Filmmaker makes 'Dagsin' to fulfill a promise

April 03, 2019

JANINE Gutierrez and Benjamin Alves, with Marita Zobel and Tommy Abuel as their older selves, star in the drama, “Dagsin” (an Ilocano word meaning: gravity), an entry in the 2016 Cinemalaya Filmfest.  It’s the directorial debut of Atom Magadia and the script was written by his own wife, Anne. It later won several awards in various international film festivals, including best narrative feature at the World’s Independent Filmfest in San Francisco, USA; best costume at the Madrid Filmfest, best cinematography at the European Filmfest in Florence, Italy.

Tommy Abuel won four best actor awards for his performance in “Dagsin”: in the Cinemalaya Filmfest, in the Los Angeles Philippine International Filmfest, in the European International Filmfest in Florence, Italy, and in the FIlm Development Council of the Philippines. “Dagsin” will now finally have a wide theatrical release in theaters nationwide on April 20, Black Saturday.  Scriptwriter Anne Prado Magadia says the movie is really apt for the Lenten Season as its story starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter Sunday.

The movie opens introducing Tommy as Justino, a former judge who is a World War II hero who survived the infamous Death March and being tortured by the Japanese. After he became a paraplegic from an ambush and the subsequent death of his wife, Marita as Corazon, he becomes very bitter and starts questioning the existence of God. The love story of the young Justino and Corazon are then told in flashbacks, with Benjamin as Justino and Janine as  Corazon, the daughter of an American soldier and his Pinay wife. Their relationship is tested through several trials. Justino was once a romantic young man and also a patriot who fought for his country. He later became an upright, very principled judge, but he no longer finds meaning in his life and wants to shoot himself.

In a pocket presscon for the wide release of “Dagsin”, Tommy Abuel and Marita Zobel attended the affair. The trophies that Tommy have won were finally handed over to him, including Marita’s award as best actress in a cameo role from the Urduja Filmfest. Marita just returned from the USA.

“My three kids now live there,” she says. “One in L.A., one in San Francisco and one in Las Vegas. Kung may offers while I’m here, I do it, like shows on GMA that always considers me for a role.”

Marita used to be one of LVN Pictures’ most popular young stars and she stars in our favorite local film of all time, “Biyaya ng Lupa”, as the daughter of Rosa Rosal and Tony Santos Sr. who was raped by Joseph de Cordova.

All in all, “Dagsin” has won a total of 18 awards from here and abroad. “My wife Anne and I are so happy for all the recognition ‘Dagsin’ has won,” says Direk Atom. “It is very uplifting for first time filmmakers like us to get validation for all the blood, sweat and tears our team has put into the film. I’ve long wanted to be a filmmaker but my dad asked me to work with him as financial analyst. We stayed in the USA for a long time and I studied in various film schools there. Then I had a stroke and I wanted to die as half of my body got paralyzed. But my wife told me she’ll help me fulfill my dream of making films if I’d recover. And I did, then my wife and I decided to return home to Manila and do our first movie, which is ‘Dagsin’. We’re now hoping that the moviegoing public will support ‘Dagsin’ and watch it when it’s shown in theaters starting April 20, mabawi man lang namin ang investment namin dito.”