Nuel Naval: Why Family Matters is a Relatable Movie for Filipinos

Modern Parenting spoke to Family Matters director Nuel Naval about why the film is a must-watch at this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.

No Christmas in the Philippines is complete without the annual Metro Manila Film Festival, which has become a tradition for filmgoers. From Christmas Day until the second week of January, Filipino films take the spotlight. Two of the films in this year’s lineup are family movies. After his success with Miracle in Cell No. 7 at the 2019 edition, director Nuel Naval returns with Family Matters, a story of a family and the dynamics surrounding it.

Modern Parenting got a chance to talk with the director, where he shared why Filipinos can relate to the film and compared it to Laurice Guillen’s Tanging Yaman.

Nuel Naval
Photo Source: Alexa Villano

What makes Family Matters different from Nuel Naval’s past work

Nuel Naval is known for directing many family films. But what makes Family Matters different is that it tackles almost every family dynamic.

Hindi lang yung drama but also yung light moments. Sa bawat pamilya naman may light moments, happy moments, may tragedy. So I think that’s what makes it different. Hindi lang [siya] one facet of the family life,” he answered.

“And during the pandemic, we realized how fleeting life is. So parang sort of awakening na sandali, dapat walang i-waste na time sa mga mahal natin. If we can say I love you, and embrace them all the time every day, why not? Kasi hindi natin alam. Tomorrow is not a promise,” he added.

The story of the film revolves around Francisco (Noel Trinidad) and Eleanor (Liza Lorena), as they try to adjust to their health and with their children asking them to slow down. When asked why it was important to show the story of the elderly couple, Nuel Naval said: “This is one way of honoring our parents. It’s about time na mabigyan na ang mga senior stars like si Tito Noel and Tita Liza ng lead role in a film. Kasi hindi sila nabibigyan ng chance. Magandang vehicle ito na hindi lang sila supporting or background. Kumbaga the story really revolves around the two of them.”

“This is really the time for family. It’s about time that we give honor and respect to our parents and even grandparents.”

The comparison to Tanging Yaman

Since the release of the trailer, the cast has gotten a lot of positive feedback not only from filmgoers but also from young ones. It has already drawn a comparison from Laurice Guillen’s movie Tanging Yaman, which aired in 2000. Nuel Naval said that to get that comparison is an honor already.

“We know Tanging Yaman is a classic and award-winning film. To be compared to it is wow but then again, Tanging Yaman is a heavy drama film and siyempre nag-touch din sila about faith. Yung sa amin naman, it’s lighter yung attack ng movie. Since lighter siya, we are not only trying to show the drama of the family kung hindi yung mga happy moments, yung mga funny moments,” he explained.

“It’s so relatable that you will see people smiling or crying while watching the movie,” he mentioned.

Why the movie is a must-see this Christmas

While Nuel Naval encourages everyone to watch this year’s festival, what makes Family Matters special is a movie that will warm people’s hearts, especially those who may be far from each other.

Pag pinanood niyo yung Family Matters, after watching the movie, you would want to call your mom if she’s not with you. If you are abroad or if you are in a certain place na hindi mo kasama ang parents mo, I am sure after watching this film, you would want to call them,” he said.

Pag nakita mo yung kapatid mo, you would want to embrace your siblings. It’s sort of an awakening that we should hold the values like family, and relationships. It’s very Filipino and it’s something na masarap panoorin with your whole family or even your barkada.

“At the end of the film, gusto namin ma-achieve na sana let’s be a family again. Masarap yung feeling na ma-appreciate natin yung families natin whether nag-aaway tayo or whether hindi tayo nag-aaway. Iba pa din yung buo ang pamilya mo, iba pa din yung hindi lang in times of happiness, in times of trouble, in times of sickness, lagi naman nandiyan ang pamilya natin.”

Family Matters opens on December 25.

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