FFE Magazine

Philippines: World Famous Dancing Cebu Inmates Now Real Actors

From viral video stars, the world-famous Cebu Dancing Inmates are crossing over to the big screen.

After more than three years of production work, Marnie Manicad and Cesar Apolinario are ready to unveil “Dance of the Steel Bars,” which stars Irish actor Patrick Bergin (who costarred with Julia

Manicad, a documentarian, told the Inquirer that she and Apolinario, a GMA 7 news reporter, thought of making a feature film on the Cebu Dancing Inmates in 2007, after working on “Banal.”

“At that time, the inmates’ ‘Thriller’ dance video was the most viewed on YouTube,” recounted Manicad.

The Cebu inmates were also featured in the short documentary, “Dancing for Discipline,” directed by Pepe Diokno.

inmates at Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center,” Manicad said.

PATRICK Bergin and Dingdong Dantes are said to have immersed themselves in their roles.

have to be told … stories that reflect the Filipino culture and character. We find the best things in the worst situations. The whole world should witness that.”


She has nothing but praise for them, though. “They helped us overcome the challenges of filming. They were disciplined. It felt like working in an ordinary location. The next hurdle was leaving

They only had seven days to shoot. Confronted by this and other limitations, her TV and documentary experience—“budgeting time, focusing on essentials”—came in handy. (Manicad’s most

Working with professionals like Bergin, Dantes and Paras made the process easier, too, she said. “Patrick was awesome. He always came to the set prepared. He kept his character, a charity

Dantes, whom she worked with in the GMA 7 series “Atlantika” in 2006, had so much faith in the material that “he managed to squeeze it into his busy schedule.” Manicad added, “Dong is a

Playing the film’s gay choreographer, Paras was a standout, she said. “Joey was very enthusiastic and delivered every line straight from the heart.”

Angeles, Vancouver, Singapore, Hong Kong, Doha, Dubai and New York.”

Base” and “Turbo Zone.” Also on her drawing board are another NatGeo docu and a full-length film with a well-known international production company.

Photos Courtesy of Portfolio Films



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