Biopic Father Suarez, The Healing Priest centers on the struggles and triumphs of a young man who eventually becomes a priest. Directed by Joven Tan, screenplay by Bernard Canabral with Saranggola Media Productions as its producer, the film is one of the intriguing stories included in the catalogue of Metro Manila Film Festival this year.
For the director, Father Fernando Suarez’s story has deeper layers that the audience needs to see. He dissects the life story of the priest as someone who is compassionate, kind, and full of wisdom.
“I have heard a lot of things about Father Suarez from way back, so when I got to read the script, I was intrigued and wanted to work on this material. During our meets, prior to and during the filming I remember him to be kind, straightforward, and sincere,” Tan shared.
Seasoned actor John Arcilla who portrays Father Suarez on-screen admitted that he was thinking of backing out from the project until he met with the famed priest and discovered the man behind the controversial news stories.
“I initially said yes to the project when they told me that I’m going to play a priest. It’s something close to my heart growing up in a family whose members are related to the church,” he told Manila Standard Entertainment.
“Whatever apprehensions I had before filming when I conversed with him personally during the initial story conference, I discovered that he is a simple normal person telling stories, not the priest using his magical words and charisma. The film is about his total trust in God that He will not be forsaken,” the actor carried on.
Arcilla said that the sincerity that he had witnessed from Father Suarez was enough to embrace the project completely.
“Then I just found out that he’s a fan of Heneral Luna and he personally handpicked me to play the role. While filming, I decided not to try to mimic or copy him. I just took his essence and some of his demeanor but what I totally embraced was his unwavering trust in the Almighty,” Arcilla stated.
With nine other films in this year’s MMFF, Arcilla believes that the strength of the film lies in its theme, which is very relevant to the current situation the entire nation is currently in.
“People are getting anxious and sick, people are getting sad and losing hopes. The majority are getting disoriented and some people are not even aware that they are. It is time to introspect and listen to the stillness in our core as humans,” Arcilla said.
“This film will remind us that we can find God in our stillness, that we can heal each other from all our hatred and heartaches if we just trust and have faith,” he ended.
Also part of the film are Dante Rivero, Troy Montero, Mario Mortel, Alice Dixon, Rosanna Roces, Jairus Aquino, Rita Avila, Richard Quan, Gina Pareno, and Jin Macapagal as the young Fr. Suarez.
Father Suarez, The Healing Priest is available for viewing on Dec. 25 onwards on Upstream.ph.