While veteran directors like Quentin Tarantino and Sean Penn have praised Kinatay director Brilliante Mendoza's neo-realist movies, veteran film critics have often panned them. One even called Kinatay the worst film ever shown at Cannes. But Mendoza is unfazed and accustomedto drawing such extreme reactions: "I'mhoping somehow that I'm doing something that's...worth showing to the people. Ifsomebody doesn't like my film...I don't really dwell on that. When they saysomething good about my film, thank you. They don't like it, well, thank you."
Mendoza says all of his movies are based on real-life stories from the Philippines:"I want people to know that...these thingsare happening in the country, in the Philippines; that this is a part of ourculture...For me, this is what cinema is all about. To show what is real, to showwhat is true." He adds that his movies—usually heavy on the explicit sexscenes and violence "are definitely notfor entertainment...they're not really for everyone."
As the first Filipino to snare the Best Director award at Cannes—edging out heavyweights such as Quentin Tarantino, Ang Lee and Pedro Almodovar—Mendoza was heralded by his countrymen and President Gloria Arroyo. But thedirector has mixed feelings: "I'mthankful that she gave me a commendation. She gave me an award and cash moneywhich could really help me in paying all my debts in the post production. But Iwas hoping for ...a more genuine support, not only from her but from thegovernment because it's not easy...for us especially independent filmmaker to dothese kind of films and to fund our film."
Mendoza's latest movies has faced a struggle to be screened in his homecountry, although ultimately the government approved it without cuts orcensoring: "It's very frustrating becauseI think nobody should tell the audience or the Filipino not to watch my kind offilm...I think nobody should tell them what to watch or not." The directorbelieves drastic action is necessary: "Wehave to change the law to abolish the censorship so that we'll be able to showour films freely to the Filipino audience."
Thedirector also shares with Coren how he became a single father to his adopted13-year-old daughter Angelica. "Ifthere's one thing I'm proud of, I think it is being a good father...I think it'smy greatest achievement...greater than Cannes."
Brillante Mendoza's interview with TALK ASIA will be available online at www.cnn.com/talkasia after the first airing.