‘USS Indianapolis’ explores worst sea disaster, shark attack at Philippine Sea

Nicolas Cage stars in “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” (aka “USS Indianapolis: Disaster at Philippine Sea”) that relives the worst sea disaster in the history of the US Navy and the inspiring true story of men of courage.

Starring alongside Cage in the movie are Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane, Matt Lanter, Brian Presley and Cody Walker aboard the USS Indianapolis as it race across the Pacific at 29 knots, USS Indianapolis reached Pearl Harbor in record time on July 19, unaccompanied, as ordered for her clandestine mission. She arrived at Tinian on July 26, and delivered her secret cargo, components of and the enriched uranium for the atomic bomb intended for Hiroshima.

At 14 minutes past midnight on July 30, she was struck on her starboard bow by two Type 95 torpedoes from the Japanese submarine. The explosions caused massive damage. The Indianapolis took on a heavy list, and settled by the bow. Twelve minutes later, she rolled completely over, then her stern rose into the air, and she plunged down. Some 300 of the 1,196-crew members went down with the ship. With few lifeboats and many without Lifejackets, the remainder of the crew was set adrift in the Philippine Sea. In the dead of night they were plunged into the open ocean battered, wounded, burned, covered in oil, having watched many of their shipmates die, barely surviving themselves, and scared beyond comprehension. The light of dawn only confirmed the gravity of their situation. They would be rescued once they did not arrive in the Philippines as scheduled that morning. However, the USS Indianapolis’ mission was still covert. The remaining crew of USS Indianapolis was left in the open ocean, alone.

The Philippine Sea is inhabited by mako sharks, blue sharks, oceanic whitetips and silky sharks. All are known to be opportunistic and aggressive feeders. The sharks began eating the dead on the first day. They seem to appear greater numbers late in the afternoon. In the quiet stillness of the night, survivor accounts recall hearing a scream off in the distance that meant someone was being attacked. The sharks had begun to take the living.

Although the USS Indianapolis (CA35) died at sea, the memory of her crew lives. Through the efforts of the USS Indianapolis (CA35) Second Watch, the memory of the Indianapolis will be preserved; her history, story, feeling and experiences shared. The Second Watch became an instrumental part of the project, providing historical facts, records and photos from survivors and their families. Most importantly, they provided a connection to survivors still living.

Says Cage, “My impression on meeting these survivors, was that they were, they are, remarkably strong willful people. The fact they are still with us . . . We wanted to honor them. They are true heroes.”

Richard P. Stephens, was the other living survivor that traveled to Mobile where the filming took place. Seizing the opportunity of an open bench seat, Cage sat down with Stephens as though he was chatting with an old friend. In retrospect, Rionda Del Castro felt the entire experience of writing, producing, editing and selling “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” was an enormous endeavor. “However, nothing compares to the real crewmembers plight. The horrors of what they went through, all of them, survivors, those lost at sea, and their families. To welcome them to our set was a privilege. I am producing a beautiful film with everything I have. Our desire was to make the final crew of the USS Indianapolis proud.” says the passionate French producer.

“USS Indianapolis” opens August 24, 2016 in cinemas from Pioneer Films.

Cinemalaya 2017 full-length film finalists announced

The 10 finalists of Cinemalaya 2017: The 13th Philippine Independent Film Festival were announced by the Competition Director Mel Chionglo at the Cinemalaya 2016 awarding ceremonies last August 14 at the CCP Main Theater.

The following are the finalists of Cinemalaya 2017 main competition:

  1. Alberto “Treb” Monteras II — “Respeto”
  2. Cenón Obispo Palomares — “Unang Patak ng Ulan sa Buwan ng Mayo”
  3. Zig Dulay — “Bagahe”
  4. Crisanto “Sonny” Calvento — “Nabubulok at Hindi Nabubulok”
  5. Eduardo Roy Jr. — “Lola Igna”
  6. Joseph Israel Laban — “Ang Mga Baconaua sa Panahon ng Subasko”
  7. Mes de Guzman — “Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha”
  8. Nerissa “NP” Picadizo — “Requited”
  9. Perry Escaño — “Ang Guro Kong Hindi Marunong Magbasa”
  10. Thop Nazareno — “Pacboy”

The 10 finalists were already informed as early as February 2016 so as to have a longer period of time for preparation. They have now inked their contracts with the country’s popular and prestigious local independent film festival.

More than a hundred sequence treatment entries were submitted last year and the list was cut to 25 semi-finalists. The 25 filmmakers were then asked to submit the full script of their entries. Pitching was done in the presence of the film festival’s Selection Committee.

See the world through a child’s eyes in ‘Pete’s Dragon’

Walt Disney Studios’ classic 1977 live-action/animated musical “Pete’s Dragon” – the endearing tale of a young boy and his friendship with an animated, green dragon – is re-imagined for today’s generation with the new family adventure bearing the same title.

In Philippine cinemas starting Sept. 07, the new “Pete’s Dragon” is the adventure of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliott, who just so happens to be a dragon. The film stars Bryce Dallas Howard (“Jurassic World”), Oakes Fegley (“This is Where I Leave You”), Wes Bentley (“The Hunger Games”), Karl Urban (“Star Trek”), Oona Laurence (“Southpaw”) and Oscar® winner Robert Redford (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”).

Disney had been eager for some time to introduce “Pete’s Dragon” to a whole new generation of film goer’s and brought on producer Jim Whitaker to shepherd the project. “There are so many people who grew up with the original film, and the idea of that movie became a leaping-off point for us,” says Whitaker. “We knew that this very simple idea about a boy and his dragon still had the potential to become a really special film.”

While independent filmmaker David Lowery may not have seemed the obvious choice to write and direct a new vision of a beloved Disney film, there are actually some similarities between his first feature, “Pioneer,” and “Pete’s Dragon.” Both stories deal with a sense of belonging, and in Pete’s case, a sense of family. Adds Whitaker, “There’s also a purity to both films and the wonderment of seeing things through the eyes of a child, and we thought David would be able to create a new, simple, yet pure, take on the story.”

As a child, Lowery was a fan of the classic Disney films (“Pinocchio” was the first film he saw in a theater), as they appealed to his sense of adventure. But Disney was not looking for the new “Pete’s Dragon” to have any direct association with the original, other than the title and basic premise; They were looking for someone to come up with a totally original story and new characters.

Lowery and his writing partner, Toby Halbrooks, have always been drawn to projects that have a certain naiveté and innocence about them, and they were excited by the possibilities. “Pete’s Dragon” turned out to be perfectly tailored to their sensibilities as writers. “I loved the idea of making a movie that deals with imagination and has a degree of fantasy,” Lowery says, “And there was no need to even think about reinventing the wheel when that wheel functioned so perfectly well.”

“There’s a process to developing a movie where you go through a series of drafts, but honestly, from the first draft, actually the first 20 pages, we knew the movie was there,” says Whitaker. “David was after a sense of, what he calls, ‘magical realism,’ and that came through because he allowed magic to seep into the script in unexpected ways.”

Many of Disney’s classic films like “Dumbo” and “Bambi” convey important issues to children and help prepare them with the tools and guidance to deal with those issues in their own lives. “Our story asks a fundamental question: where does one belong, “Lowery says.

With a finished screenplay in hand, Lowery began to set his sights on directing, and what he envisioned was a classic movie that would capture the feeling of what it meant to be young. “When you’re 10 years old everything you do seems like an epic adventure,” he says. “You don’t have to be riding on the back of a dragon…just the simple act of climbing a tree is exhilarating for kids.”

Opening across the Philippines on September 7, 2016, “Pete’s Dragon” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures. #PetesDragonPH

Meet the Other Giants in Disney’s ‘The BFG’

Not all giants in Disney’s “The BFG” are friendly. Based on the beloved book by Roald Dahl, the film tells the imaginative story of a young girl named Sophie and the Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. But Sophie’s presence in Giant Country has attracted the unwanted attention of nine fearsome giants – the brothers of the BFG himself — who have become increasingly more bothersome.

The cannybull and murderful motley group of mythical beasts who roam the earth gobbling up human beans provided all kinds of opportunities for invention, creativity and frightening fun for Steven Spielberg, his actors and his creative team.

Of all the evil giants who inhabit Giant Country, the BFG’s nine brothers are the worst. Substantially larger in size, they treat the BFG with cruelty and disdain, but in typical Roald Dahl fashion, they are also there to make us laugh. Dahl was somewhat of a giant in real life himself, standing 6-feet, 6-inches-tall.

Fleshlumpeater, who is played by the multi-talented actor, comedian and musical artist Jemaine Clement (“The Flight of the Conchords”), is 52-feet-tall with a big ego and a very small head. While he is the leader of the pack, the alpha male, in truth he is just a bully and a coward and not the brightest of the bunch. “My character is just a pile of muscles,” says Clement. “The BFG describes him as a cannibal, which is pretty accurate as he finds humans – especially children – delicious.”

Actor and comedian Bill Hader (“Trainwreck,” “Inside Out”) is Bloodbottler, the real brains of the pack. He is 43-feet-tall with a big beard and can always be found at Fleshlumpeater’s side telling him what to do. “In reality, Bloodbottler wants nothing to do with any of the other giants…he just wants to be left alone,” says Hader. “He does not like the BFG and he has created his own set of rules that the BFG is somehow breaking by just being himself.”

British actor Adam Godley (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) is Manhugger, the thin and slowest moving giant. He does the least of anyone and thinks only of himself. At 39-feet-tall, Gizzardgulper is the shortest of the nine giants. As played by Chris Gibbs (TV’s “Reign”), he is also the peacekeeper of the group and idolizes Fleshlumpeater. Bonecruncher is played by Michael David Adamthwaite (“Final Destination 5”) and is the youngest of the group and a troublemaker who often puts the others in danger.

Meatdripper, who is played by Canadian actor Paul Moniz de Sa (TV’s “The Flash”), is the jokester of the group and loves to go hunting for children. Jonathan Holmes (TV’s “Descendants”) plays Childchewer, Meatdripper’s best friend. He is the best looking of the group, and as a result, is always concerned with his appearance. Icelandic actor Ólafur Ólafsson (“The Last Witch Hunter”) is Maidmasher, who is the most stylish of the group. While masculine in his demeanor and appearance, he is also very in touch with his feminine side.

Finally, Butcherboy, who is played by Daniel Bacon (“The Day the Earth Stood Still”), walks with a limp, the result of a fight with Meatdripper which left him partially paralyzed. He would love to someday be top dog but knows it will never happen, and he has a chip on his shoulder as a result.

Opening across the Philippines on August 10, 2016, “The BFG” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures. #TheBFGPH