From YouTube to the big screen, Filipino prisoners dance to fame

 

More than 1500 inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center perform Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance in celebration of a religious festival in Cebu City central Philippines. Credit: Reuters
More than 1500 inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center performed Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance in celebration of a religious festival in Cebu City central Philippines.
Credit: Reuters

They first gained fame on YouTube, dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Now, the orange-uniformed men at a central Philippine jail make their big screen debut in a movie about prison reforms.

The 98-minute movie, “Dance of the Steel Bars,” was shot at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, with 750 prisoners forming the backdrop to a story about an American wrongly accused of murder and the bond he forms with a fellow inmate with a talent for dance.

“This film talks about redemption, about brotherhood,” Cesar Apolinario, a television journalist and the film’s co-director, told Reuters. “I did not only see them as brilliant dancers, but they are actually brilliant actors.”

The plot revolves around the real-life reforms carried out in the Cebu jail, where a security adviser introduced daily dance routines in 2007 to instill discipline and camaraderie.

The film was screened inside the Cebu jail on June 7.

“I’m thrilled to see it. And my family will be happy to see the film,” said one of the inmates, Macario Sambarihan.

The fast-paced movie features fight scenes portraying gang wars, common in crowded Philippine prisons, juxtaposed with dance sequences in the jail courtyard familiar to millions who have viewed the inmates’ Michael Jackson tributes.

“We did not simplify the steps for them,” said Los Angeles-based dancer Cindera Che, who choreographed four dance sequences. “We want them to rise up, to our level. And they did.”

The producers are betting on the inmates’ Internet fame for the project’s commercial success. The prisoners’ dance on YouTube has been viewed by more than 40 million people, said Stu Higton, executive producer of Dubai-based Portfolio Films International.

“Dance of the Steel Bars” opened in the Philippines on Wednesday and will be distributed in Asia, the Middle East and the United States.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Movies

Review: 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For'…

The belated sequel "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" makes one question whether the first one may have been not so hot. Still, Eva Green vamping!

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, www.lebowskifest.com The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…