Director Ron Morales, whose previous film, Santa Mesa, debuted at Reel Asian in 2009, represents one in an increasing line of Asian American directors choosing to make films in Asia. Transplanting familiar American genres onto new and exciting locations for a broad audience, Morales returns to Reel Asian with this thrilling noir that puts an average man in extraordinary and desperate situations.
Marlon Villar is a pious family man who minds his own business, takes care of his daughter Elvie and visits his bed-ridden wife at the hospital every night. He holds down a day job as a chauffeur for a powerful politician named Chango. Marlon’s world rips apart one day when he becomes a target of a botched kidnapping and ransom plot against Chango and his daughter is kidnapped instead of Chango’s. As the sole witness, Marlon becomes tangled between the kidnappers and Chango, and must traverse Manila’s seedy underground networks of corruption, prostitution and murder in order to get his daughter back before it is too late.
Morales’ well-researched film takes us to truly unseemly places, daring to push the limits of where we are willing to let our imagination roam. Yet his intention is never to titillate; instead, he draws us into Marlon’s spiraling desperation. An audience favourite at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, where it premiered, Graceland asks us, how far would we go to save those we love?
Director/ Writer: Ron Morales
Producers: Rebecca Lundgren, Sam Rider
Cinematographer: Sung Rae Cho
Editors: James Lesage, Ron Morales, Jorge Olortegui
Sound: Steve “Major” Giammaria
Music: Adam Schoenberg and Steven Schoenberg
Cast: Arnold Reyes, Menggie Cobarrubias, Dido De Le Paz
Having worked in the film industry for more than a decade, Ron Morales has found his voice as a director by blending his love for exciting and unique narratives with an emphasis on expressing well-rounded and naturalistic characters. After receiving a degree in photography from Parson School of Design, Morales continued on to New York University and graduated with a BFA in Film. At the age of 29, Morales directed his award-winning debut feature film, Santa Mesa (starring Oscar-winner Melissa Leo), and has gone on to create a number of short films, commercials, and music videos. Graceland is his second feature film.
Official Selection–Tribeca Film Festival 2012
Official Selection–Montreal Fantasia Film Festival 2012
Official Selection–Fantastic Fest Austin 2012