Ben Winchell gives life to Mattel toy action figure in ‘Max Steel’ movie

The latest teen heartthrob hero rises in the toy-to-movie “Max Steel” based on Mattel’s most popular action figure of the same name. Starring in the titular role is Ben Winchell, best known for his roles on Disney Channel’s “A.N.T. Farm” and USA’s “Necessary Roughness”.

Director Stewart Hendler and screenwriter Christopher Yost (who also wrote the screenplay of “Thor: The Dark World”) adapt “Max Steel” for the big screen. “Max Steel” is a live action feature-length origin story that combines identifiable characters, familiar terrestrial settings and innovative use of technology to create a realistic re-interpretation of the traditional superhero film.

Teenager Max McGrath (Winchell) and his mother (Maria Bello) have recently moved back to Copper Canyon, the town where Max was born and his scientist father died under mysterious circumstances. Adjusting to a new school is not easy for Max, and becomes even more complicated when his body starts to generate strange energy flare-ups that he can’t control. This unpredictable power surge grows too intense for Max to handle and he is forced to distance himself from those around him, including his new friend, Sofia.

On the brink of fatal combustion, Max is rescued by Steel, a techno-organic extraterrestrial who has been secretly monitoring his progress. The two discover that when joined together they can control the energy and harness it into superhuman strength – but when apart, neither can survive.

As these unlikely friends learn to accept their connected fates, they begin to uncover secrets surrounding the death of Max’s father and, digging deeper, find themselves hunted by an unforeseen enemy bent on capturing Max and Steel for a sinister agenda of destruction. Uncertain who to trust, the two will have to work together to uncover the truth and find a way to defeat the mysterious force threatening their world.

“We wanted Max Steel to be a real teenager, universal in his appeal with his first crush, moving to a new school, being raised by a single mom,” says O’Dowd. “We wanted a film that would resonate with the audience no matter where they lived – Miami, Topeka, Rome or Caracas. And Stewart’s take on how to tell Max’s story is from that viewpoint. It’s not glossed over. It’s not shiny. It’s not something that looks like a typical superhero movie. This is a real teenage boy, living in a real teenage world, who just happens to be a superhero.”

“I love the script,” adds Winchell. “It has great heart and humor combined with spectacular action and special effects. And me a superhero…it’s every kid’s dream!”

A new hero rises when “Max Steel” opens in cinemas on October 19, 2016 from Pioneer Films.

Action-packed drama ‘Deepwater Horizon’ shows true story of survival

From Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, producer of memorable blockbusters such as “The Matrix,” “The Perfect Storm,” “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” comes another thrilling edge-of-your-seat drama thriller “Deepwater Horizon” starring an impressive cast led by Mark Wahlberg along with Dylan O’Brien, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich and Gina Rodriguez (“Jane The Virgin”).

Directed by Peter Berg, known for his cerebral and visceral thrillers such as “Very Bad Things,” “The Kingdom” and “Hancock,” “Deepwater Horizon” is based on the true events that occurred on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, the story chronicles the courage of those who worked on the Deepwater Horizon and the extreme moments of bravery and survival in the face of what would become one of the biggest man-made disasters in world history.

Wahlberg takes on the role of real-life Transocean chief electronics technician Mike Williams, a devoted family man who was overseeing the rig’s computers and electrical systems on April 20th, when everything he imagined could go wrong … did.

After the explosion, Mike Williams aligns himself closely with 23 year-old rig worker Andrea Fleytas, who is played in a departure by Golden Globe® winner and “Jane The Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez. Rodriguez had to explore both a woman’s deepest fears and greatest courage for the role. “The true life Andrea is a real character and Gina brings great energy and an essential goodness to who she is as a person,” says di Bonaventura. “She also captures what it’s like to be a 23 year old woman in the middle of a crazy, ultimately catastrophic situation.”

Says Rodriguez of embodying Fleytas: “Pete was all about trying to be as authentic as possible, so I did a lot of my own research and even went to dynamic positioning officer training in Houston. It was quite the experience.”

Also joining the ensemble are two-time Oscar® nominee John Malkovich as BP company man Donald Vidrine; Dylan O’Brien as the young floorhand Caleb Holloway and Oscar® nominee and Golden Globe® winner Kate Hudson, who coincidentally is starring in a film for the first time alongside Kurt Russel. Hudson portrays Mike Williams wife, Felicia. Says Hudson: “What’s exciting about this film is that people will not only understand more about what happened on the Deepwater Horizon but also get to know these people and the actual experience of how terrifying and challenging it was.”

The challenges of working on these intricate sets brought cast and crew closer – but also were a constant reminder of just how much greater the difficulties were to those who found themselves trying to survive the most destructive oil rig disaster in history. Sums up director of photography Enrique Chediak: “There are many emotions people have about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This movie makes you aware of what the people on the rig had to go through – and that is the part that is so incredible.”

“Deepwater Horizon” opens in now playing in cinemas from Pioneer Films.

Nora Aunor-starrer ‘Hinulid’ focuses on mother’s loss and grief

“Hinulid (The Sorrows of Sita),” one of the entries at the 2016 QCinema International Film Festival (QCinema) Circle Competition, shows a grieving mother who tries to hold on to her religious devotions while struggling to accept the tragic death of her son.

Poet and filmmaker Kristian Cordero, who hails from the Bicol region, teamed up with superstar Nora Aunor, another Bikolano, to flesh out the story of Sita Dimaiwat, a steadfast Roman Catholic who lost her son in an incident in Manila.

Sita, an overseas Filipino worker, travels back to Bicol carrying her son’s ashes. In mourning, Sita proves that memory is stronger than justice and that even the most broken life can be restored and healed.


Cordero shares that the movie took off from Carlos Ojeda Aureus’ story, “The Night Train Does Not Stop Here Anymore.”

“Aureus’ stories have moved me in many, many ways and I would always return to his works of fiction, which I consider a living spring of inspiration. I got so moved by his characters because I felt a certain and acute sense of closeness to them because his stories are all set in Naga,” he explains.

Cordero adds: “His stories revolve around people who are very familiar to me. I see and encounter them. These are priests, old bachelors, battered wives, and colegialas who, at a certain point in their lives, undergo a crisis of faith.”

He shares that some of the elements used in the movie were drawn from the Aureus fiction, including the Bicol-bound train where Sita rides; the Catholic upbringing; the mother-son parallelism akin to the Mary-Jesus relationship; the lessons in astronomy; and the discussions about evil versus good and why evil happens to good people.

But Cordero still made the movie his by introducing his own story that shows fragments of indigenous mysticism and folk religion.

“My point of intervention in the story can be found in the narratives of the ‘Tolong Hinulid,’ the ‘Tandayag,’ and ‘La Muerte.’ In a way, ‘Hinulid (The Sorrows of Sita)’ is a tribute to Aureus and at the same time, I would like to experiment how our Bikol stories in poetry and in fiction can reach certain points of convergences, arrivals, and departures. Like Aureus, I am also an ex-seminarian,” he says.

“Tolong Hinulid” refers to the three statues of the dead Jesus Christ that are housed in Gainza, Camarines Sur. According to some reports, these religious icons were discovered individually in a river in Bicol.

In the Bikolano folklore, the “Tandayag” is a monstrous wild boar that was vanquished by the hero, Baltog.

“La Muerte” is a folk saint that personifies death. The powers of this saint are often associated with protection, healing, and the peaceful passage to the afterlife of devotees.

Cordero says that Sita’s role was inspired by the story of Naty Angeles, one of the main characters in the Aureus fiction.

“Like Naty, Sita lost her only son in a very tragic incident. Like Naty, Sita will undergo a crisis, a moment where she has to reckon with her faith and fears,” Cordero says.

In Cordero’s story, Sita has to come to terms that tragedies spare no one and that even the most pious is not exempted from feeling the pain of living in a broken world.

He says, “Sita must come to realize that the death of her son does not exclude her but will unite her with all other forms of tragedy and atrocities. In a way, this is very Marian, as she ponders everything in her heart.”

Thriving Bikolano Film Community

Cordero shares that Bicol has undergone a cultural renaissance in recent years which spurred the growth of the current Bikolano literary circuit.

He hopes that “Hinulid (The Sorrows of Sita)” would help propel the Bikolano movie and arts scene to greater heights.


Film financing is important in movie production. Although Cordero received a seed grant of P1 million pesos from the Quezon City Film Development Commission (QCFDC), he admits that he still faces financial struggles.

He acknowledges the support given by Aunor’s followers, the local government units of Buhi, Gainza, Naga, and Pasacao, and the Ateneo de Naga University.

Other individuals who helped in the production are Attorney Grex Lagman, Bob Factora, Dr. Gino Agra, Andrew Morano, and Jojo Moll. He also cites the local staff and crew members who helped him complete the film.


Cordero shares that “Hinulid (The Sorrows of Sita)” is the second in a trilogy of movies.

The first film was “Angustia (Out of the Depths),” which was one of the finalists at the Cinema One Originals Film Festival.

“Angustia (Out of the Depths)” was recognized as one of the three best first feature films in 2013 by the Young Critics Circle of the Philippines.

He says that the third movie will be entitled, “Colgante,” which will tackle the 1972 Colgante Bridge Tragedy in Naga City. The hanging bridge collapsed during the Peñafrancia fluvial procession, killing hundreds of people.

Bikolano Talent

Cordero, a faculty member of the Ateneo de Naga University, is a recipient of many literary awards including the Palanca Memorial Prize (five times in three categories), the Gintong Aklat Award, and the National Book Award, among others.

QCinema 2016

QCinema 2016 will run from October 13 to 22 at four mall venues namely, Ayala TriNoma, Gateway Cinemas, Robinsons Galleria, and UP Town Center. Its film seminars will be conducted at the QCX, the new museum complex at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

Read more: GUIDE: QCinema 2016

LIST: 85 countries in competition for 2016 Foreign Language Oscar

85 countries have submitted films for consideration in the Foreign Language Film category for the 89th Academy Awards. The 2016 submissions are the following:

  1. Albania, “Chromium,” Bujar Alimani, director;
  2. Algeria, “The Well,” Lotfi Bouchouchi, director;
  3. Argentina, “The Distinguished Citizen,” Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat, directors;
  4. Australia, “Tanna,” Bentley Dean, Martin Butler, directors;
  5. Austria, “Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe,” Maria Schrader, director;
  6. Bangladesh, “The Unnamed,” Tauquir Ahmed, director;
  7. Belgium, “The Ardennes,” Robin Pront, director;
  8. Bolivia, “Sealed Cargo,” Julia Vargas Weise, director;
  9. Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Death in Sarajevo,” Danis Tanovic, director;
  10. Brazil, “Little Secret,” David Schurmann, director;
  11. Bulgaria, “Losers,” Ivaylo Hristov, director;
  12. Cambodia, “Before the Fall,” Ian White, director;
  13. Canada, “It’s Only the End of the World,” Xavier Dolan, director;
  14. Chile, “Neruda,” Pablo Larraín, director;
  15. China, “Xuan Zang,” Huo Jianqi, director;
  16. Colombia, “Alias Maria,” José Luis Rugeles, director;
  17. Costa Rica, “About Us,” Hernán Jiménez, director;
  18. Croatia, “On the Other Side,” Zrinko Ogresta, director;
  19. Cuba, “The Companion,” Pavel Giroud, director;
  20. Czech Republic, “Lost in Munich,” Petr Zelenka, director;
  21. Denmark, “Land of Mine,” Martin Zandvliet, director;
  22. Dominican Republic, “Sugar Fields,” Fernando Báez, director;
  23. Ecuador, “Such Is Life in the Tropics,” Sebastián Cordero, director;
  24. Egypt, “Clash,” Mohamed Diab, director;
  25. Estonia, “Mother,” Kadri Kõusaar, director;
  26. Finland, “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki,” Juho Kuosmanen, director;
  27. France, “Elle,” Paul Verhoeven, director;
  28. Georgia, “House of Others,” Rusudan Glurjidze, director;
  29. Germany, “Toni Erdmann,” Maren Ade, director;
  30. Greece, “Chevalier,” Athina Rachel Tsangari, director;
  31. Hong Kong, “Port of Call,” Philip Yung, director;
  32. Hungary, “Kills on Wheels,” Attila Till, director;
  33. Iceland, “Sparrows,” Rúnar Rúnarsson, director;
  34. India, “Interrogation,” Vetri Maaran, director;
  35. Indonesia, “Letters from Prague,” Angga Dwimas Sasongko, director;
  36. Iran, “The Salesman,” Asghar Farhadi, director;
  37. Iraq, “El Clásico,” Halkawt Mustafa, director;
  38. Israel, “Sand Storm,” Elite Zexer, director;
  39. Italy, “Fire at Sea,” Gianfranco Rosi, director;
  40. Japan, “Nagasaki: Memories of My Son,” Yoji Yamada, director;
  41. Jordan, “3000 Nights,” Mai Masri, director;
  42. Kazakhstan, “Amanat,” Satybaldy Narymbetov, director;
  43. Kosovo, “Home Sweet Home,” Faton Bajraktari, director;
  44. Kyrgyzstan, “A Father’s Will,” Bakyt Mukul, Dastan Zhapar Uulu, directors;
  45. Latvia, “Dawn,” Laila Pakalnina, director;
  46. Lebanon, “Very Big Shot,” Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya, director;
  47. Lithuania, “Seneca’s Day,” Kristijonas Vildziunas, director;
  48. Luxembourg, “Voices from Chernobyl,” Pol Cruchten, director;
  49. Macedonia, “The Liberation of Skopje,” Rade Šerbedžija, Danilo Šerbedžija, directors;
  50. Malaysia, “Beautiful Pain,” Tunku Mona Riza, director;
  51. Mexico, “Desierto,” Jonás Cuarón, director;
  52. Montenegro, “The Black Pin,” Ivan Marinović, director;
  53. Morocco, “A Mile in My Shoes,” Said Khallaf, director;
  54. Nepal, “The Black Hen,” Min Bahadur Bham, director;
  55. Netherlands, “Tonio,” Paula van der Oest, director;
  56. New Zealand, “A Flickering Truth,” Pietra Brettkelly, director;
  57. Norway, “The King’s Choice,” Erik Poppe, director;
  58. Pakistan, “Mah-e-Mir,” Anjum Shahzad, director;
  59. Palestine, “The Idol,” Hany Abu-Assad, director;
  60. Panama, “Salsipuedes,” Ricardo Aguilar Navarro, Manolito Rodríguez, directors;
  61. Peru, “Videophilia (and Other Viral Syndromes),” Juan Daniel F. Molero, director;
  62. Philippines, “Ma’ Rosa,” Brillante Ma Mendoza, director;
  63. Poland, “Afterimage,” Andrzej Wajda, director;
  64. Portugal, “Letters from War,” Ivo M. Ferreira, director;
  65. Romania, “Sieranevada,” Cristi Puiu, director;
  66. Russia, “Paradise,” Andrei Konchalovsky, director;
  67. Saudi Arabia, “Barakah Meets Barakah,” Mahmoud Sabbagh, director;
  68. Serbia, “Train Driver’s Diary,” Milos Radovic, director;
  69. Singapore, “Apprentice,” Boo Junfeng, director;
  70. Slovakia, “Eva Nová,” Marko Skop, director;
  71. Slovenia, “Houston, We Have a Problem!” Žiga Virc, director;
  72. South Africa, “Call Me Thief,” Daryne Joshua, director;
  73. South Korea, “The Age of Shadows,” Kim Jee-woon, director;
  74. Spain, “Julieta,” Pedro Almodóvar, director;
  75. Sweden, “A Man Called Ove,” Hannes Holm, director;
  76. Switzerland, “My Life as a Zucchini,” Claude Barras, director;
  77. Taiwan, “Hang in There, Kids!” Laha Mebow, director;
  78. Thailand, “Karma,” Kanittha Kwunyoo, director;
  79. Turkey, “Cold of Kalandar,” Mustafa Kara, director;
  80. Ukraine, “Ukrainian Sheriffs,” Roman Bondarchuk, director;
  81. United Kingdom, “Under the Shadow,” Babak Anvari, director;
  82. Uruguay, “Breadcrumbs,” Manane Rodríguez, director;
  83. Venezuela, “From Afar,” Lorenzo Vigas, director;
  84. Vietnam, “Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass,” Victor Vu, director;
  85. Yemen, “I Am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced,” Khadija Al-Salami, director.

Oscars 2016 will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood. Live telecast will be on the ABC Television Network at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, and in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.