with few available positive role models, who makes crucial choices and is forced to face their tragic consequences. Using sometimes a woobly, handheld camera without employing much of a musical soundtrack, except for the occasional tunes from the neighborhood musician, Altarejos pulls his audience in and makes it a highly voyeuristic and intimate affair.

Our ImageOut There! Series brings you the type of film that rarely gets made in politically correct Hollywood, and definitely not coming to your neighborhood multiplex anytime soon. Antonio's Secret confronts the taboo topic of incest head on while giving an authentic porttratit of middleclass life in Manila, from the squalor of urban squatters typical of Filipino films with international distribution. Be warned that this film contains nudity, sensitive mature themes, and one graphic scene of violence.

With the advent of digital filmmaking, Philippine Cinema is enjoying a boost from young and edgy filmmakers. ImageOut is proud to provide forum for these undiscovered gems." -- Michael Gamilla

Incidentally, Kenjie Garcia is nominated in the 6th Golden Screen Awards in the Breakthrough Performance by an Actor Category. I am really happy that Kenjie got noticed. I know that he was perfect for the role of Antonio the moment he stepped into the room when he auditioned. I saw something in his eyes. I saw determination and sensitivity. I was right. He and Josh Ivan Morales gelled well with Shamaine Buencamino whose performance shone through the entire film.

"Lihim" not only got good reviews but is considered the highest grossing digital film shown in Robinsons cinemas.