Monday, May 25

Cannes Surfing: Brillante Mendoza is Best Director

Director Terry Gilliam (L) congratulates Filipino director Brillante Mendoza for winning the Best Director award for the film "Kinatay" at the award ceremony for the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 24, 2009. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Awyeah! Kinatay ang kalaban! Heh.

I hope our country celebrates this as much as the Pacquiao victory, because, in a sense, this a bigger feat. Brillante Mendoza was up against heavyweights Lars Von Trier, Ang Lee, Alain Resnais, Pedro Almodovar, and Park Chan-Wook among others.

CANNES, France (AFP) — Brillante Mendoza of the Philippines on Sunday picked up the best director prize at the Cannes film festival for his dark movie "Kinatay".

"Kinatay" (meaning "massacre") notably features corrupt cops hacking a prostitute to pieces with blunt kitchen knives.

Mendoza, at Cannes for the second year running, again split the critics, drawing both hisses and applause for "Kinatay".

Last year's "Serbis" was set in a Manila porn-theatre with long close-ups of festering boils and overflowing toilets, as well as the poverty and distress on the streets.

Still determined to portray the social reality around him, Mendoza in "Kinatay" traces 24 hours in the day of a trainee policeman, happily beginning with his wedding in the morning to close with the young man's first outing at night with a band of corrupt colleagues.

To his surprise, fear and anguish, they pick up a prostitute accused of betrayal and wind up torturing, raping, killing and hacking her before disposing of the body parts across Manila.

"This is not just entertainment, these kinds of stories are real," Mendoza said at Cannes.

Last year was the first time since 1984 the Philippines had a film competing for the top prize at Cannes, the Palme d'Or.

Wise Kwai has posted a more in-depth entry on Mendoza's win including links to list of winners.

Claire Rosemberg rounds up the other Asian winners among them Park Chan-Wook (in photo) and Lou Ye:

CANNES, France (AFP) — Asia's dark and disturbing movies scooped Cannes kudos on Sunday, with awards for cult directors from China and Korea, as well as controversial Filipino auteur Brillante Mendoza.

At Cannes with a blood-and-gore tale about vampire love titled "Thirst", South Korea's Park Chan-wook jointly won the festival's Jury Prize, taking home his second trophy from the festival after "Old Boy" in 2004.

A torrid and unexpectedly graphic gay love movie from China, "Spring Fever", won best screenplay for outlawed director Lou Ye.

And Mendoza, one of the most divisive directors at the 12-day movie bonanza, got the best director prize for a gritty look at violence in "Kinatay", which means massacre and shows the slow butchering of a prostitute into pieces with blunt kitchen knives.

"I know opinions are divided on my movies," Mendoza said after picking up his prize. "I was expecting it."

Mendoza faced a barrage of criticism from some quarters at Cannes at his first showing last year with "Serbis", which was set in a Manila porn-theatre with long close-ups of festering boils and overflowing toilets.

Both films background Manila's poor, with "Kinatay" chronicling a day in the life of a young police officer that begins with his wedding and closes with his involvement in the rape, murder and hacking into pieces of a prostitute.

"This is not just entertainment, these kinds of stories are real," Mendoza said.

Park's priest-turned-vampire suffers cruelly in the movie, from inner demons and physical ills, but picking up his award at the red-carpet ceremony the film-maker in contrast said:

"I think I still have a long way to go to be a true artist because I still don't know about the pain of creation. I only know about the joy of creation."

Park, who describes his rivers-of-blood tale as a "scandalous vampire melodrama," shows a good-Samaritan priest caught in an ethical quagmire after being turned into a vampire by a mysterious blood transfusion.

Lusting not only after blood but after a childhood friend's wife -- who turns into a vampire too -- the priest is drawn into crime while seeking redemption as he soars through windows to rooftops in search of life-saving blood supplies.

On a different note, outlawed China film-maker Lou said the Cannes award could contribute to greater freedom for cinema in China.

"I hope young directors will be free and will be independent enough to make their films," he said after scooping the prize.

Lou shot his movie in secret over two months in Nanjing city after censors slapped a five-year ban on him in 2006 for bringing "Summer Palace" to Cannes that year without official approval.

That too was a steamy love tale set around the sensitive issue of the pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen.

The point of "Spring Fever" was to portray individual emotions rather than social problems, he told AFP this week.

"The individual is more important than the group, but the last time the Chinese talked about individuals was back in the 1920s," he said.


dodo dayao said...

Good one, Brillante.

There are a few disgruntled (why they're disgruntled I don't know) Pinoys who're actually criticizing Brillante for . . .get this . . . winning . . .and for a much-panned film,too. Like . . .eh?

Let's hope, though, that there's more than just piqued curiosity. But I doubt if people will see Brillante's win as bigger than . . . ummm, Adam Lambert.

Raymond Red won the Cannes Palme D'Or many years ago but Adam Lambert still beats him in terms of coverage and celebration.

(Good on Park, too. And Lou Ye. And Michael Haneke.)

Cinema is the new rock and roll.

dodo dayao said...

And just after I finished typing my comment I get an email that . . .

. . .AdamLambertArtwork is now following me on Twitter.

Bizarre. I need coffee.

Thor Bee said...

"There are a few disgruntled (why they're disgruntled I don't know) Pinoys who're actually criticizing Brillante for . . .get this . . . winning . . .and for a much-panned film,too. Like . . .eh?"

Whathafrak right? That one, I don't get at all. It's like the story you shared when people (in Image) were rooting for Gladiator (?) to win Best Picture over Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Grr. Argh. Words escape me.

Sing along with me now, "We hate the kids..."


Pero may kasamang bitterness.

"But I doubt if people will see Brillante's win as bigger than . . . ummm, Adam Lambert."

Or Star Trek. The best picture of the year. Pweh. Naiirita na naman ang matanda.

On Adam Lambert, in my book, Kris Allen deserved the win for the two brave song choices: Falling Slowly and Heartless. Kanye West on AI felt surreal. Props to him for that.

Thor Bee said...

AdamLambertArtwork is following me too for an entry about my ears bleeding every time he sings. I don't think they/it can separate praise from criticism.

dodo dayao said...

A sidebar to that little anecdote from Image Damnation - - -later that day,someone explains to me why Crouching Tiger was nominated: "Natuto na kasi ang mga intsik , nagpaka-Hollywood na din sila sawakas." Natuto????

Star Trek - - I liked it pero medyo OA and am sure ningas cogon. In a few weeks, magkakalimutan na when the drooling begins anew over Transformers.

Saw parts of the Ai finale. Not Kanye, though - - -sayang. It was . . .boring. Liked Kiss.

I don't see what all the fuss over Queen was about,though. Queen without Freddie Mercury is . . .Brian May and the guy who plays drums. Queen without Freddie Mercury is . . . not Queen.

Thor Bee said...

On Star Trek: OA lang talaga ang reception. Parang matagal natigang ang viewers ng masayang action flick. Well, totoo naman.

On Kris: That was performed during the Top 3 show. Ganda ng version ni Kris.

On AI finale: Nakakatawa kasi ang tatanda ng guest kaya medyo nag-enjoy ako. From Cyndi Lauper to Lionel Ritchie, from KISS to Queen to Steve Martin's bluegrass song. Now I'm wondering what the viewer demo is for Idol. The kids weren't singing along to the KISS anthem but Adam's mom was. Haha.

dodo dayao said...

Seeing Paul Stanley na medyo mataba was oddly . . .comforting.

Teka . . .sinasabayan ko din yung mga kanta ng Kiss a. Hahaha.

Thor Bee said...

Hahaha! I WANT TO ROCK N' ROLL ALL NIGHT, AND PARTY EVERYDAY! Weee! You and me both. Eh yung ALL NIGHT LONG (all night) (all night)? :p

cinelamour said...

have you gone to roger ebert's blog on kinatay? the filipinos there are fighting! lol but what disgusts me most was this certain michael mirasol (who he claims is a film critic, btw) who apologizes to roger ebert in behalf of the filipino people for having kinatay as a cannes entry. wtf! who the hell he thinks he is?!

p.s. i found michael blog entry:

dodo dayao said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dodo dayao said...

Hell - - - we should be proud for something like Gagamboy becoming a minor hit in the US a few years back. We should be proud Weng weng is an international cult hero. We should be proud Lienil Yu drew that shitty comic called Secret Invasion.

Shit, we pounced on Claire Danes for saying some of our buildings smelled like cockroaches.That was at least partly true.

Pinoys are sensitive and we take things a little too personally. We've been like this for decades. Let's live with it and not apologize to Americans for not being like them.

Besides, Ebert's a powerful Pulitzer Prize-winning critic man (and some say,a nice guy,which he probably is but is immaterial to the discussion) he can take a little . . ehem . . criticism.

dodo dayao said...

When Ebert said he liked Serbis, I did feel a little elation, although I was more ecstatic when David Bordwell gave it a nod. (a lot of locals thought it the cinematic equivalent of pus, just as they mostly thought another Cannes entry Raya's Now Showing was terrible - - I thought it was a masterpiece)

When Ebert called Kinatay "the worst film in Cannes history" I felt a little . . .hoy teka. Kneejerk, in both cases, sure, and ultimately has nothing to do with the films themselves or with being cinephiles or with anything else but everything to do with being a Pinoy and being proud.

I don't think you can temper this with sobriety and civility and I don't think you should apologize for it.

Thor Bee said...

@cinelamour: Sigh. We are all entitled to our own opinion but I just find it all too sad.

Here's my two cents worth on the matter: I think no one is in the position to apologize for someone else's creative work/ point of view, whether it's cinema, literature or music. It's the creator's experience and POV, who are we to judge (and apologize for) something uniquely personal?

But to apologize AS a Filipino?

Why? I honestly don't get this.

There is no shame in creating something that others won't like.

Why create if one only aims to please or reap praises?

Lars Von Trier's Antichrist also got its share of negative reviews. I don't think anyone AS a Danish is apologizing for the movie.

Whether Kinatay is a good or a bad movie, I think that we should be proud of Brillante's achievement because it's a victory for Philippine cinema and for Filipinos in general. (Like Pacquiao's. Like Lea's. Like Vanessa Hudgens'. Pinoy eh, as simple as that.)

Andy Briones said...

RE: picture of Terry Gilliam and Brillante Mendoza in your post, at first look, I thought it was a still from some homoerotic flick. Ehehehe.

Tsk, I really need to wear glasses.

Thor Bee said...

@Andy: HAHAHAHA! It does look like that Gilliam is about to kiss Mendoza! Galing mo talaga!