Filipino actress Mercedes Cabral, best-known for her work in independent films, is earning rave reviews for her performance in British installation artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien’s latest film / installation, “Playtime.”
Julien describes Cabral, who is part of a cast which includes international actors Maggie Cheung, Colin Salmon, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson, Simon de Pury and Hollywood star James Franco, as the “best young actress I’ve worked with.”
At a special screening of the film held last week at at the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde in Malate, Manila, Julien told reporters that he net Mercedes only when shooting for the movie had already started.
“We shot eight to 10 hours every day. Isaac was very specific about what he wanted from his actors. How fast I should walk, how I should wipe a tabletop. If he didn’t like what I did, he made me do it again and again until he was satisfied. He also said I should be able to convey the right emotion without words,” Cabral said.
“Isaac is very strict about imagery, since this project is not a narrative. It’s an ‘installation,’ for a split-screen. This is the first time I saw it on a single screen; it actually works,” she added.
Cabral recounted that in December 2013, a three-minute segment of the film – particularly, a segment she was in – was showcased by Metro Pictures Gallery on 17 electronic billboards in Times Square, New York.
“I saw a video of it on YouTube. I was really surprised. I was like, my face all over Times Square? This can’t be real. My parents are very proud. I’m happy that my mom saw the whole of it today,” Cabral gushed.
“Playtime” was filmed in three cities; namely, London, Reykjavik and Dubai. Based on the life of Liza Perez, a former overseas Filipino worker in Dubai, the movie is part-documentary and part-fiction. Perez now works with Julien, and has been friends with the filmmaker for over a decade.
Cabral, who portrays a house worker in the movie, flew to Dubai in 2013 to work on the project.
Film buffs can enjoy more the actress’ work in the Jay Abello movie “Red,” at the Cinema One Digital Film Festival, beginning November 9. Cabral is also a semi-regular cast member in the soap “Hiram na Alaala” on GMA 7.