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
Local

NYPD looking for man they say assaulted elderly…

      The New York City Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a Hispanic male 20's wanted in connection with…

Local

Three arrested after allegedly assaulting off-duty officer in…

Three men were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting an off-duty officer at a Bronx bodega, and the NYPD is asking for the public's…

Local

Healthcare union creates vibrant West Indian Day Parade…

Volunteers worked almost around the clock through the weekend, putting the flashy finishing touches on hundreds of costume pieces 1199SEIU members will wear while marching…

National

Top 10 most hipster college campuses

Hipsters are everywhere these days. You can't walk down the anywhere anymore without seeing a pair of skinny jeans on a handlebar mustachioed 20-something, a…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sep. 3: 'Houdini,' 'Colbert'…

Watch "Homeland" star Mandy Patinkin on "The Colbert Report."

Music

Lincoln Center just made 'Lord of the Rings'…

Middle Earth already has sweeping vistas, a hero's journey and technology-revolutionizing special effects. But next April, the Lincoln Center will add another dimension to Peter Jackson's…

Gossip

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth apparently love each…

Miley Cyrus may have broken off her engagement to Liam Hemsworth almost a year ago, but that doesn't mean she doesn't still have feelings for…

The Word

The Word: Charlize Theron isn't perfect, so stop…

We've been thinking a lot about famous women's bodies this week, obviously, so here's some food for thought to go with all that virtual ogling.…

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

Wellbeing

Today's Doomsday preppers: a closer look at survivalist…

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. The term “Doomsday prepper” is often associated with the paranoid, anti-government stereotype of the 1990s. The truth…

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…

Sex

When it comes to dating, height matters

Does a man’s height really matter when it comes to dating? Unfortunately - according to a new study - the answer looks like it’s yes.…

Style

5 minutes with..Rebecca Minkoff

Rebecca Minkoff on her Spring '15 show.