Young Filipino actors Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, known as KathNiel in the Philippine entertainment industry, celebrate five solid years of partnership with a new feature film that tells of a love that remains unfinished and a life of waiting for a fresh start.
The Olivia M. Lamasan masterpiece, Barcelona: A Love Untold, brings back Bernardo and Padilla, who fans expect to deliver a more mature performance. The movie will hit UAE cinemas on September 22.
“I first worked with them in Pangako Sa ’Yo but before that I already saw them in She’s Dating the Gangster and Crazy Beautiful You,” said Lamasan in a video press conference with Dubai media.
“But the first time I worked with them was in Pangako Sa ’Yo, although I was not able to direct them there. I was one of those who helped mould the characters in that soap opera.”
The multi-awarded director confesses she regrets not directing KathNiel in Pangako Sa ‘Yo.
“It was really a regret I was not able to direct their show,” said Lamasan. “So when this project was offered to me by Malou Santos [one of Star Cinema’s executives], I readily agreed.”
In Barcelona: A Love Untold, 21-year-old Padilla plays Ely, a student taking his master’s in architecture and at the same time working as a tour guide and waiter in Barcelona. He is a man trying to move on from a past love affair.
“It was a challenging transition from She’s Dating the Gangster and Crazy Beautiful You because the past movies were light. Here we need to transition to more serious roles,” said Padilla. “It’s hard because it’s new for me and Kathryn — our voice, our actions. Inang [Lamasan’s industry nickname] was really good in how she handles us.”
Bernardo, 20, portrays Mia, who travels to Barcelona to start anew. She wants to make up for her past mistakes and prove herself worthy.
“Doing the whole film is the very challenge for me and DJ [Padilla’s nickname]. This movie should be our transition to more mature roles — we have so many mannerisms, there were a lot of corrections,” said Bernardo. “We’re very happy because we learnt a lot from Inang and everyone from the set. When you watch the movie, you will see the transformation and maturity.”
According to Lamasan, the two leads have transcended from teen stars to serious actors. “The success of every actor-director relationship and their success was really dependent on their openness, their commitment and their trust. [I told them to] trust in me and trust in themselves that they would deliver the roles.”
The story is inspired by the church of Sagrada Familia, which was designed by architect Antoni Gaudi as the people’s apology to God, but has remained unfinished because of his death in 1926.
“The lesson from the character of Ely is forgiveness. For you to love, you need to forgive and vice versa,” said Padilla.
Bernardo adds: “The whole movie is about forgiveness. For Mia, it’s forgiveness to herself and acceptance. Mia is looking for a second chance, her whole life she’s blaming herself in everything. Her experiences in Barcelona will lead her to forgive herself first before she can love others.”
Lamasan said the movie encourages soul-searching. “The movie allows us to introspect. The biggest question that the movie poses is do you have the courage to face yourself with all honesty? And after doing so, do you have the compassion to forgive and love yourself despite and in spite of?”
In the movie, Mia and Ely travel through their individual struggles until they find themselves falling for each other. The story details a budding romance until Mia realises that Ely has yet to move on from his past.
“Mia is the representation of the millennials now — her frustrations, how she hides her feelings,” said Bernardo. “I’ll miss the character of Mia after doing the movie because I’m so attached to the role. When you see Mia in the movie, she really represents the youth now.”
Lamasan adds: “The millennials today are driven, creative, very passionate and hungry for achievements and recognition. So that’s the character that Kathryn has in this film.”
“While Daniel’s character here as Ely is the representation of the youth who are in abroad now. Those OFWs [Overseas Filipino Workers] who will work for the betterment of their families in the Philippines.”
On the other hand, Padilla sees several similarities with Ely. “First is the love I have for my family, my love for my mother. How I work hard for my family. How I love deeply. Just like Ely, I’m simple and driven.”
Bernardo and Padilla say the movie is not only a transition in the roles they play, but also a way to solidify their tandem.
“I know Kathryn so well,” said Padilla. “In this movie we bonded more — we are much stronger. Doing this movie, we really needed to be team. You need to support each other — that’s the only way. That’s also the reason why we reached five years.”
Bernardo adds: “In this project, I really discovered how DJ matured. The five years helped us a lot in our teenage years — I saw how much he has grown and matured. I’m so proud on his performance how he handled himself on cam and off cam.”
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Barcelona: A Love Untold releases in the UAE on September 22.