This was my second interview and second encounter with Filipino international award-winning director, Brillante Mendoza. My first interview with him was during the Bangkok International Film Festival (BIFF) 2008 when his Cannes nominated film, “Serbis” won the Golden Kinnaree Award (highest creative achievement) in the Southeast Asian competition. As I didn’t save a back-up copy of it from my first blog site, unfortunately, I won’t be able to re-publish it here other than my second interview. Since not most of us will be given a chance or has a gift in saying, “Cut!” at the drop of a hat, I thought of sharing this interview with you so you’ll be able to get something from this genius filmmaker, a Filipino and not most people.
* * *
September 26, 2009, ’twas a gathering like no other. Aside from Madonna (which apparently was the name of Maria Isabel Lopez’ character in the movie) look-a-like/dress-a-like cross promotional event held at the outdoor arena of Siam Paragon in conjunction with her “Celebration” CD, I was so excited to finally be reunited with my Pinoy friends here in Bangkok particularly Banjo, who is a longtime friend of Maria Isabel Lopez, the lady who got “chop-chop” in the movie. Then there was the 2-time Palanca Awardee & good friend Dominic Manrique whom I was able to convince to extend his stay in Thailand for one more day after his successful hand operation in Chiang Mai just to see this another controversial movie of Cannes 2009 Best Director, Brillante Mendoza.
It’s been really, really a long, long while since the last time I saw Banjo, Terry and JM. So I met the “girls” first at Pizza Company in Siam Discovery for a quick dinner. There, I met their co-teachers Joseph (who took those lovely pics of ours with Direk Dante which you will see at the latter part of this post) & Simi. Then, we proceed to Siam Paragon where Dominic was waiting for us.
I booked our tickets a week in advance and since I sat in the front row last year watching “Serbis”, I took the B row this time. So a few more minutes, Direk Brillante arrived with his mini entourage just behind us. I looked back, stood up & greeted him. He was so kind to reciprocate by coming over to where I was and introduced my friends. Then he gave me a copy of BIFF daily supplement where he was the cover feature. I told him that I’ll interview him later after the movie in which he nodded with a smile. Then a few more minutes later, the theatre was jam packed and all of us were in our silent mode watching the flick.
So let’s talk about the movie a bit, shall we? I will not discuss about the Q&A portion, OK? “Kinatay” for me, is your typical Brillante Mendoza film—dark & brutal which Direk Dante himself admitted. But one thing I can only say: BRILLANTE MENDOZA DESERVED THAT CANNES AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR. Why? He was able to capture the moment, expression & mood of all his actors especially Coco Martin who was also credited as the co-producer of the movie using his real name, Rodel Nacianceno. And the production design is so realistic which is of course a given thing since Mendoza used to be an advertising guy (like me).
Of course, after the movie, there’s the “kodakan” & chikahan session with Direk Dante. So I waited for him outside the theatre as a lot of people asks for his photo & all inside.
So before the interview, we asked Direk for a group photo with him which you will see now…
Then came my one minute & forty six seconds interview with him using the voice recorder of my mobile phone. Of course we spoke in our mother tongue para mas relax na kami pareho…hehehe. Here’s the interview…no more no less…
CARLO: Your movie (Kinatay) was not chosen to be the country’s official representative for Oscar, how do you feel about it?
BM: Well everyone (the committee) has their own choice. I wasn’t chosen so I just wish good luck to the one that they chose (“Ded Na Si Lolo” by Soxie Topacio). My film was not chosen probably because they did not appreciate it so better luck next time (referring to himself).
CARLO: One critic said that your film was the worst movie in the Cannes history and I’ve read about that. Well I can’t say anything about it only until now that I’ve seen your movie (Brillante laughs). So how did you take this criticism? What was your first reaction?
BM: Actually it’s been going around and I’m really sorry because I didn’t know about it too until someone told me about it where they read it from different blogs. So that’s his opinion and for me, I’ll just respect it.
CARLO: So after you’ve won the Best Director award it seems like…
BM: First and foremost, I wasn’t really that affected with that criticism because I feel so confident with my film because as a filmmaker, I have already achieved what I want to happen in my movie. So whatever the critics would want to say about it whether praises or they don’t like it, that’s their opinion. For me, as a filmmaker I’m just focused with my job & what I’m doing.
CARLO: Thank you Direk for your time. I’ll just email you again if ever.
BM: Sure, sure, sure. Apologies as I’ve been busy lately with many things so I wasn’t able to reply to you.
CARLO: No problem Direk. Bye.
There you go. We left him with other people who wants to chat & take photo with him. If I’m not wrong, our ambassador & his staff were there too to support Direk Brillante.
Since it was already almost midnight when the movie ended, we have to reroute our exit. And by sudden stroke of fate, we met Direk Brillante and his entourage again outside while they’re waiting for their shuttle and of course, accompanied by someone from the festival. So I asked him about his new project and he mentioned about “Lola” which was at that time showing at the Venice Film Festival. Then I teased the guy who played the “Balut” (Duck Egg) Vendor in his movie who was part of his entourage that night and he just smiled at me. Then we “formally” bid goodbye to him as we walk up the stairs of BTS Skytrain. And while there, we imitated John Regala’s crispy “PI’s” (Motherf*cker) and we’re not sure if Direk Brillante heard us so to Direk Brillante, we’re just mimicking John’s very convincing dangerous police officer role and it was not intended to hurt anyone 😉