MANILA, PHILIPPINES, APRIL 5, 2021 — Filipino actors Soliman Cruz, Bart Guingona, and Noel Sto. Domingo are currently in Europe for the filming of “To The North,” a psychological thriller drama written and directed by Mihai Mincan of Romania.
“To The North,” a co-production of Romania with France, Greece, Bulgaria, and Czech Republic, is about a religious Filipino sailor on a transatlantic ship who discovers a Romanian stowaway onboard.
Cruz plays the lead role of Joel, the religious Filipino sailor, while German-Romanian Niko Becker portrays the stowaway named Dumitru. Joel, after seeing that Dumitru has a Bible with him, begins to play a dangerous game involving his crew, his faith in God, as well as an innocent man’s life.
According to Ştefan Dobroiu of Cineuropa, Guingona and Sto. Domingo are portraying significant roles. Romanian production company deFilm lists Olivier Chen and Olivier Ho Hio Hen as other members of the cast.
Photo of Soliman Cruz, Bart Guingona, and Noel Sto. Domingo. Photo courtesy of Ferdy Lapuz
Despite the many travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cruz, Guingona, and Sto. Domingo were able to go overseas where filming will be held in Romania and Greece.
The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) assisted the Filipino actors with their application for visas at the Embassy of Greece in the Philippines for their passage to Romania.
“All the very best to Soliman Cruz, Bart Guingona, and Noel Sto. Domingo, our latest Philippine representatives in international cinema. Their laudable artistry and notable work ethic will surely shine on the global stage,” remarked FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño.
Cruz has three Best Supporting Actor trophies to his name from the Gawad Urian for “Himpapawid,” Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) Luna Awards for “Iska,” and Golden Screen Awards for “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros.”
Among the accolades of Actor’s Actors, Inc. founder and veteran stage actor, producer, and director Guingona are the Philippine Legitimate Stage Artists Group, Inc. (Philstage) Gawad Buhay Awards for Outstanding Male Lead Performance in a Play for “Red” and Best Director for “The Normal Heart.”
Sto. Domingo is a Gawad Urian nominee for Best Supporting Actor for “Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon” by Lav Diaz. All three actors have been directed by Diaz as Cruz was part of “Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan” while Guingona was in “Hesus, Rebolusyonaryo” and “Lahi, Hayop (Genus Pan).”
Producer Ferdy Lapuz, the manager of Cruz, expressed gratitude for the opportunity given to the three Filipino actors. “Thank you to the casting director Florentina Bratfanof and production coordinator Ramona Grama,” he said in a Facebook post.
“To The North” is touted as one of Romania’s largest co-productions to date. Produced by deFilm (Romania) with Radu Stancu as producer, it is in co-production with Remora Films (France), StudioBauhaus (Greece), Screening Emotions (Bulgaria), and Background Films (Czech Republic) with the support of the Romanian National Film Center, Bulgarian National Film Center, Greek National Film Center, Czech National Film Center, ARTE/Cofinova, ERT Greek Broadcaster, and the Creative Europe Media Programme of the European Union.
This is the fiction debut of documentary filmmaker Mincan, who shared with Cineuropa that “To The North” is inspired by two real-life situations: a 1996 event involving an Eastern European stowaway and Filipino sailor on a Taiwanese container ship and the experience of the director’s cousin of being illegally sailed to the United States.
Pre-production and production for “To The North” are taking place this year while post-production is expected to wrap up in 2022. It is slated for release in 2022 with French company Luxbox taking care of international sales.
Cover photo is from Screening Emotions
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