Two years after the box-office and critical success of “Heneral Luna’’, director Jerrold Tarog is back with a shocking new film. The psychosexual thriller, “Bliss”, is Tarog’s tenth full-length film. And already, it’s becoming his most controversial project to date.
“Bliss” tells the story of Jane Ciego (Iza Calzado). Jane entered showbiz at a young age. Though equally popular and successful, Jane, now in her 30’s, has become tired of the usual projects she’s been getting. She decides to produce her own film to win some respect in the industry. But things do not go as planned. A terrible accident on the set of her dream project leaves her temporary crippled, trapped in a house filled with bizarre phenomena and under the care of her unfeeling husband and a strange nurse. With the horrors and madness escalating each day, Jane’s simple dream becomes an endless nightmare.
The film had its world premiere at the Osaka Asian Film Festival last March, earning rave reviews from festival critics and audiences. Calzado also bagged the coveted Yakushi Pearl Award for Best Performer for her outstanding performance—the first international award for the versatile actress.
“Bliss”, however, made headlines after the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) gave the film an “X” rating during its first review, potentially banning the film from any commercial public screenings. The director and producers of “Bliss” immediately submitted an appeal for reconsideration. After a second review, the film has now been reclassified to “R-18” rating.
Tarog admits that the initial “X” rating given by the MTRCB took him by surprise. While “Bliss” contained a lot of mature content: sexual acts, nudity, and strong adult themes and language, the director strongly believes that the Filipino audience is more than capable handling a film like “Bliss”.
“One of the objectives of the film is to present something na hindi pa nagagawa in local cinema. Shocking and disturbing siya in a way. But I’m confident that [the audience is] ready,” Tarog shares. “When we had the free screening in UP Cine Adarna, nagpa survey kami. They were asked what rating they would give ‘Bliss’. Out of 770 people, roughly 500 voted for R-18 and almost 200 voted for R-16.”
Despite the controversy, Tarog remains optimistic. He is already looking forward to the opinions and conversations the movie will create.
“I try to push boundaries. As an artist, it’s important to keep challenging myself and the audience,” he says. “We tried to do something different for ‘Bliss’ and we hope the audience will appreciate what we’re trying to achieve.”
“Bliss” stars Iza Calzado, Ian Veneracion, TJ Trinidad, Adrienne Vergara, Michael de Mesa, Shamaine Buencamino, Audie Gemora, and Stephanie Sol.
“Bliss” is produced by TBA (Tuko Film Productions, Buchi Boy Entertainment, and Artikulo Uno Production) and is distributed by Quantum Films.
Catch “Bliss” uncut and uncensored as it opens in cinemas nationwide on May 10.