American-Indian filmmaker Ben Rekhi is in town to promote his movie starring Alessandra de Rossi, about a mother whose husband is killed and must now take on the role of family breadwinner and protector.
“It’s a very human story,” Ben said. “At its most basic, it’s about the lengths to which a mother will go to protect her children.”
Aside from Alessandra, the movie has Jake Macapagal, Art Acuña, Lou Veloso, Jess Mendoza, and Angeli Bayani with Micko Laurente and Timothy Mabalot in the cast.
The Hollywood-based director reveals he cast actors that not only fit their roles but could also carry the depth of emotion. He was very impressed with everyone and singled out Alessandra, Jake, Art and Micko.
Ben lauded: “Alessandra’s talent is something I’ve never seen before. Jake, who is very well known in Hollywood for his work in ‘Metro Manila,’ brought a level of intensity that is going to surprise people. Art Acuña is also a force of nature. One of the breakout performances is Micko Laurente who plays Alessandra’s teenage son. I think he’s just going to absolutely break people’s hearts.”
Ben’s collaborators in the project include executive producer Anjay Nagpal, who served as co-executive producer of “Joker,” international cinematographer Daniella Nowitz, and award-winning Filipino production designer Ericson Navarro.
“Watch List” has made the rounds of many international film festivals, namely the Deauville American Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Bahamas International Film Festival, International Film Festival of India, Nashville Film Festival and Mill Valley Film Festival. It recently won the Most Disturbing Fiction Film Award at the 2020 Tournai Ramdam Festival in Belgium.
At these screenings, viewers were so affected and roused to tears. Ben relates his experience with a Filipina who watched at the world premiere at the Seattle Film Festival.
“She stood up after the screening and started crying. She said, ‘I grew up in these neighborhoods, and I’ve never seen them portrayed like this before. It’s so real,’” he recalled.
Ben is dedicating “Watch List” to the Filipinos in front and behind-the-scenes who helped him make the film.
“As an outsider, I worked very, very hard to tell an authentic and truthful story. It is my deepest hope that this story resonates with the Filipinos who were so gracious to us.”