Atom Araullo Beef is “No Longer an Issue” for Director Mike de Leon
Last week, shortly before Mike de Leon’s Citizen Jake saw its nationwide theatrical release, the famously outspoken director took to the film’s Facebook page to air some thoughts about his lead actor, Atom Araullo. In a long and since-deleted post, De Leon said that Araullo “disappointed” him; “not as an actor but as a person,” raising issues with Araullo’s brand of journalism and his convictions.
“Atom’s journalism was not exactly the kind of journalism I had in mind,” wrote De Leon. “It’s not the gritty kind but more of the celebrity-centered schlock that sometimes verges on entertainment, even showbiz. Looking back, I can see why he wanted to become a movie actor. Perhaps the journalist was really a closet movie star.”
The director did somehow commend the journalist-turned-actor’s performance as the titular Jake, albeit sparingly. “There were scenes where he acted unevenly but there were also scenes, many of them major, where he was terrific. Perfect for the role of Jake, the self-absorbed millennial,” he wrote.
De Leon also acknowledged the significance of Araullo’s “substantial” role in the production. “Even if Citizen Jake is my most personal film, sometimes I feel it’s a film Atom and myself made together, through thick and thin, through upheaval after upheaval and unfortunately there were many,” he said, before continuing to imply a rift. “But I hoped that in the end, we would still share the same convictions we started off with. Alas, that was not to be.” De Leon was cryptic about this part, only adding that, “Now I find myself alone in speaking for the film, defending the film against those who would exploit it for political mileage and those who would wish it harm, two types of people of basically the same mold.”
Ultimately, the filmmaker said that he believes he and Araullo “are both relieved to close the book on this collaboration and finally get out of each other’s lives,” and that “What is important in the unique world of cinema is that Citizen Jake has now acquired a life of its own, separate from us.”
The Facebook post was deleted on Friday, and Araullo has declined requests for comment from several news outlets. He told CNN Philippines, “It’s best not to comment at this time, it might distract from the film."
For his part, De Leon wants to put the issue to rest, also preferring that people focus on the film itself. When Esquire reached out to him for comment, he said: “For me this is no longer an issue. It’s not even interesting any more. I’m just glad that it’s the film that is resonating with most people who’ve seen it and not that other issue. That alone would make a film director like me happy.”
Fair point. Any publicized behind-the-scenes conflicts will only marginally help Citizen Jake by increasing public awareness. A film like this—that is, an important film about the vicious cycles that perpetually plague the Filipino body politic— must be be discussed for its substance, rather than gossiped about. So go out and see it while you still can.
As of Monday, May 28, Citizen Jake is still showing in the following theaters: Ayala Malls Cloverleaf Cinema, Black Maria Cinema, Century City Mall Cinema, Commercenter Cinemas, Eastwood Citywalk Cinema, Evia Lifestyle Center Cinema, Festival Cinema, Gateway Cineplex, Glorietta 4 Cinema, Greenhills Promenade Cinema, Power Plant Cinema, Robinsons Galleria Cinema, Robinsons Manila Cinema, SM City Fairview Cinema, SM City Manila Cinema, SM City Marikina Digital Theater, SM City North EDSA Cinema, SM City Sta. Mesa Cinema, SM Megamall Cinema, SM San Lazaro Cinema, Santolan Town Plaza Power Plant Cinema, Starmall Alabang Cinema, Starmall EDSA-Shaw Cinema, Starmall EDSA-Shaw Cinema, TriNoma Cinema, Vista Mall Las Piñas Cinema, Vista Mall Taguig Cinema.