Brillante Mendoza: the “Love Him or Hate Him” Director
'Kinatay' stirs Cannes Film Festival
By Jason Paul Laxamana
Central Luzon Daily
AFTER participating in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival last year with 'Serbis' -- a neorealist film about the Family Theater in Angeles City, San Fernando-born Brillante Ma. Mendoza is again vying for the main award, the Palm d'Or, in this year's festival with a violent film about the infamous “chop chop lady,” a grim character propagated by the news media in the late 90s. 'Kinatay' is also a co-production between Mendoza's Center Stage Productions and France' Swift Productions, the followup co-production after 'Serbis.'
The title of his latest work is 'Kinatay,' with English title 'The Execution of P.' Again written by Armando “Bing” Lao, 'Kinatay' is a story of a newly-married young police trainee who is need of more money to sustain his and his wife's education. To solve his problem, he goes with police officers to a clandestine mission of torturing a drug-addicted prostitute in Manila. Later on, the prostitute is mercilessly beaten, slaughtered, and chopped into bits, the parts wrapped in plastic, and thrown in various parts of Manila.
The movie, like in most Mendoza films, again stars Coco Martin. Mercedes Cabral, who played as the girl impregnated by Coco's character in 'Serbis,' is also back, along with Julio Diaz (also from 'Serbis'), and Lauren Novero (from 'Kaleldo'). The movie also stars Jhong Hilario, Maria Isabel Lopez, and John Regala.
As with last year's Philippine entry to the Cannes, 'Kinatay' has not failed to divide the audience and the film critics. There are those that brand the film as the worst entry in the festival, while others praise it for its unconventional style—no sensationalized scenes, slow rhythm, hand-held camera shots, absence of plot, lack of character development, and minimal lines. This is also partially thanks to the screenwriter, who is known to advocate for real-time scriptwriting.
This recurring style in Mendoza's films is what gets on the nerves of film critics who are not fans of the internationally acclaimed director. They describe 'Kinatay' as something that causes the audience alienation, resentment, and a feeling of having wasted money to see the film. Like in 'Serbis,' these critics also complain about the terrible traffic background sound which they describe as too noisy. Mendoza and Angeles City-residing producer Ferdie Lapuz both defend however that they are only trying to show the reality of noise pollution in the urban Philippines, which I couldn't agree more with.
The boldness of 'Kinatay,' on the other hand, makes it a probable choice in emerging victorious in the festival. Match, a German film distribution company, has picked up the controversial Filipino artwork for international distribution.
No more box office
Mendoza already knows that the films he loves to make aren't the films Filipinos want to see in theaters. That is why he just plans to hop from school to school to screen his films like 'Kinatay' to students, and then talk about the issue featured after the film. Such style of screening makes movie-watching more interactive, and makes education much more exciting than just being stuck in the classroom.