ANG AKTOR (The Actor) : a film by Dante Perez
Documentary in principle, the film operates on an offbeat mechanism of oral and metaphorical history of Soliman Cruz. The complex figure and humanity of Soliman as an 'artist of the people' is sought to be unraveled in this film as it encounters a fragmented but peculiar story of his life and practice as a great actor. It is composed of emotional narratives and memories of his misdemeanors and lunacy, his visions and contradictions, and the push-and-pull of his passion and indifference to the world as delivered by his peers, enemies and followers of his career.
Soliman Cruz, one of the most sought after and acclaimed actor in Philippine theater, cinema and television, has been acting for nearly three decades. Consequently, he has been imprinting his legacy of committed acting in Philippine independent and mainstream circles despite his notoriety. While his impromptu and radical art performances in uncontrolled spaces and hostile environments are mostly unsupported by institutions, memories of these incidents persist in the cultural community.
On the other hand, many would perceive Soliman as a lunatic who has been in and out of rehabilitation centers and jail for his drug addiction, public disturbances and other involvement with the underground - often criminal - strata of Philippine society. Definitely uncalled-for for such a well-respected personality, Soliman is usually an ubiquitous figure drifting aimlessly in the city - sleeping on pavements and wandering in dangerous territories. A generally intelligent and able person and a loving father, he chooses to live a life of a derelict who has abandoned things and people dear to him to a quest of a vast unknown.
ang aktor is not a tribute to the actor but an illumination of what makes up a complex man.
A straight biography is inadequate to piece together the emotional, physical, mental and metaphysical constitution of a person like Soliman Cruz. This film aims to look at him in a framework as layered and loaded as Soliman, and is composed of interviews with people who have worked with him - co-actors, film directors, the theater and Performance Art circles - family, friends, enemies, gangster and even ordinary men on the street whose lives he has touched. The film begs the question of the validity of his eccentric practice and the credibility of his madness versus possible influences - such as substance abuse and mental health - that shaped the enigma that is his life.
In this film, I set myself to the goal of interviewing as many people as a normal film running time could afford. I managed to acquire ample opinions and strong testimonies. And yet no one seemed to give a concrete conclusion about Soliman's character. As I immerse myself deeper into his life, looking for answers, I find myself entangled to the complexity of this project that constantly gave birth to more questions more than resolution. I was driven to question my own responsibility in understanding what Soliman is really telling us, at the same time I wonder if I should let him be. I decided to end this film halfway otherwise - open-ended - and managed to just teeter back to sanity.