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First Love and Heartbreak

Director Joel Ferrer captures the beauty of love and heartbreak in Elise


By Rica Arevalo

Director Joel Ferrer has scored high among film critics for his newest romantic “dramedy” film Elise, produced by Regal Entertainment, Inc. The Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) gave it an “A” grade.


Director Joel Ferrer


The story centers on Bert (Enchong Dee), who confesses the ups and downs of his relationship with his first love Elise (Janine Gutierrez) like it is happening ATM (at the moment). From being childhood friends, when Elise would call him “syota” before his puberty to accidentally meeting in a college underground assembly, up to being successful ice cream entrepreneurs and lovers.


Child actress Miel Espinosa accompanies him on his roller coaster ride to his one great love in atypical storytelling.

After filming “Baka Siguro Yata” (2015 Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival Audience Award), Ferrer resurrected the screenplay of For Elise he wrote in 2014 and got Miko Livelo to co-write the updated version.

The result: A heartfelt and beautiful pain of being with your first love.

What was his inspiration? “Well, hindi na siguro bago yung ma inlove ka with someone, and it became the biggest driving force for me to create the idea for Elise,” he beams.

“This film is a love letter to someone I felt a deep connection with,” said this APFI (Asia Pacific Film Institute) graduate. “I’ve written it not just to be a film, but with deep emotional purpose. It’s my personal time capsule, to a time I got my heart broken, fell in love, got hurt, and again, fell in love.”

Comedy is Ferrer’s main weapon to combat melodrama. He created a rich story with detailed expertise to make Bert’s life fascinating and real.

He credits Erik Matti as his mentor. “I’ve been an apprentice to him before I even wrote this film and I learned tons from him,” muses this Tanods series actor. “I wouldn’t be where I am today and wouldn’t be making these films if it weren’t for him.”

Dee and Gutierrez were a revelation in this film. Both looked natural, at ease with each other. “They made me look good, to be honest. They deserve so much praise for the work they put in on this project,” remarks the 2015 Manila Film Financing HUBO Pitch awardee. “Very collaborative and they all are smart actors, so it just molded organically.”

What is his advice for couples dealing with heartaches and for the ones who never forget their first love? “Accept it,” he muses. “And this is true, falling in love the first time is the first time you will feel alive, and getting your heart broken will help you grow up.”

Elise is now showing in selected cinemas. Supporting cast includes Victor Anastacio, Laura Lehmann, Jackie Lou Blanco, Allan Paule, and Pilita Corrales.

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