Brillante Mendoza already brought honor to the Philippines when his film Foster Child was included in the Director's Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival in 2007. He once again showcased Filipino talent when his previous film, Serbis, became an official entry in 2008.
This year, his film Kinatay (The Execution of P) was able to enter the main competition of the 62nd Cannes IFF, making him the first Filipino director to bring a film to competition at Cannes two years in a row.
Not only that, Direk Brillante was named the Best Director for his work on Kinatay. This ranks him among past winners such as Martin Scorsese for the film After Hours (1986) and Ingmar Bergman for the film Brink of Life (1958).
The Filipino filmmaker managed to impress not only the
judges of Cannes but also his fellow contender, Quentin Tarantino.
In 2007, Tarantino arrived in the Philippines to receive the Lifetime Achievement award during the 9th edition of the Cinemanila International Film Festival. He is familiar with Pinoy movies, especially the works of Cirio Santiago.
Tarantino (whose best known works include Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction) defended Kinatay, the Filipino film that received both praise and harsh comments from critics covering Cannes.
In the website of Metro France, an article titled J'ai trouvé Kinatay extraordinaire was posted on May 22, 2009. In this piece, Tarantino revealed that he found Kinatay to be "extraordinary."
Incidentally, last year's Cannes jury head, Hollywood actor-director Sean Penn, also had the same observation about the Pinoy film Serbis. In his letter to Direk Brillante, Sean wrote: "I was glad to speak with you at the closing night of the festival. Serbis is something extraordinary."
Here is the translation of the interview of Quentin at the aforementioned website, which posted the original article in French:
Metro France: You know already [all the good things] that people say about Inglorious Bastards. Quentin Tarantino remains one of the biggest cineastes of his generation. A well informed cinephile also, who has spent much time in Cannes theaters these past few days...
Is there a film that you've particularly liked since you arrived?
"I can't really speak about the other films in competition because if I mention two, they will ask me why I didn't mention two more! But if there is one that I would gladly defend, it's Kinatay by Brillante Mendoza because it seems [to be] receiving the worst critics up to now. But me, I found it extraordinary."
Precisely, what is your critique [of the film]?
"For a film that puts you in the witness position, I believed it from the beginning to the end, an impression strengthened by the fact that the story is told in real time. The situation is at the same time horrible and ordinary, almost boring. And it is rather crazy that such a thing could be boring! In some aspects, Kinatay reminded me of Outrages, the film of Brian de Palma. We are witnesses of a murder of this prostitute in Manila, a "disposable" being, if we refer to the world she lives in. And the filmmaker [makes] us aware of her humanity, showing her pain. I also adored the flight in the car, in the dark, exciting because we can make out the forms and the sounds."
Do you still go as often to the movies?
"From age 17 to 22, I was filling up a detailed list of all
the films I would see in a year. I was
averaging 197 to 202 per year and at that time I was broke! I am doing much
less today. In real life, my own movies get in the way and one has to be a journalist
to see so much!"
(Click HERE to view photos of the world premiere of Kinatay in Cannes)