Filmmaker Dante Mendoza's 'Serbis' in prestigious Cannes competition

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By RAMIL DIGAL GULLE
abs-cbnNEWS.com

Filipino director Brillante “Dante” Mendoza has been a darling of the film festival circuit this past year, with several of his films being chosen for several international filmfests. This time around, however, Mendoza has done something no other Filipino director–apart from the late great National Artist for Film (posthumous) Lino Brocka, that is–has done: his film is included for competition in the prestigious Cannes International Film Festival in France.

The first and only time a Filipino director had a film including in the competition category of the Cannes was in 1984, when Brocka’s opus “Orapronobis” was accepted.

Now, 24 years later, Mendoza’s film “Serbis” has been included for competition at the Cannes. “Serbis” chronicles the struggles of a rural family that decides to run a prostitute service based in a fake theater.

The film stars veteran, multi-awarded actress Gina Pareño and talented newcomer Coco Martin.

Prestige list
Organisers of the Cannes film festival on Wednesday issued the list of 19 films competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or award closing the event, May 14-25. A 20th film from France is to be announced in the next few days.

Following is the list of contenders and directors:

— “Uc Maymun” (The Three Monkeys) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey)

— “Le Silence De Lorna” (The Silence of Lorna) by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Belgium)

— “Un Conte de Noel” (A Christmas Tale) by Arnaud Desplechin (France)

— “Changeling” by Clint Eastwood (United States)

— “Adoration” by Atom Egoyan (Canada)

— “Waltz With Bashir” by Ari Folman (Israel)

— “La Frontiere De l’Aube” (The Frontier Of Dawn) by Philippe Garrel (France)

— “Gomorra” by Matteo Garrone (Italy)

— “24 City” by Jia Zhangke (China)

— “Synecdoche, New York” by Charlie Kaufman (United States)

— “My Magic” by Eric Khoo (Singapore)

— “La Mujer Sin Cabeza” (Woman Without A Head) by Lucrecia Martel (Argentina)

— “Serbis” by Brillante Mendoza (Philippines)

— “Delta” by Kornel Mundruczo (Hungary)

— “Linha de Passe” (Line of Passage) by Walter Salles, Daniela Thomas (Brazil)

— “Che” by Steven Soderbergh (United States)

— “Il Divo” by Paolo Sorrentino (Italy)

— “Leonera” by Pablo Trapero (Argentina)

— “The Palermo Shooting” by Wim Wenders (Germany)

Out of competition:

— “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” by Woody Allen (United States)

— “The Good, The Bad, The Weird” by Kim Jee-Woon (South Korea)

— “Kung Fu Panda” by Mark Osborne, John Stevenson (United States)

— “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” by Steven Spielberg (United States)

Singapore award
Mendoza earlier brought honor to the country when his film Slingshot (original Filipino title “Tirador”) emerged as this year’s major winner at the recently-concluded Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF) 2008.

Celebrating its 21 years as one of the biggest events in Singapore, SIFF this year saw more than 200 films from over 40 countries showcased during its 18-day festival period from March 28 to April 14, 2008.

“Tirador” won Best Film at the Asean Feature Film category of the SIFF as well as the Netpac (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Award and Best Director honors for Mr. Brillante Mendoza.

The movie  stars Jiro Manio (lead star of “Magnifico”), Kristofer King, Coco Martin, Jaclyn Jose and Nathan Lopez. Lopez is still remembered by fans for his starring role in  “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros” (international title of “The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros”).

Interestingly, Mendoza never knew his film won in the SIFF until after the awards were given. He didn’t even know that his film was entered in the festival by his agent. Thus, Mendoza was unable to attend the SIFF to receive the honor.

Filipino filmmaker John Torres (Years When I Was A Child Outside or Taon Noong Ako’y Anak sa Labas) received the award on behalf of Mr. Mendoza.

Seven (7) other Philippine films were featured at the festival in the non-competition category of Asian Cinema. These films included:  Juan Baybayin, When Timawa meets Delgado, Death in the Land of Encantos, Santa Mesa, Years When I Was A Child Outside, PISAY (Philippine Science) and Ehem!Plo – Corruption and Integrity in the Philippine Society. Slingshot or Tirador was included in the Silver Screen Awards, a competition for the Best Asian Film Award.

Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Belen A. Fule-Anota together with other Embassy officials attended the showing of “Ehem!Plo – Corruption and Integrity in the Philippine Society” at a screening held at the Republic Polytechnic, Woodlands Campus last April 7.

They met with Filipino film directors Clodualdo Del Mundo, of Ehem!Plo and  Mr. Rox Lee of Juan Baybayin and Mr. Philip Cheah, SIFF 2008 Festival Director. Ambassador Anota expressed delight at the growing audience base of Philippine films in Singapore. Filipino films have of late also been shown commercially in select Singapore cinemas. With a report from Agence France Presse

SOURCE: ABS-CBN NEWS