Meeting ace filmmaker Phil Giordano for the first time is a congenial experience. Erase the preconceived notions that this American Italian who loved The Godfather (one of his all-time film favorites) is any way like Don Vito Corleone, portrayed to perfection by the late, great Marlon Brando, or the recent Italian incarnations in The Sopranos or Roma.
Amiable, with a disarming smile, and devoid of artifice and superficiality, this Master’s Degree in Film holder from the prestigious New York University Tisch School of the Arts, tells you straight why he loves anything and everything about the cinematic arts.
“I am firm believer that a film can change one’s life,” begins Giordano. “Whether as a spectator or as a filmmaker, from whatever is seen on the silver screen, it is some sort of seduction. It beguiles, intrigues, and stirs many of your emotions.”
“As an audience, we all know that cinema offers a different perspective and take on life. As a filmmaker, the task and responsibility become daunting and exhilarating because you are a creator that gives insights to situations and events, and breathes life to characters and a whole new world and experience,” he carries on.
For Giordano, the films that stirred his soul and made him realize the power of cinema are David Fincher’s Fight Club and Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre.
“I am drawn to motion pictures that focus on manhood and masculinity. Fincher’s Fight Club was an exhausting and gritty exploration of what makes a man. That manhood goes beyond the present templates in contemporary society.
Fukunaga’s film was a formative one for me because it showed the scale and the stakes, terrors, and thrills of being inthe so-called underworld. These two films show that life has a bigger picture that at times, it only through films that point us to the realities that make us look the other way,” he explains.
This New Yorker who now has a decade-old love affair in Manila is here for the longest haul because of the artistic and creative people he’s met along the way.
“Your culture, the people, the places, the layout of the urban dwellings and the landscape in the provinces, all that you have here, is so worthy to be, and immortalized in a film,” he said.
The godimento della vita e dei suoi numerosi orrori are the most essential elements in his first movie Pusoy, with Baron Geisler, Janelle Tee, Angeli Khang, and Vince Rillon who comprise a group of card hustlers who play with life and lust.
Giordano describes Geisler as a raw and explosive actor. In the film, he leads this so-called card hustling family and he has insatiable cravings for money, women, and power.
“Baron gave it gravitas and vulnerability. I liken him to a wolf, predatory yet loving of his pack. Vince matches Baron perfectly,” the director enthuses.“He has a family that he loves the most and a surrogate family that he is tight with. His choices and dilemmas make you want to embrace and root for him,”
To the female leads, Giordano points out: “They are rivals. Sandra, the character of Janelle is like the original queen bee Then Kang enters their crew and it causes a schism. She brings more money and cunning and devious are adjectives that suit her character Mica. She knew how to brew a tempest and it makes Janelle insecure and jealous.”
“The movie plays on the topics of loyalty and betrayal,” the director declares. “I feel that being in situations wherein these two are ingredients, brings out the rawest of emotions and makes a character have a showdown with himself, his morals, and what is most valuable to him. Change is always happening. Nothing is static and in the world of Geisler and Rillon, as Rodolfo and Rogelio, events and things within the spheres of loyalty and betrayal shift all the time. True allegiance is to one’s self and to what a person considers truly dear.”
“Yes, there is a lot of action, gambling, sex, violent stuff in Pusoy but there are moments in the film that one can take a break, breath, and see the humanity of these flawed and scarred characters.”
Pusoy begins its screening on Vivamax on May 27.