‘Miracle In Cell No. 7,’ WeTV Originals lead platform’s content slate

It was a gathering of creative minds at the online media event of the newest streaming platform that launched in the Philippines – WeTV, the home of Asian Premium Content. It promises to deliver the very best in regional content, including highly-anticipated Chinese dramas, K-dramas, Indonesian horror, Thai series, and now the best in Filipino content. Apart from the Philippines, WeTV is also streaming in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and India! 

WeTV is owned by Tencent, one of the largest global tech and entertainment companies, which has built a reputation as an industry leader in internet-related services. Among their more popular brands are RPG titles League of Legends, Fortnite, Clash of Clans, Path of Exile, Minecraft, and instant messaging platforms Tencent QQ and WeChat. They have also expanded further into music and film production with Tencent Music Entertainment, which has partnerships with top global music labels, and Tencent Penguin Pictures, which produces popular Chinese movies and series. 

In China, their streaming platform Tencent Video is the leading OTT platform, with more than 600 million users per month, delivering a large content library across many categories. They are also leading the pack in producing premium Chinese movies and series. In 2019, they expanded that reach into Asia, under the carrying brand of WeTV, delivering Asian premium content to a wider audience. The platform is also working with content producers in each territory to create original movies and series for its users. 

There was a lot of creative energy in the air as WeTV presented its 2021 content slate to the members of the press. As country manager Georgette Tengco stated during her opening remarks, the arrival of WeTV is “…an exciting thing for the Philippine market, as we have fully embraced Asian content, making it part of our regular entertainment consumption.” With this in mind, she adds, “We have steadily introduced popular Chinese Dramas, Korean Dramas, Thai drama and BL series, and so much more! As we add more Filipino content to the mix, we are poised to deliver on all your entertainment needs.” 

Among the top Asian titles coming soon are Chinese Dramas Oath of Love and The Golden Hairpin, the new Thai BL series Manner of Death, K-drama hits like Tale of the Nine Tailed and Flower of Evil, and Filipino rom-com James & Pat & Dave.  

For its initial movie offering for 2020, WeTV is pulling out all the stops as it brings one of the biggest movies of 2019 – Miracle In Cell No. 7 – exclusively to its users starting November 27. The lead cast of the film – Aga Muhlach, Bela Padilla, and Xia Vigor – joined the media launch, sharing their enthusiasm that the film, produced by Viva Films and was the top grosser of MMFF2019, will be seen by a wider audience through the platform. It was a lively exchange, as the cast eagerly talked about their experience working on the film, and about how it was so warmly received by their fans. 

Another highlight of the evening was the presentation of the slate of WeTV Originals coming out in 2021. “As a streaming service, we have a distinct opportunity to offer our users the widest variety of content across genres. It also gives us a platform to work with really creative minds to tell unique and compelling stories,” Ms. Tengco explains. “Taking our cues from Tencent and Tencent Video, we have seen how well-crafted Chinese WeTV Originals are, and how they are gaining traction across Asia and other markets. WeTV Philippines carries on this DNA in creating quality original content designed to cater and appeal to the Filipino market.”

The selection process for a WeTV Original starts with a good story. “Whether it is just the seed of a story idea, I keep an open mind at every content pitch,” adds Ms. Tengco. From there, it is a collaborative process between the writers, directors and producers – delivering on the promise of compelling stories and good entertainment. 

Among the first slew of titles launching under WeTV Originals are the following: 

  • Section St. Valentine: The Disappearance of Divine – A dark teen drama about senior high school students of Section St. Valentine, all of whom resume classes via Zoom except for “IT” girl in school, Divine Concepcion. Her absence triggers an online investigation to solve the mystery behind her disappearance. (Premiering January 2021)
  • BetCinThis is a GL story about lesbian couple, Beth &  Cindy, who are on the verge of a break-up, until they find themselves joining an online contest to become social media’s most favorite And adored loveteam. Beth sees the cash prize as a chance to start a new life with her new girlfriend, Kate. Cindy on the other hand, has other plans.
  • B&B: The Story of Battle of Brody & BrandyThis modern day romantic comedy starring Iza Calzado and Ian Veneracion. Brody is a charming guest staying at Brandy’s B & B. At the end of his vacation, he promises to return. And he does, except this time, it’s to open up his own B & B right across! (Premiering February 2021) 
  • The Anatomy of Loneliness – A simple guy, Mamon, has one dream – to win the heart of his muse, Nene. The series tells the story about two lonely individuals who unexpectedly find real connection amidst the very impersonal platform of social media.

Joining host MJ Marfori and Ms. Tengco for the evening’s conversation to talk more about their upcoming work with WeTV were Anatomy of Loneliness Writer / Director Pertee Briñas, and B&B: The Story of Battle of Brody & Brandy’s Writer / director Mark Reyes along with his co-producers from Sanggre Productions (who will be line producing the series) Sunshine Dizon and Karylle Yuzon. Rounding out the group was B&B’s lead actress Iza Calzado, who could not contain her excitement on being able to work not only on a romantic comedy, but alongside ian Veneracion as well.

The evening ended with a very spirited discussion during the Q&A portion of the program, as the stars, directors, producers and Ms. Tengco gamely answered questions from the press. They expressed their excitement over the upcoming show launches, especially since platforms like WeTV open up opportunities for filmmakers to tell unique stories. Aga was also quite intrigued by the premise for “Anatomy…” and was looking forward to seeing the show when it comes up. 

2021 is gearing up to be an exciting year for WeTV as they work towards delivering 20 exclusive films alongside 12 WeTV Original productions. 

To stream the very best in Asian Premium Content, just download the WeTV app from the App store and Google Play, and start watching! A monthly subscription rings in at only P59, quarterly at P159, and an annual subscription is only P599. Don’t wait, and spend some quality time with the family watching Miracle In Cell No. 7, exclusively on WeTV.

About WeTV

Tencent Video is China’s leading online video platform with over 100 million paid subscribers, and WeTV is a product launched by Tencent Video for overseas users. Since 2019, WeTV is now available in these markets: Indonesia,  Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, India, and others. WeTV is the first Chinese streaming service platform to be launched in multiple overseas regions. The platform is centred on high-quality Tencent original Chinese language content and continues to expand quality content in other Asian countries and regions.

Lyca Gairanod signs with VIVA Artists Agency

Lyca Gairanod is now part of VIVA’s roster of talents as she signed with VIVA Artists Agency.

She looks forward to working alongside other VIVA Artists, including her dearest coach from The Voice Kids Philippines, Sarah Geronimo, who convinced her to join the talent agency.

The 16-year old singer shared how close she is with her grandmother from her mother’s side. Since she was raised by her Lola, she’s been with her throughout her young career.

CinemaBravo asked her about the greatest lesson her Lola has given her. “She always tells me to persevere in order to achieve whatever I want in life. If I want it, I have to work hard for it. Reaching for a dream is never easy unless you are determined to do it. I always become emotional whenever I talk about her. It’s music to my ears when I hear that she is proud of me.“

A teary-eyed Lyca noted that perseverance has always been the key to success.

True enough, the grand champion of the first season of The Voice Kids Philippines has gone a long way already at such a young age. Now under VIVA, she expects herself to push the boundaries of her capabilities as an artist, not only as a singer but also as an actress. CinemaBravo asked her about any other path she would want to take in life.

“I want to act, I want to dance, I want to showcase my talents on avenues I might not be familiar with. If I were not in showbiz now, I would just keep on studying hard so I could fend for my family.”

Watch out for Lyca’s upcoming projects as she begins a new chapter in her life under VIVA Artists Agency.

LINEUP: QCinema Int’l Film Festival 2020

QCinema International Film Festival stages a hybrid festival with an edgy line-up for its special edition for 2020.   

Known for its well curated films in this side of Southeast Asia, QCinema Special Edition returns with a slate that will either be streamed online or physically screened with a limited audience. It will take place from November 27 to December 5, 2020.

“Like many other film festivals around the world, we’ve had to adapt to the unprecedented challenges of 2020.  Factoring in safety concerns and restrictions, we’ve decided to follow the global trend of staging a hybrid film festival,” says Ed Lejano, festival director.

The festival’s socially-distanced and by-invitation-only screenings will be held on its opening day, November 27 and on November 28 at an outdoor venue in Quezon City.  

For its opening, QCinema will screen the monochromatic version of Parasite, the 2019 winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Picture at the 2020 Oscars. The black and white version of Parasite by Bong Joon-ho was first released at the Rotterdam Film Festival last January.

QCinema will also have a ceremonial turnover of the COVID-19 assistance grant it is giving to the Inter-Guild Alliance and will announce the winners of its COVID Completion Grant at the opening. The COVID Completion Grant is for chosen independent films forced to halt production and post-production during the pandemic lockdown 

Winners of its QCShort Shorts Competition will also be announced in the said event.

On November 28, it will present to a limited number of viewers Identifying Features by Fernande Valadez and Death of Nintendo by Raya Martin.

Identifying Features won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival 2020. It also won in the same festival the best screenplay.  Death of Nintendo is the coming of age tale which had its world premiere at Berlinale 2020. 

After the screening, QCinema will host the book launch of Philippine Cinema by Gaspar Vibal and Dennis Villegas and edited by Teddy Co.

The festival’s online screening will be released nationwide through UPSTREAM, the newly launched online Transactional Video on Demand (TVOD) streaming platform. Tickets may be purchased from the country’s largest aggregator for online cinema ticketing, GMovies. Tickets are priced at 200 pesos per screening of a movie, which can be viewed within 48 hours after purchase.

Highlighting its online festival are four QCinema greats.

QCinema 2019, 2018, and 2017 best picture winners stage a comeback.  These are Cleaners by Glenn Barit; Oda sa Wala by Dwein Baltazar; and Balangiga Howling Wilderness by Khavn.  The fourth is the big winner at the recent Urian award, Babae at Baril by Rae Red. 

The program also includes special sections.

The Asian Special Edition includes the only PH entry at the 2020 Venice Film Festival and Malaysia’s entry to the 93rd Academy Awards. 

Genus, Pan by Lav Diaz is a look at how much human beings are like animals.  The film won for Lav Diaz the best director award in the 2020 Venice Film FestivalRoh is a 2019 Malaysian Malay-language indie arthouse horror film by Emir Ezwan. 

Two feature films will be shown under New Horizons, QCinema’s program that puts the spotlight on first and second-time filmmakers who are receiving accolades from the international film festival circuit.

Song Without a Name is a 2019 Peruvian drama film directed by Melina León. It was screened in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. It is also the Peruvian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards.

Rom by Tran Thanh Huy, the first Vietnamese film to receive the New Current Awards at the 24th Busan International Film Festival, is also in the New Horizons section. 

Films under QCinema’s much-lauded and much-anticipated sections are also in the line-up.

This year’s RainbowQC section includes End of the Century and Suksuk.

End of the Century is an Argentine romantic drama film, directed by Lucio Castro and released in 2019.  Suksuk is a 2019 award-winning and critically acclaimed Hong Kong drama film about two secretly homosexual married men in their twilight years.  This film by Ray Yeung premiered at the 24th Busan International Film Festival. 

Lastly, Screen International section features three films that earned widespread acclaim in different film festivals.

The first film is a Brazilian drama screened in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, Divine Love by Gabriel Mascaro. 

A 2020 Cannes Film Festival selection, True Mothers, a Japanese drama film by Naomi Kawase is also in QCinema’s Screen International.  This is Japan’s entry at the 93rd Academy Awards. 

The third, Corpus Christi is a Polish film by Mateusz Pacewicz, which premiered at the 2019 Venice Film Festival and is the Polish entry in the 92nd Academy Award.

QCinemas Special Edition 2020 will include online talks on the new filmscape and free screenings of QCinema 2016, 2017, and 2019 shorts.

The film festival is supported by Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, Film Development Council of the Philippines, Outpost, Viva Communications, Inc., Treasury Wine Estates, Beringer Wine, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Megamobile, Inquirer.net, Clickthecity.com, Cinema Bravo, Cinema Bravo PH, Film Geek Guy, Film Police Reviews, Pelikula Mania, Blog-ph.com, Lakwatsera Lovers, and WheninManila.com.

More about the festival are at qcinema.ph.

2NE1’s Minzy to launch solo career in PH via VIVA Records

K-Pop fans in the country rejoice! A true-blue Korean pop music star is launching a solo career in the Philippines soon. Said music artist is none other than Minzy of famous pop group 2NE1

A multi-platinum South Korean artist and a global K-pop sensation, Minzy’s career is astounding. Her fame started with the popular group 2NE1, a world-renown all-girl group that that also has a strong following here in the Philippines. Her eventual solo career that started with “Uno” in 2017 netted her a Billboard World Albums chart nod and peaked at the number 2 spot. This is quite the achievement, seeing as it laid further groundwork for K-Pop’s dominance in the world of pop that is still felt today. 

An electrifying performer, Minzy is considered as one of the best in K-Pop and rightly deserves the title “Queen Of Dance.” Fans of Minzy have also dubbed her a ‘dancing machine’ for her exceptional dance skills and fiery stage presence. And completing the package, Minzy is a vocal powerhouse as well. Deservedly earning the spotlight in 2NE1 as the main singer and rapper in that group. Something that she’s developed further as a solo performer. After breaking away from 2NE1 in 2016, Minzy had her single “Ninano” from her debut EP which placed at the US Billboard World Charts and there was no looking back after that. 

A popular figure in the world of South Korean music scene, Minzy is bringing her brand of pop here in Manila, starting with the upcoming local version release of “Lovely” – a song that she released early this year that features Minzy’s softer and natural side, and a much more relaxed sound than her previous all-out pop pieces.

And just to make her Philippine debut more special, “Lovely” will see Minzy singing additional choruses in Tagalog to truly give this legit K-pop track a Pinoy feel.  

Handling Minzy’s career in the Philippines are Viva Artist Agency, Open Door Artist management and SoKor’s MZ entertainment. Executives from Viva, Open Door and MZ Entertainment have mentioned that Minzy’s high profile and background make her an excellent brand ambassador. And since Viva Artist Agency is a multi-media company, the possibility of Minzy appearing on movies is not so far off. Viva’s music producing component in Viva Records has already made headway in bringing Minzy to the Pinoy audience with a local version of Minzy’s “Lovely.”

While the world is still in the midst of a raging pandemic, Minzy’s plan of visiting Manila will be put on hold for the time being. But that doesn’t mean that she won’t be communicating with the capital anytime soon. Minzy will hold a virtual press conference with Manila’s entertainment press next week where Minzy will reveal her plans of a Philippine showbiz career to the media and to send her message of love to her loyal Filipino fans. 

“Lovely” the Tagalog version will be released on digital streaming platforms on November 20. 

Netflix renews ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 3

Netflix has renewed The Umbrella Academy for a third season. The cast set to reprise their roles include Ellen Page, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Justin H. Min, Ritu Arya, and Colm Feore. 

Steve Blackman (Fargo, Altered Carbon) will return as Showrunner and Executive Producer.

Executive Producers for Season 3 alongside Blackman include Jeff F. King (EP/D), Mike Richardson (EP), Keith Goldberg (EP), Jesse McKeown (EP), Gerard Way (Co-EP), and Gabriel Bá (Co-EP).

The season three order includes 10 one-hour episodes and will be produced by UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, for Netflix.

Production will begin in February in Toronto, Canada.

Season 2 of the critically-acclaimed show premiered on July 31, 2020.

About The Umbrella Academy S2

Five warned his family (so, so many times) that using his powers to escape from Vanya’s 2019 apocalypse was risky. Well, he was right – the time jump scatters the siblings in time in and around Dallas, Texas. Over a three year period. Starting in 1960. Some, having been stuck in the past for years, have built lives and moved on, certain they’re the only ones who survived. Five is the last to land, smack dab in the middle of a nuclear doomsday, which – spoiler alert! – turns out is a result of the group’s disruption of the timeline (déjà vu, anyone?). Now the Umbrella Academy must find a way to reunite, figure out what caused doomsday, put a stop to it, and return to the present timeline to stop that other apocalypse. All while being hunted by a trio of ruthless Swedish assassins. But seriously, no pressure or anything.

About Netflix

Netflix is the world’s leading streaming entertainment service with over 195 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.

Ryza Cenon headlines ‘Bella Bandida’ serial adaptation

A new icon for women empowerment is coming to mainstream television! From the producer of astounding movies “BuyBust” and “Maria”, “Bella Bandida”, an action-drama series loosely based on the comic book by National Artist Francisco V. Coching, is set to premiere on TV5 on November 25, 2020.

Ryza Cenon portrays the role of Annabelle “Bella” Suarez, a medical doctor who aims to help improve the welfare of the people of Santiago, her hometown. Her boyfriend, town councilor Brick Ortaleza (Josef Elizalde), also intends to change the corrupt political system as he is being groomed to be the next mayor.

At present, the town of Santiago is under the governance of Timothy Gregory Ortaleza, a.k.a “Mayor Tigro” (Efren Reyes, Jr.). When Bella finds out that he is authorizing a mining operation, she bravely confronts him about it since she knows the bad effect it could bring to the town, most especially the tribe where she belongs.

But Bella ends up getting raped. The culprit is the mayor himself, along with Santiago’s chief of police, Col. Emmanuel Barbaro (Lito Pimentel), and one highly skilled assassin named El Pistulero (Rafa Siguion-Reyna). Mayor Tigro even wants her dead, but his murder attempt fails.

Bella is saved by a rebel named Chris (AJ Muhlach), but more than that, a higher power gives her a second life. May’ari, the goddess of moon and night, endows her with super powers. Bella Bandida is born.

With revenge on top of her mind, Bella Bandida hunts the people that wronged her. Chris supports her in this endeavor. But in the process of exacting her revenge, she discovers much deeper societal issues. Bella Bandida uses her powers to fight against the injustices in Santiago.

“Bella Bandida” is Ryza Cenon’s first title role. In the last four years, Ryza has portrayed strong characters such as Georgia Ferrer on “Ika-6 na Utos” (GMA-7), Aubrey Hidalgo on “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano”, and Jessie de Leon-del Fierro on “The General’s Daughter” (ABS-CBN). From Kapuso Network to Kapamilya Network, and now on Kapatid Network, Ryza is all set to make a mark as one of the few female action heroes on Philippine TV.

“Bella Bandida” also stars Sarah Jane Abad as Rhoda Velasquez, a family friend of the Ortalezas who will fall in love with Brick when Bella disappears. Ara Mina takes on an important role in Bella’s life and the town of Santiago.

Director Raffy Francisco, after enjoying a tremendous success in creative TV commercials and music videos, proudly announces on his Instagram that this is his “first foray into long-form narratives”. Co-directing with him is Temi Abad, a prolific writer and creative consultant.

Follow the story of “Bella Bandida” and see why she is not a girl to be messed with.

Oomph! TV continues successes with growing views, influencers

There is no stopping Oomph! TV, the country’s biggest Multi-Channel Network as they continue to grow in views and influencers this year!

Led by Van Del Rosario, the eldest of Viva Communications, Inc. COO and President Vincent Del Rosario, Oomph! TV has already established itself as the top online entertainment provider across all social media platforms. This is most notable on YouTube, where Oomph! TV creators has been steadily gaining views and followers in the recent months.

Oomph! TV’s Operating Head, Van Del Rosario believes Oomph! TV can provide a future with wider reach to the content creators “in terms of tapping regional and international audience and crossing over to other media (from vlog to films, series, etc.).” And all it takes is passion for content creation and that’s what Oomph! TV stands for.

Oomph! TV’s Operating Head, Van Del Rosario

Comedian Vice Ganda gained over 1 million additional subscribers after signing up with Oomph! TV last July, and now has 3.26 million subscribers to date. He also claimed the #1 spot of the “On Trending” list with his vlogs “Ang Istorya Ko Na ‘Di Niyo Alam” and “My New Valurs (Part 2)”.  

The hilarious trio of Chad Kinis, Lassy and MC Muah a.k.a the BEKS BATALLION is also making waves on YouTube, gaining more than 500K additional subscribers since April 2020, and as of to date, they now have 750K subscribers in their channel. 

Another personality steadily gaining subscribers on YouTube is The Voice Kids Philippines winner Lyca Gairanod. Just this October, Lyca gained over 150K additional subscribers, and she now has a total of 1.11 million subscribers. Her TikTok account has also been verified this October, after gaining 568.3K followers, and her account now has 3.9 million likes.

Joining the roster of big stars are Marjorie and Julia Barretto, whom both have over 20 million YouTube views combined. Marjorie started her YouTube channel last March 2020 and since then, it has already garnered a total of 8 million views. Meanwhile, Julia’s channel has a total of 12 million views, with videos having no less than 500k views. 

Need some comfort for your broken heart? Get realistic and painful “hugot” from Marcelo Santos III and Daryl Yap of Vincentiments. Looking for gaming hacks and tips? Learn how to rank up fast on your favorite video game with Eric Tai’s game highlights. Need some inspiration to power through the week? Let Sunshine Guimary brighten up your day with her one of a kind series, the No Bra Challenge. Or do you just want to stay updated with the life of your favorite celebrities? Then follow Sarah Geronimo, Donnalyn Bartolome, Yassi Pressman, Xian Lim, Andi Eigenmann, Janno Gibbs, Ryza Cenon and many more celebrities as they give you a glimpse of their life behind the limelight. All these content creators and so much more are all in Oomph! TV. 

Just like Vice Ganda, Marjorie and Julia Barretto, the Beks Battalion and Lyca Gairanod, you can be the next great content creator, as VIVA searches for the #NextBigInfluencer in the TikTokista 2.0 contest. Simply upload a 15-60 second teaser or highlight of your vlog on TikTok. It can be a skit, a song cover, make-up transformation, it can be anything! As long as it has creativity, originality, it’s engaging and has influencer potential, you could win P50,000 cash + THE ULTIMATE VLOGGER PACKAGE from VIVA Artists Agency.

For more details, simply follow @vivaartistsagency on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube. Get your creative juices pumping now!

TV5’s Onstage to premiere Katrina Velarde’s SiKat Ako concert on free TV

Get ready for another concert treat as TV5’s Onstage brings you SiKat Ako: Katrina Velarde Live in Concert on Sunday, November 8.

This is the Philippine TV premiere of Katrina Velarde’s first major solo concert which happened last February 1, 2019 at the New Frontier Theatre. She is joined by guest performers Bugoy Drilon, Daryl Ong and Michael Pangilinan also known as BuDaKhel; A.K.A JAM members Alyssa Quijano, Jhealsea Flores and Monique Lualhati; and the Asia’s Songbird Ms. Regine Velasquez.

Those who watched Katrina Velarde’s live concert can relive the amazing musical experience again, while those who will get to watch it for the first time, will be in for a great treat. 

So don’t miss this chance to watch SiKat Ako: Katrina Velarde Live in Concert on TV5 Onstage this Sunday, November 8 at 9pm. Directed by Paolo Valenciano, with the musical direction of Mon Faustino.

And keep Katrina trending with the official hashtags #KatrinaVONSTAGE and #KatrinaVSiKatAko.