RAYMOND Bagatsing feels so honored to play Pres. Manuel Luis Quezon in “Quezon’s Game”, a joint venture of Star Cinema, ABS-CBN’s steaming service iWant and Kinetek Productions. Set in 1938, while the world is at the brink of war with Hitler, it shows then Pres. Quezon collaborating with future U.S. Pres. Dwight Eisenhower and other notable figures to rescue more than a thousand persecuted Jewish refugees from the ghettos of Austria and Germany to avoid what would be the devastating Holocaust.
At first, they thought it’s gonna be easy, but it turns out they’ll be faced with so many daunting obstacles. Add to this the fact that Quezon is suffering from tuberculosis, which ultimately caused his death. It’s said that in his final days, Quezon asked the question: “Could I have done more?”, concerning this little known but surely one of the most uplifting stories in Philippine history.
The movie was made last year and has since won several international awards. From the WorldFest Houston International Filmfest on April 13, it won best foreign film and three Gold Remi Awards for best art design, best producers and the plum best director for Matthew Rosen, an award-winning TV commercial and music video director.
Earlier in January, it also won awards from the Cinema Worldfest Awards in Ottawa, Canada, including awards for excellence for Raymond Bagatsing as lead actor and Rachel Alejandro as lead actress as his wife, Aurora. Supporting them in the movie are international actors David Bianco, Paul Holme, Billy Ray Gallion and James Paolelli, plus Audie Gemora as Vice Pres. Sergio Osmena.
So how did Raymond prepare for his role as Pres. Quezon? “I auditioned for the role and after I was informed that they’re getting me, I researched on Pres. Quezon, read books about him and watched, studied his speeches that are available on Youtube, observing him and absorbing him,” he says. “I had about a month to prepare before shooting started. Quezon is a very lively speaker, he really gives his heart and his whole body when he speaks. He smiles, he jokes. No doubt he’s great man, but we also showed that he loves to drink scotch, he’s a good poker player, he smokes tobacco, in other words, taong-tao rin siya, But he really works hard and is very serious with his job as a president. I’m really thankful to be given the opportunity to portray him on the big screen.”
Local viewers will now have the chance to see this prestigious historical film when it is released in our theaters nationwide on May 29.