Filmmaker Brillante Mendoza (left) celebrated his birthday in Mandaluyong City last July 30. One of his guests was Mr. Robert Malengreau (right), the festival director of the Brussels International Film Festival. Direk Brillante's upcoming film, tentatively titled Captured, will star French actress Isabelle Huppert and Coco Martin.


Photo: Jocelyn Dimaculangan

"I feel so young!" exclaimed critically acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza during his 50th birthday celebration held at his home office in Mandaluyong City last Friday, July 30.

He added, "Age lang 'yan, it doesn't really matter to me. I just want to celebrate and I want to share all the blessings and achievements that I've had for the past five years since I started being a filmmaker."

During his birthday celebration, PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) had the chance to interview Direk Brillante about his upcoming projects. He revealed that his upcoming film, which has the working title of Captured, is a co-production of Germany and France.

"I'm doing a film with Isabelle Huppert. It's about the hostage taking [situation] in Mindanao and Isabelle would be one of the victims. I'll probably be shooting in Mindanao but not the entire film," said the award-winning director.

The French actress was the jury president at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival in 2009, the year when Brillante won the Best Director plum for Kinatay. Isabelle was impressed by the acting of Coco Martin in Kinatay, which is why she readily agreed to be part of Captured.

Isabelle has won the Best Actress trophy in the Cannes Film Festival twice, and is considered as the most-nominated actress for the César Awards, the French equivalent of the Oscars.

"The kidnappers in the movie will be Coco Martin, Ronnie Lazaro, Jhong Hilario, Ketchup Eusebio, and Ping Medina. May pagka-action ito, and I will start shooting next year," said Direk Brillante.

DOCUMENTARY. Last June 30, PEP spotted Direk Brillante shooting a footage of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino Jr., as the 15th President of the Republilc delivered his inauguration speech at the Quirino Grandstand. Brilliante says he will use the footage for a documentary he is currently working on.

"I've been doing a documentary on the Senakulo for the past two years. It's set here in Mandaluyong, they've been doing it for the past 45 years already."

According to National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) executive director Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, who attended the golden birthday celebration of the director with her husband-politician Heherson Alvarez, she also wants to tap Direk Brillante to direct a soap opera on the environment. She described Direk Brillante as the best symbol of Philippine cinema.

(Cecille Alvarez may be remembered as a National Artist awardee of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whose award caused protests from artists and other cultural workers. Protesters included past National Artist awardees who objected to the way she was chosen. Cecille's name was not in any of the lists submitted in the complex and rigorous process followed in choosing a National Artist, and her being executive director of the NCCA and head of the secretariat tasked to process nominess for the National Artist award, caused many of her peers to raise issues of ethics against her.)

GOLDEN CELEBRATION. A live band provided music for the guests of Direk Brillante who came from the worlds of showbiz, politics, advertising, the arts, and the independent film industry.

Guests were privileged to see the "museum" where Brilliante's trophies, plaques, and framed articles were displayed. The world-renowned director celebrated Mass at his home, which also serves as the headquarters of his own production outfit, Centerstage Productions.

One of the most eye-catching plaques is a simple white parchment stating his triumph as Best Director in the 62nd Cannes Film Festival. Brilliante is the first Filipino director to win the award.