‘Bwaya,’ ‘OTWOL’ director Francis Xavier Pasion, 38, found dead in QC unit

Award-winning film and television director Francis Xavier Pasion was found dead in the bathroom of his house in Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City on Sunday afternoon.

Joji Alonso, producer of Pasion’s Cinemalaya entries “Sampaguita, National Flower” (2010)  and “Bwaya” (2014), said that the director has not been answering texts and calls since last night. The director’s family members found his lifeless body in the bathroom.

According to the initial findings of PNP SOCO operatives, Pasion died of heart attack. He was 38.

The late Francis Xavier Pasion at the 2009 Gawad Awards. He accepted the award for Best Screenplay for the Cinemalaya film ‘Jay.’ (Photo by David Fabros.)

Pasion’s last project was the hit television soap “On the Wings of Love” starring James Reid and Nadine Lustre.

His film “Bwaya” starring Angeli Bayani won Best Film under the New Breed Category in the 10th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, where it also bagged awards for Best Cinematography and Best Original Score.

In 2008, “Jay,” his feature film directorial debut, won Best Film and Best Editing at Cinemalaya. It also won awards from the Venice, Busan, and Berlin film festivals.

Pasion was born in Manila on February 8, 1978. He graduated cum laude at Ateneo de Manila University where he majored in Communication. He is the founder of Loyola Film Circle, the university’s first film organization that promotes education in the Philippine film arts and film production.

He has worked as writer and director for several ABS-CBN television shows such as “Princess and I,” “Nathaniel,” “My Binondo Girl,” “Wansapanataym” and “Dyesebel.”

He was all set for a Cinemalaya entry for next year entitled “My Positive Mother.”

Chris Pine, off to a daring sea rescue in ‘The Finest Hours’

When Chris Pine is considering upcoming projects with which to become involved, a clear indication for the actor is a screenplay he can read in one sitting. With Walt Disney Pictures’ “The Finest Hours,” he couldn’t put it down.

“The Finest Hours” is based on the extraordinary true story of the greatest small boat rescue in Coast Guard history in the U.S. Presented in Digital 3D, the film transports audiences to the heart of the action, creating a fully-immersive cinematic experience on an epic scale.

Pine, who has starred in the “Star Trek” films, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” and “Into the Woods,” among numerous others, appreciated the story’s simplicity and was drawn to the character of Petty Officer First Class Bernie Webber, the amiable captain of the CG36500 lifeboat, who becomes an unlikely hero.

“Bernie is sweet and quite gentle and is a man who hasn’t really found his voice yet. He grew up in a family of very strong men who went into battle and got their badges, and Bernie, having been too young to go to war, feels that he should have been there,” says Pine. “I like Bernie because he’s not encumbered by any cynicism or irony and he’s not slick and sharp…he’s not ‘big city.’ He’s a man from a different time.”

Webber led a similar rescue mission one year before the SS Pendleton disaster that was unsuccessful and haunted him. The William J. Landry, a fishing boat from New Bedford, Massachusetts, had been trapped at sea by a major squall and after three failed attempts to rescue the fishermen on board, the boat was destroyed, their crew never found. Webber’s confidence was shaken as a result.

“Bernie has so much heart; he’s such an interesting, lovable character,” says director Craig Gillespie. “He’s the guy who you feel is not going to amount to much and then he surprises everybody. And Chris used everything from his mannerisms to his accent, and the evolution of such a fully fleshed character surprised me at every turn, especially because the audience views him as the underdog. We set him up that way, and Chris just makes Bernie shine on screen.”

Station Chief Warren Cluff assigns his more-experienced men to assist with the SS Fort Mercer rescue efforts taking place off the coast of Nantucket, but the crew believes it is impossible to cross the Chatham Bar due to the storm and even though it will take longer, leaves from Stage Harbor instead. Webber, on the other hand, does not object and departs with his crew from the station as ordered, heading directly into one of the deadliest spots in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Bernie did what he was told, even though everyone knew the rescue mission was close to impossible,” explains Gillespie. “At the beginning of the story the fact that he always does what he is told is almost a detriment, but as he goes through this journey we see that he comes into his own and becomes a thinking man: someone who makes his own choices and becomes a true leader, and that was something that Chris was able to beautifully portray through the nuances in his performance.”

“Because this is a true story you want to do justice to these men and what they accomplished…you want to pay tribute to them and hopefully capture the essence of who they actually were,” says Pine. “There’s this really great audio recording of Bernie telling the story many years after what happened that night, and just listening to his cadence and how he responded to the gentleman asking the questions you could tell that he had told the story many times and I got the feeling that he didn’t want to talk about it much anymore. In talking with people who knew Bernie I found that this was a great part of who he was—a quiet guy who took very seriously a job that he was very good at.”

Started playing across the Philippines on March 2, 2016, “The Finest Hours” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #FinestHoursPH.

True-to-life story inspires ‘Miracles from Heaven’

Based on the inspiring book and astonishing true story of the girl rescued by an out-of-the-blue accident, comes Columbia Pictures’ “Miracles from Heaven,” the rousing portrait of a family suddenly discovering joy and promise in the most tumultuous moment of their lives.

Golden Globe® winner Jennifer Garner stars as Christy Beam, a tenacious, devoted mother whose world is flipped upside down when her daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) is struck with a rare, incurable disorder. With a parent’s fiercest determination, Christy summons the courage to do everything she can and beyond for her child, heading on a heart-gripping quest through a medical maze, even as her faith begins to flag. Yet, just when all truly seems lost, a series of unfathomable yet documented events unfold that leave not only Christy but doctors, family and community at once baffled and profoundly inspired by the astonishing mysteries life holds out to us.

Everybody comes to a crucial moment in life when they feel they’re flat out of options. Maybe it’s a daunting health crisis. Maybe it’s family troubles or a tough emotional dilemma, but one way or the other we’ve all hit that brick wall where hope, faith and everything that usually sustains us through the day-to-day seems to evaporate, leaving the mind reeling with massive questions with no ready answers. These moments can take us down; but it is also in these moments that the unpredictable beauty and grace of life can suddenly beguile, surprise and utterly change us.

Texas mom Christy Beam was in exactly that position when she began the story that became her inspirational memoir, Miracles From Heaven. She was living an undeniably blessed life in Texas with her veterinarian husband and beautiful family of three vivacious daughters. But then, her middle daughter Annabel got sick. Diagnosed with a heart wrenching, fatal disorder – one that left her unable to digest the food most of us take for granted as one of life’s pleasures – Annabel was in dire straits. The best doctors on earth were at a loss for a solution. And all of Christy’s relentless, ceaseless efforts to heal her daughter seemed to be failing. Though absolutely unwilling to give up on the outside, on the inside, Christy was terrified, uncertain, lost.

Then, in an instant, everything changed. It began with a shocking, headlong tumble into the core of a hollowed-out cottonwood tree and it turned into both a headline-making rescue and a stunning result no scientist could adequately explain. Annabel herself had an amazing personal story to tell: a memory of a heavenly encounter that dispatched her back to her family. But for Christy, her daughter’s inexplicable recovery was only the beginning. For her daughter’s seemingly rare miracle became a moment that transformed their daily lives – as Christy began to see just how many day-to-day miracles had graced their path: from the kindness of a stranger, to the compassion of a brilliant doctor, to the candid conversations that rekindled the entire family’s sense of purpose and belief.

Beam notes that big, logic-defying mysteries such as Annabel’s can serve as reminders that subtler wonders surround us on a regular basis – and she hopes through her family’s story more people will take solace in knowing how life-changing a single act of compassion or kind word can be.

Says Beam: “I used to think a miracle came with a flash and a boom and a loud voice but now I know a miracle is also goodness, it’s love, it’s when things work that have no reason to work. To me, it’s the showing of God’s hand. There are miracles that are great and huge such as walking away from a 30 feet headfirst fall. But there are many small miracles in life too and I’m so grateful to embrace those now and watch for them every day. After everything that happened, I made a conscious decision to not take any of the little, amazing moments of life for granted.”

Opening across the Philippines on March 16, 2016, “Miracles from Heaven” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.