Lemuel Lorca knew he wanted to become a filmmaker as early as a middle-schooler. After graduating in college in 2001, Lorca somehow drifted to finding his path, following the voice that would make his dream a reality. He was resigned to the fact that having no industry connections it was impossible to even get in. Four more years of pining away and launching failed attempts at securing at least of a real occupation that his parents would be proud, Lorca was ready to give up and move on and that cinematic dream was about to be forgotten completely. When finally that one chance came knocking at his door, he regained his composure and defied the odds.
Looking back, Lorca started by writing in a magazine show, which he himself eventually directed. When he was finally given the opportunity to direct a feature film, Lorca thought it was going to be his first and last. The film was BOLA, a gay-themed film that like others at the time took advantage of the boom in the niche industry of local LGBT films. Surprisingly, it was well-received and perhaps the last hit of the subgenre to date. Lorca said doing Bola was just testing the waters, but even on his first attempt he already knew that telling honest stories is king. For this pride of Mauban, Quezon; LGBT stories, are human stories just like others that are worth telling. Lorca expressed his sincerity in not putting a label on films he make, “I just have to be conscious and sensitive with every story I tell.” Like his main character, the one that dreams of becoming a professional basketball player but couldn’t even make himself to college, Lorca said all dreams should be respected – may it be good or bad, joyful or sad – that’s the only way he can make films out of these stories with honesty and integrity.
True to form, Lorca’s films from Bola and the next four that followed are story films bridled by simplicity yet with unmitigated social consciousness. In MAUBAN: RESIKO, Lorca takes a hit on traditional feasts that are subtly targeted by abuse and corruption. Even as hushing persists that he immensely benefitted from only directing films written by literary scholars, Lorca’s adeptness in translating good scripts to film is unquestionably visible. Having been trained at the Mowelfund Film Institute, Lorca’s cinematic skills are honed further by his lack of pretense to create beyond what is real and logical in excuse of artistic excesses. Lorca attested that his humble upbringing in a small unassuming southern town made his goals and visions unalloyed – simple stories are more beautifully told when executed as purely. He is very much existentially aware of the complexities of human emotions, and as relating to the Filipino experience, we just have to be sentient enough to recognize that in every sadness or happiness – there is always an “in-between” that makes us more accepting of silly but nuanced things that are often presented as mixed variations of everything. Such postulation brings about his unifying vision as a filmmaker to a potent core. This is why NED’S PROJECT and WATER LEMON, both situated in his provincial home, are amazingly bittersweet yet there’s hope in every earned laughter. This is the main reason we believe these two films, albeit very intimate to a fault, are cinematic gems that Lorca contributed to the treasures of world cinema. Everything Lorca said he is, and the stories collected near and far – are basically everything seen and heard when one gets acquainted with him. If you go to his hometown and look around, even in the middle of the night, you will see all the characters in their places and the stories that connect them as reminiscent and carefully recorded as in his filmic mind. Perhaps, the only way a filmmaker as a storyteller becomes authentic is when one archives every nuance and every detail of their narrative from actually living it. Lorca said that when directing from a script, unless he immerses himself to become every character he creates, he can never see them being captured as truthfully on screen.
His latest film, ECHORSIS, now being shown in cinemas nationwide was created out of drinking sessions while preparing to film his Cinemalaya entry, INTOY SYOKOY NG KALYE MARINO in 2012. Each time he remembers the “gay devil possessing a human body” he cracks in hilarity. When it was written by award-winning writer Jerry Gracio, Lorca responded positively about the profundity of the story that it had masterfully become. More than being uproariously funny, he said what attracted him the most is its overall insight that is quite deficient in most comedies being churned out today in local cinemas. Lorca added that one can only expect a deeper understanding of what life, love, sacrifices, and happiness could be most meaningfully about in his film.
Echorsis, in fact, struggled with distribution before finally hitting an exhibition deal. Almost neck-deep in production and personal expenses, Lorca intimated that more than professional success, he also wishes to earn enough to gather more stability and continue what he loves doing best. And every time he goes home to his beloved town, there is that humbling exhaustion that would arrest him for months before finally moving on to the next, which attests to the unwavering dedication and hard work he put to his craft. Still early in his career, he is slowly establishing an honorable reputation as a filmmaker; Lorca said that his motivation, more than reaping awards is receiving the reactions of audiences first-hand when he watches his films with them. For him, true success as a filmmaker is only experienced when he gathers as many people to see the films they painstakingly produced.
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