By Marjorie Gorospe
QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA– “Some people run away from their problems. She ran to fix them.” This is the tagline and essentially the gist of the independent film “Thelma” by Paul Soriano.
Starring Maja Salvador, the full-length feature is a story about a stubborn girl named Thelma who chose to run to correct her past mistakes, not by running away but by literally using her athletic skills on the track field.
Thelma likes running as a hobby along with her younger sister Hannah (played Eliza Pineda). The sisters bond by running in the fields of Ilocos Norte and even connive on doing silly things that would make their parents, played by Tetchie Agbayani and John Arcilla, disappointed.
Thelma wanted to quit school and just have a laid-back life until her sister had an accident that would require an expensive operation which they can’t afford and would mean the end the days of their running together on the fields.
Determined to help her sister, Thelma was finally convinced to join the school team and start earning money from different marathons and from her allowance as a varsity player.
Along the way, Thelma realizes that the skill alone is not enough to reach her goals or reach every finish line. She soon realized that to be the best, she would have to have emotional strength, focus and determination. These are the things that Thelma learned along the way in the game of life.
Thelma gives justice to its Greek origin “Thel-ma”, which means “will” or “volition.” The lead character may still have many things to accomplish, but her will in helping her family from poverty keeps her strong in every race she has yet to face.
The film, according to Soriano, is inspired by stories of real athletes, discovered from the provinces, who are driven by their selfless ambition in bringing honor and pride not only to their family but also to their country despite the personal burdens they carry.
The film also features Jason Abalos as Thelma’s love interest and legendary athlete and South East Asia Games gold medalist Elma Muros, who personally trained Salvador as a runner both on and off screen.
We had the opportunity to watch the film during the premier night and Salvador’s portrayal of an athlete is something to watch for as she explored a new character where she literally ran barefoot on the rocky hills and road.
Aside from the story line, the film also captures the beauty of Ilocos with the director’s cinematic shots and art direction.
The film’s nationwide screening is on September 7. “Thelma” will also be shown at the 31st Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) on October 20.
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