Fri, Apr 05, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Philippine dancing inmates inspire prison film

AP, MANILA, Philippines

Six years and 52 million YouTube hits later, Filipino inmates who danced to Thriller inside a prison courtyard are getting their stories told in a movie drama about redemption and corruption behind bars.

Dance of the Steel Bars was shot in the Cebu provincial prison, the same place where up to 1,500 inmates dressed in orange uniforms danced to global fame in 2007.

Their choreographed act still attracts thousands of tourists who troop to the prison to watch the performance, which recently included Gangnam Style. Some of the dancing inmates appear in the movie too.

It stars Irish actor Patrick Bergin, who played Julia Roberts’ husband in Sleeping With the Enemy, and Filipino heartthrob Dingdong Dantes.

The Dubai-based producer, Portfolio Films International, said the story follows Bergin’s character, Frank Parish, a retired US firefighter and philanthropist wrongly jailed for murder in the Philippines.

He befriends Mando, played by 32-year-old Dantes, a convicted murderer who denies his passion for dancing to prove his masculinity.

Another character, Allona, played by Joey Paras, is a transsexual who teaches dance to his fellow inmates to contribute to prison reforms. They are caught up in a struggle between the positive changes being implemented by the new jail warden and a corrupt prison system.

Marnie Manicad, who co-directed the movie with television reporter Cesar Apolinario, said on Wednesday that the story is fictional, but inspired by real stories of the inmates.

“We made this film to tell the story of redemption, and of the human spirit’s ability to change for the better,” she said.

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